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King Tide watchers wanted

Some of the highest tides of the year are expected to hit California over the Thanksgiving holiday, potentially flooding streets, causing erosion and structural damage along the coast, and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper needs your help to document them. This year El Niño conditions could intensify these so-called “king tides,” causing water levels in excess of 7 feet in parts of Southern California and in excess of 8 feet in parts of Northern California. A predicted storm during the Thanksgiving holiday week could cause increased flooding on low lying roads, damage to piers and cause waves to crash ever closer to beachfront homes. Individuals interested in volunteering to monitor the tides should email jennad@sbck.org.

This annual natural occurrence during the winter months provides a glimpse into what communities can expect from seal level rise. In a report released last year, the National Academy of Sciences projected a one-foot rise in sea levels by 2050 and three feet by 2100 along the California coast. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has advised planners to prepare for a conservative estimate of five feet in sea level rise by the end of the century.

“The extremes of today will be the averages of the future,” said Charles Lester, executive director of the California Coastal Commission. “Sea level rise will challenge our fundamental ways of living and building along the coastline.” The state agency, which is charged with preserving the coast and regulating coastal development, has been working to address sea level rise.

The California King Tides Project supports partnerships through citizen science and formal education projects throughout the state. Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is organizing the local effort to monitor king tides from Gaviota down to Emma Wood State Beach. The California King Tides dates for the 2015-2016 winter are as follows, Nov.24, 25 and 26; Dec. 22, 23 and 24; and Jan. 21 and 22.

City gives Caltrans go ahead: Linden/Casitas Interchange project to commence in 2016

By Lea Boyd
The Carpinteria City Council approved a project that will more dramatically change local traffic flow than anything since the construction of Highway 101 over 60 years ago. The Linden/Casitas Interchange Project, a $63 million edit to Carpinteria roadways over a decade in the planning pipeline, received 3-1 council approval for city permits on Nov. 23.

Councilman Al Clark unexpectedly voted against the plan in symbolic protest for what he called deficiencies in the Caltrans environmental review process that led to the Rincon and Santa Claus Lane bike paths being excluded from the main project. Caltrans has jeopardized those bicycle and pedestrian improvement components by treating them as separate projects, Clark said. He announced that he could safely send the message of disapproval knowing that the remainder of the council votes (three because Wade Nomura recused himself) would be made in favor of the project.
Major aspects of the massive project will be the widening of both the Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road highway overpasses from 35 feet to 65 and 89 feet respectively and the extension of Via Real over Carpinteria Creek to Casitas Pass Road and from Vallecito to Linden Avenue. A roundabout will be built near the intersection of Ogan Road and Linden Avenue, and the northbound on and offramps at Casitas Pass Road will move to the east of the Casitas Pass Road.

The four-year project will be implemented in phases to minimize its impact on local traffic. A timeline for those phases is still being ironed out, but the initial work, expected to commence in the fall of 2016, will likely be grading the Whitney property to make way for the extension of Via Real and the Casitas Pass Road on and off ramps.

Caltrans must provide the city with $538,947 to build community gardens at three sites as a mitigating measure to offset the five acres of agriculture converted in the project. A community garden is planned for the city’s 5th Street property adjacent to the Amtrak Station, another will be placed on a four-acre portion of the Whitney property that will be deeded from Caltrans to the city, and a third garden is planned for Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main.

Though the project has cleared city and state hurdles, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s approval of a revised Carpinteria floodplain map must be granted before Highway 101 bridges over Carpinteria Creek are replaced.

Currently the low bridges function as a damn when the creek rises to the structures. In severe flooding, such as that which took place in 1969, water is blocked by the bridges and moved west along the highway to Franklin Creek. As a result, the existing map of the 100-year flood plain shows significant flooding in the Franklin Creek area. Raising the height of the bridges and allowing water to flow down Carpinteria Creek would remove around 270 homes from the floodplain.

The catch, however, is that infrastructure changes cannot add new structures to the flood plain, and according to the current map, by raising the bridges, the interchange project would add eight to 10 structures south of the highway to the flood plain.

The city and consultants have scrutinized the existing map and concluded that it is flawed. In a 100-year flood, Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling said, water would top the bridges and continue down Carpinteria Creek, causing flooding below. Thus, the city has argued to FEMA, the existing map should be revised to include several additional downstream structures. If FEMA accepts that revision, the bridge replacement can move forward.

Clark votes no on Caltrans Project
Councilman Al Clark’s symbolic no vote for the Linden/Casitas Interchange Project slapped Caltrans’ hand for its failure to fold two related bike path projects into the original plans. The two paths are considered additional projects required under the city’s Local Coastal Plan Amendment as opposed to being incorporated into the Caltrans project, which Clark said would better ensure that they are built and costs are appropriately shouldered by all the partner agencies.

An Environmental Impact Report for the interchange project found significant impacts related to converting agricultural land on the Whitney property and construction of bridges to extend Via Real over Carpinteria Creek. “Those are really major impacts, and either one could have killed the whole project,” Clark said.

Instead of working the bike paths into the plans as mitigation measures, Caltrans
kicked them along to the city, which then incorporated them into its Local Coastal Plan Amendment, Clark said. The Coastal Commission’s approval amendment hinged on completion of the bike paths prior to completion of the highway projects; however, Clark said he is concerned that the paths are now viewed as the city’s “pet projects” and participating agencies are starting to balk at cost sharing and forward momentum. “What’s going to happen when all those smiley guys in the suits are standing at the ribbon with the big scissors and the bicycle paths aren’t built?” he asked.

The rest of the council members said they were confident that the paths would be built, and the city would hold the partnering agencies to their commitments for funding.

Smart & Final coming to Carpinteria
As the result of a federal bankruptcy court ruling handed down on Nov. 13, a Smart & Final Extra will move into the now shuttered Haggen building on Linden Avenue. The company expects to open doors to the grocery store next spring, according to an update city staff provided to the city council on Nov. 23.

“They will move into the shoes of Safeway on the lease for that store,” said City Attorney Peter Brown.

A Smart & Final Extra more closely resembles a traditional grocery store than the other two versions of markets operated by the company. Still, City Manager Dave Durflinger said, the brand caters more to the food service industry, offering lower priced goods and lacking a manned service deli or meat counter. “It’s not a Vons. It’s not a Haggen. It is not a store like the ones we’ve had in town here recently,” Durflinger said.

Haggen came to Carpinteria as the result of Safeway—the parent company of Vons—being purchased by Albertsons last spring. The Federal Trade Commission required several stores in close proximity to one another be sold off to a competitor to avoid negative impacts like price fixing. The Carpinteria store was one of 144 sold to Haggen. “Of course, that was a grand failure, as Haggen soon went out of business,” said Durflinger.

The city has been highly involved in the makeup of grocery stores in town but could play little role in what would follow Haggen. After the chain filed for bankruptcy in September, the court opened the sale of stores to bidders. Brown explained to the council that the highest bid is accepted in bankruptcy court as a means of best compensating the bankrupt company’s debtors. It was “kind of a cut and dry financial decision,” Brown said.

City adopts revised spay/neuter ordinance
Cats and dogs living in Carpinteria will now have until the age of six months to be spayed or neutered. A new ordinance requiring pet owners to fix their animals by four months was nearly codified in September, but public outcry, including that of long-time local veterinarian Dr. William Otto, sent city staff back to the drawing board. The revised version, which also includes greater latitude for vets to grant exemptions, is supported by Otto and many of the other voices of opposition. The council voted to adopt the revised ordinance on Nov. 23.

Vacation rental moratorium extended
The City Council voted on Nov. 23 to extend the moratorium on new short term rentals in the City of Carpinteria. Like many cities around the country, Carpinteria is reworking its approach to vacation rentals in response to the loss of housing stock lost. In January or February, city staff hopes to have a draft ordinance for the council to consider as a means of addressing the problem in the long term.

Berming around

Carpinteria's equivalent to a snowy hillside for sledding, the annual beach berm, is up. Lea Boyd and Julia Hinton documented some of the ways to enjoy the berm, which is erected to hold back high tides and winter storm surges.

Carpinteria man found deceased after standoff

Kristopher Kump, 31 of Carpinteria, was found dead in his Ocean View Avenue home following a standoff on Nov. 19. According to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, which had evacuated homes near the incident, Kump had been barricaded in the home wearing body armor and in possession of a bandoleer loaded with shotgun rounds. A handgun was also found near his body, in addition to numerous other weapons including a military style rifle with a grenade launcher attachment, approximately 1,000 rounds of ammunition and smoke grenades. Based on evidence found at the scene, it appears that Kump ignited a fire and then shot himself in the head.

The incident began at 6:45 a.m. when sheriff’s deputies first investigated a report of a break- in in Goleta at Kump’s former place of work. The back door to the business had been broken into and a work truck was missing. About an hour later at 7:45 a.m. the business owner discovered the truck outside of Kump’s residence. He encountered Kump, who displayed a firearm.

Sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers responded to the scene. They attempted to contact Kump but he was unresponsive. Since he was thought to be armed, the Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team was deployed and about a dozen area homes were evacuated and streets closed.

Officers attempted to contact Kump and requested that he come out of the home for several hours to no avail. Smoke emitted from the trailer at several points in the standoff, and it appeared as if he was attempting to ignite fires inside. At approximately 12:40 p.m. officers deployed inflammable tear gas into the residence but Kump did not come out. At 1 p.m. a fire broke out inside the trailer. When it was out, officers entered and found Kump deceased of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Kump had been arrested the previous night in the 4600 block of Carpinteria Avenue for possession of a controlled substance for sales and he was transported to the Santa Barbara County Jail but required medical treatment. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and released from custody. He fled from the hospital at 2 a.m. against medical advice.

The Sheriff’s Coroner’s Unit is conducting a death investigation. The official cause and manner of death is pending toxicology and lab results, which will take several weeks to complete.

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Fire District morale soars: Study to assess health of district, way forward

By Lea Boyd
Carpinteria-Summerland Fire District appears to be rising from the ashes of a failed bond measure and an administration/labor relationship gone bad. Firefighters, management and the board of directors all support a recent contract for an $86,000 Standards of Coverage Study aimed at identifying the best path forward: how and where to build new stations, whether to consolidate with another agency and how well the district is currently serving the public.

“It will be a great report card on how we’re doing,” said Interim Fire Chief Jim Rampton.
“At the end of the day, we hope to have enough information on where we need to go.”

Six months ago, the district underwent a major upheaval. Measure Z, a bond initiative to raise $10.65 million for a new fire station in Summerland and a remodeled Carpinteria station, failed to meet the two-thirds approval threshold in the May 5 election. Just two weeks later, Fire Chief Mike Mingee, whose relationship with firefighters had been contentious for years, announced he would step down before his contract ended. His early departure was one of the terms that settled a lawsuit brought on by three firefighters against the chief and district.

Kelly Baker, president of the CSFPD Firefighters Association, said that the firefighters’ relationship with Interim Chief Rampton is “night and day” from the adversarial one they had with Mingee. There is new transparency within the district, Baker said, and the board is no longer in the center of a tug-of-rope between firefighters and the chief.

Trust was lost on both sides of that relationship, Rampton said. He meets regularly with Baker so that decisions are made together for the best of the district. “Let’s try to mend those relationships and build those relationships back,” he said of his approach to the predicament.

As a result, there has been a “huge boost in morale” among firefighters, Baker said. “All the successful agencies out there have positive collaborative relationship between labor and management,” he added.

Board President Chris Johnson said that he is thrilled with the district’s transformation, but the task of funding a new station for Summerland, and possibly a Carpinteria remodel, remains unresolved. The Summerland firehouse is nearly a century old. It is seismically unfit and too small to fit a fire truck. Carpinteria’s 50-year-old station also fails to meet modern standards. “We’re in a crisis point in terms of needing new stations,” Johnson said.

Having been shot down by the public for funding, the district will have to find creative solutions, he said, and those include potential consolidation, another attempt at a bond measure, loans to the district and a highly downscaled version of the already permitted Summerland building.

Years ago, the Mosquito and Vector Control District agreed to sell the fire district its property on the corner of Lillie Avenue and Temple Street. Plans for a large new station at the site were vetted, approved and permitted before funds were secured. Johnson said that the district was criticized for “putting the cart before the horse” and for designing what opponents called the “Taj Majal” of fire stations.

In a meeting several months ago, Vector Control District representatives left Johnson with the impression that they are in no great hurry to sell the property. However, he said,  “Overall, the urgency comes from rising property costs and lack of available property.”

A couple years ago, the district contracted for a smaller scale study analyzing the best place for a new station or stations. Plans had already been approved for the new Summerland station, but members of the public and firefighters had questioned whether the site would serve the district best. Yet the results of the study were “focused and limited,” Johnson said, and considered time response without other key factors. “There was a lot of criticism that that study wasn’t vigorous enough,” he said.

The Standards of Coverage Study, for which CityGate Associates was hired, will be far more thorough, Baker, Johnson and Rampton said. CityGate will analyze district response times, staffing, expectations of the community and how the district meets industry and state standards, among other areas. A highly respected consultant, CityGate has completed similar studies for Montecito’s fire district and Santa Barbara County.


Delgado’s patrons party for 50

Delgado’s patrons party for 50
Christina Castellanos, pictured in white, and her employees raise shot glasses in celebration of Delgado’s restaurant's 50th anniversary. (Photo by Lea Boyd)

Back when Delgado’s restaurant opened its doors in 1965, the menu was full of dishes that cost just over a dollar, and 25-year-old Arthuro “Art” Castellanos and his wife Suzanne were the ever-present friendly faces greeting the steady crowd of customers. In 2015, prices are still reasonable (though not a dollar), 75-year-old Art still comes in to work every day and the crowd of customers remains hungry for the homestyle Mexican menu.

Fifty years of success in the restaurant business is a proud accomplishment, one that the Castellanos and their extended family of restaurant regulars celebrated with a private party at Delgado’s on the night of Nov. 16. A band played, food and drink prices were rolled back and golden balloons decorated the interior.

“I didn’t want it to go by without being recognized,” said manager Christina Castellanos, daughter of Art and Suzanne.

Doors to Delgado’s opened on March 17, 1965. The original menu relied on the recipes of Suzanne’s mother, Christina Delgado. Six months after welcoming their first Delgado’s customers, Art and Suzanne opened Pepe’s in Goleta, another restaurant that remains in the family and celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. In the year that the Castellanos opened two restaurants, they had three children under the age of 4.

Now two of Christina’s kids work at Delgados, and she hopes the next 50 years will bring continued success and a passing of the baton to the next generation. Critical to the restaurant’s past and present success, Christina emphasized, are the employees, particularly those who have worked there for years. Sara Mecham has waited tables at Delgado’s for 40 years. Other long-time staff members are Socorro Gutierrez, 19 years, Samantha Smith, 14 years, Patti Navarro, 18 years, and Veronica Gonzalez, 18 years.


Grin and beer it: Second Annual Volksmarch hops through town

Photos by Robin Karlsson
Pockets of bubbly beer ambassadors could be seen throughout town on Sunday afternoon bearing flags identifying them as participants in the second annual Volksmarch. About 90 people made the trek between Carpinteria’s three breweries, starting and ending at Island Brewing Company. The event raised spirits as well as food for the hungry. Each marcher donated nonperishables upon registration for the walk. Many dedicated brewery visitors completed the circuit and earned a medal to wear proudly and cherish forever.

Alleged cocaine dealer busted

Alleged cocaine dealer busted
Detectives seized more than a pound of cocaine, a firearm, ammunition and cash at a Carpinteria Avenue residence on Nov. 11.

Following a two-month investigation, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Detectives with the Special Investigations Bureau, arrested Duke Overbach on Nov. 11 and seized more than one pound of cocaine. Overbach, 37, a convicted felon, was under investigation for suspicion of selling cocaine. A search warrant was served at Overbach’s residence in the 4700 block of Carpinteria Avenue. In the home, Sheriff’s detectives discovered more than one pound of cocaine worth an estimated street value of $42,000. They also found other evidence related to the sales of narcotics, including cash suspected as profits and proceeds of cocaine sales. Overbach was also found to be in possession of a semi-automatic firearm, ammunition and an illegal belt-buckle knife. Overbach was booked on charges of possession of cocaine for sales, being a felon in possession of a firearm, a felon in possession of ammunition and a felon in possession of an illegal belt-buckle knife. His bail was set at $35,000.

Sheriff’s detectives are also requesting the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office review the case and file child endangerment charges due to the fact there were children living in the home where the alleged drug trafficking occurred.  

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