Bonnie Donovan and Natasha Todorovic
Santa Barbara, West Coast jewel, home of the environmental movement and the American Riviera, is trying to hide a horrifying secret? It’s so terrifying that the city’s Planning Department staff are sweeping it under the bureaucratic rug. This is a surreal, Hollywood-movie-of-epic-proportions story. Imagine looking outside your window and seeing men in hazmat suits across the street. They were given directions to Cottage Hospital in case of contact with the dirt. Huh? Dirty dirt? Don’t dismiss this as a bad joke. During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, architect Gil Barry sounded alarms on a proposed project at 3139 Sea Cliff. The carcinogenic dust spreading into the air and water is being ignored by city staff so they can issue a building permit. The former nursery at the location used DDT, then called Dieldrin, a pesticide designed to eat through cell membranes. Should you and Dieldrin dust meet, cells can turn cancerous on contact. This toxic mess spans 3 acres permeating soil 3 feet down. Wind spreads it. The sloping hill dumps the toxins into Arroyo Burro Estuary, spilling into Hendry’s Beach a block away. Staff are excluding it from both environmental impact review and the coastal permitting process, hence perpetrating a city-sanctioned contamination of Hendry’s. By the time residents develop cancer, city decision makers will be retired on their citizen-funded pensions. Grab your wetsuit and surfboard, and ride the polluted waves. City staff, and the county, knowing about this for a decade, are passing the buck to the Single Family Design Board.