I was just wondering why City of Santa Barbara is contracting out work that they historically did themselves for a hell of a lot less. For instance, why can’t City of Santa Barbara maintenance workers do the Stearns Wharf handrail jobs themselves? Hands-on maintenance and structural work on the wharf is how workers stay on the pulse of the “living,” ever-changing wharf, as well as remaining visible and aware of what’s going on among the public.

Right now I am living in Atlanta, Georgia, but my heart still resides in Santa Barbara. I grew up there and worked for the City of Santa Barbara’s Waterfront division at Stearn’s Wharf under Cmdr. Paul Nefstead, David Meyerson, and Judd Conley from 1980-86.

On a hot sunny day in late June, with President Reagan helping Fess Parker dedicate his resort and the USS Enterprise anchored off shore, I was replacing handrails half-way up the causeway, on deck with my partner, when I noticed smoke and fire coming from the back of the Museum of Natural History’s Sea Center on the shore-ward finger. Having city employees as the maintenance workers doubles as a security force. Much like any well-run ship, they are the heart of Santa Barbara’s Stearn’s Wharf and a presence that is hard to imagine the waterfront without.

They are needed to keep wharf maintenance a busy, visible, and vigilant presence on deck.


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