Santa Barbara: A One-Horse Town?

The Problem Is … We May Be Way Too Nice for Our Own Good

Until the pandemic, we had several great downtown parades each year — but the closure of State Street has left us with only a narrow path between chairs and tables. | Credit: Courtesy

The problem is, Santa Barbarians — we are way too nice. We really want to include everybody’s opinion when we make decisions about our city — even if you are left out, we don’t want you to feel left out. This means it takes a long time to do anything. Our city motto could be “Live Politely, Or Die.” If we want to speed things up, we have to cut back on the nice. So let’s roll up our sleeves, take off our Apple watches, and get to work solving our problems.

The problem is that our oil platforms are disasters waiting to happen. Of course we could just dump 100,000 barrels of oil into the ocean and get the disaster over with — or we could continue to pretend that it will never happen. But everyone knows that having even one oil platform offshore is like leaving a loaded gun on your kitchen counter. Inevitably, someone’s gonna pick it up and — it leaks! Okay, that’s a mixed metaphor, but the oil platforms have to go. One solution would be to disconnect them and decorate them with twinkly lights. Because, just with the lights they have now, the platforms look very pretty at night — that is, until you realize that you’re admiring bombs ready to explode. Whatever we do, we should at least cover them with solar panels.

The problem is that our new mayor is a man — can we cope? In the last 40 years — from 1981-2021 — we’ve had women as mayors, with the exception of one year when a guy named Hal got elected. But Hal was replaced, by a woman of course, after he was disqualified because he had been elected to the City Council for too many terms — though why being successful at one government job disqualifies you from having another government job is arcane Santa Barbara wisdom that I cannot decipher. The obvious solution is that we don’t disqualify Randy Rowse for being elected. Give him a chance. But how long do we give him? Considering the pace of today’s news cycle and social media, I don’t know, how about 48 hours? Sorry, Randy — time’s up.

The problem is, where did our University of California go? The last known sighting of it in Santa Barbara was in 1954 — so it’s been missing for 68 years! Its campus in the upper Riviera still exists, but where’s the school? Everyone knows UC Berkeley is in Berkeley and UC Riverside is in Riverside — but UC Santa Barbara is in … Isla Vista? And what, exactly, is Isla Vista? It’s not a town. Not a village. Apparently, it’s a bagel shop surrounded by some sort of unincorporated land without any real government departments — which is a great place to put a university. I mean, if almost all your inhabitants are 18- to 22-year-olds, why would anyone ever need to call 9-1-1, the fire department, or the police? The solution is simple: since UCSB’s name should match its location, change it to UCIV — which is a little creepy because it sounds like it’s on life support — but at least when you say you go to UCIV, everyone will know where you’re actually going. Or — we could just annex Isla Vista — whatever it is.

The problem is that reporter John Palminteri is Santa Barbara’s clean version of Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent — “He’s here, he’s there, he’s freakin’ everywhere!” Mr. Ubiquitous covers floods, fires, zoo births, museum openings — from Ventura to SLO. He’s a legend on TV and radio. But something’s very wrong here: He just can’t be in so many places at once. The solution is for John to level with us — how many twin brothers do you actually have? Or are you all replicants?

The problem is the “When Harry Met Meghan” scenario — stars have quit movies, TV, and rehab to move here, and they are trying to live normal, millionaire lives. We don’t need to take selfies with them — it’s the one time Santa Barbarians stop being polite — just leave ‘em alone! If you’re dying to see celebrities, play a game I call “Near Star” in which you spot someone who kinda-really-not-really looks like someone famous. That way you can tell everyone that you think you met Katy Perry and the person you chose will be thrilled to be mistaken for her. Unless, of course, she’s Zooey Deschanel.

The problem is KCLU. Everyone loves the station. But, even though KCLU claims they only hold pledge drives twice a year, it seems like they ask for money twice a month. This makes me shout at my radio, “I called already — I don’t need to hear your phone number 13 times during This American Life!” Since KCLU’s operating expenses are about $2 million a year, let’s just ask Oprah to make a sustaining contribution of $2.5 million — that way everything’s paid for and KCLU would finally be able to give John Palminteri some gas money. And don’t worry — Oprah can afford $2.5 million a year — instead of watering her lawn each week, she could just water it every other week.

The problem is that we actually have our very own perennial championship team, but they get no recognition. You know who I’m talking about, right? That’s my point. The Santa Barbara Foresters are a college-aged amateur baseball club who play 50 games each summer, and their home field is Pershing Park. They compete in the National Baseball Congress World Series which they’ve won eight out of the last 14 years! Only the great Yankeeteams won that many World Series in 14 seasons. How much better do the Foresters have to play to get noticed or be given a parade? Oh, right, I forgot — we don’t do parades anymore. But at least notice these guys! This solution is really simple: go to a game!

The problem is our absence of parades. Until the pandemic, we had several great downtown parades each year — but the closure of State Street has left us with only a narrow path between chairs and tables. We could scale down the parades to make them fit. For example, Old Spanish Days Fiesta Parade could let just one horse at a time prance the parade route — unfortunately, that would make the parade last about three months. For the Solstice Parade to slip through, we could ask them to wear smaller masks and have their belly dancers reduce the width of their wiggle. And in our Christmas Parade, since Santa can’t be in a sleigh, he could ride an electric bike — with a red headlight! Or — and here’s a real solution — we create an alternative parade route. And, of course, we will want to include everybody’s opinion in that discussion.

The problem is, Santa Barbarians.

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