DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan
On the status of the Modoc Preserve: Where is Fish and Wildlife while wetlands, 4 feet from the street, are being threatened?
Regarding the Santa Barbara County Transportation Division’s plan to cut down 44 of the beautiful and historic trees along the Modoc corridor, despite residents’ strong objections: It’s not the first time the county mowed over the vital interests of the people in the name of the county’s idea of “the greater good.”
Did you know that in 1840, approximately, 249 Chumash individuals lived in an area called Cieneguitas/Kaswa’a “little swamps” (now Modoc and Hollister)? In 1873, County Road Commissioner J.L. Barker decided that a path that ran through the Cieneguitas Chumash Village would make a good road to Goleta.
The rancher, who owned the property — Thomas Hope, acting as the federal Indian agent — objected both verbally and physically since the plan would dissect his ranch and steal land from the Chumash Village.
He was fined $1,000 and relinquished a 100 foot-wide strip of land on the northern edge of the Chumash Village — probably a combination of Hope’s and the Chumash holdings.
The hostilities over the road construction and over the remaining village of the Chumash was called Santa Barbara’s own Modoc (which was a reference to a fight in Northern California during this same period).
Since then, the road has been Modoc Road.
By the late 1880s, the Pacific Improvement Co. was building a railroad line north of Modoc and south of Hollister on the northern edge of the village. By 1886, after “mysterious” house fires, only three Chumash families remained. They were evicted.
Fast forward to the 1990s Painted Cave Fire. Despite the fact that residents spoke of Chumash roof tiles and other artifacts in their yards, Santa Barbara County proceeded to allow permits for rebuilding without investigating the historic significance of the former Chumash Village. That gave new meaning to the word “roadkill.” First, it’s paving over history, then it’s paving over nature. Who knows what else lies beneath this rare preserve?
By the way, Henry Chase, the brother of the revered Pearl Chase, is responsible for planting the majestic Canary Island Palm Trees in the Modoc Road corridor.
Other matters of note around town:
Did you know the gas station on Milpas and Montecito streets sold regular gas for $2.90 a gallon for the entire year before President Joe Biden was elected? Although last week,gas prices were down to $5.13 a gallon, gas tnow costs $5.89 a gallon! Why?
Since gas is becoming unaffordable, is that also the reason for eliminating parking all over town? What is their angle?
Gov. Gavin Newsom just signed another bill that gives more largess to the developers, as it diminishes our quality of life.
AB2097 allows commercial construction to be built without any parking within a half mile of public transportation.
Are we supposed to ride a bicycle or take a bus to go to the store, or to a restaurant? Without parking, where will all these electric vehicles park? Or charge their cars? Is it the government’s goal to get cars completely out of the picture?
Did you know that approximately three years ago, the Santa Barbara American Institute of Architecture’s Charette worked with city staff to redevelop State Street, proposing to change our city parking lots into housing? (There’s no need for parking if you can’t afford to put gas in your car.)
These downtown parking lots are full most of the time. What will happen to all these businesses downtown, including the restaurants, if these parking lots are eliminated?
Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse appears to be the only leader on the City Council who is not afraid to say what he thinks and represents many of his constituents. He listens to all sides of the issues and presents a methodical common-sense approach. Sadly, for the city, he appears to be consistently outnumbered and outvoted.
It’s a proven fact, the world over, that closing streets and prohibiting cars and parking on main streets, destroys the commerce in those areas. Look at the Funk Zone, where motorists can drive down streets and find parking. The Funk Zon is open, and it’s thriving with business.
The majority of those who want State Street closed are the State Street restaurant owners, the bike coalition, AIA and Visit Santa Barbara (funded by the city). What happens when winter comes and the grasshopper has nowhere to shop?
Speaking of funded by the city: Tuesday’s Ordinance Committee meeting featured a presentation of the Police Oversight Ordinance drafted by the Community Formation Commission, city staff, public input and some of the members of the police department. The creation of the police oversight committee was the result of the Black Lives Matters’ demands after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
During the last presentation on June 7, Gabe Escobedo and other members of the CFC appeared unhappy with the proposed results chosen from the recommendations.
On Tuesday, after 90 minutes of discussion, at the last-minute, Councilmember Kristen Sneddon made a calculated request that the red-lined changes to the ordinance suggested by Gabe Escobedo via private email, be added to amend the ordinance.
As a result, these red-lined changes were not allowed to be discussed during the meeting, nor available to the public.
Surprisingly, Mr. Escobedo had just said during public comment, while he did not agree with everything, he was prepared to support the ordinance as written.
We find it disingenuous of Councilmember Sneddon, who speaks of “protecting the integrity of the process,” yet the last-minute inclusion of changes appeared as a slight of hand. he goal of such a commission is to illustrate transparency and create trust between police departments and the public it serves.
Councilmember Sneddon remarked, in reference to former law enforcement on the commission, “I don’t want it undermined by a public perception that anyone on there is skewing it in one direction or another.” Really? Accepting the red-lined corrections without discussion came off like backroom dealing.
Only Councilmember Jordan voted against the motion. He asked Councilmember Sneddon how she could add the redlined corrections without public review. She responded it’s just a few changes.
However, after receiving a copy from the City Administrator’s Office, we find 13 redlined changes. (These changes are available by request.)
Councilmembers Oscar Gutierrez and Sneddon were adamant that commissioners are not required to go on a four-hour police ride-along. Since they request extensive training, the ride-along is imperative. To judge a person, one must walk in their shoes.
Recall that Mr. Escobedo and CFC’s recommendations for the oversight committee would have cost the taxpayers an additional $672,000 added to the budget annually.
This important item returns to the city council Oct 11.
Bonnie Donovan writes the “Did You Know?” column in conjunction with a bipartisan group of local citizens. It appears Sundays in the Voices section.