Bloom town: Girls Inc. dresses up Carpinteria with An Evening in Bloom

Girl's Inc.'s annual gala, An Evening In Bloom, produced an elegant evening and fundraising boost for the local organization dedicated to seeing local girls bloom into strong, smart and bold women. (Photos David Powdrell and Robin Karlsson)

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Litigation threats push city oil drilling ban to November

By Peter Dugré
The Carpinteria City Council played political action committee at its Oct. 13 meeting by officially endorsing Measure U, the $90 million Carpinteria school bond initiative, and Measure P, the Santa Barbara County ban on hydraulic fracturing among other oil extraction techniques. Although on a roll, the council was unable to find consensus on its third heady topic, whether to ban oil drilling in Carpinteria, specifically at Venoco Inc.’s property, where the company has applied to drill.

Litigation threats
City Councilman Al Clark had proposed addressing whether to change zoning at Venoco’s Dump Road Oil and Gas Processing Plant earlier in the year, and since then Venoco’s application for its Paredon Project has been deemed complete by city hall, clearing it to begin the long approval process. At the Oct. 13 meeting, city staff said that as part of ongoing analysis of city zoning codes, there are several options to alter the zoning code in ways to either ban drilling there or to more closely regulate drilling projects.

Venoco’s property is zoned coastal dependent industrial, which allows it to conduct operations serving the offshore oil platforms. Its zoning designation also currently allows it to drill for oil. The council could alter zoning in several ways, either by prohibiting oil drilling at coastal dependent industrial sites or by changing the zone of the site altogether.

Several oil industry representatives and Venoco’s local Vice President Ian Livett addressed the council and stated in no uncertain terms that acting to prohibit drilling on the property would induce litigation. Livett characterized the timeliness of the city’s analysis of the company’s zoning as “a direct attack on Venoco’s application,” and said changes “would force Venoco to take all measures necessary to protect its property.”

The company’s local operations manager Larry Huskins echoed the sentiment. “Because of potential litigation here, I think the taxpayers wouldn’t want to pay for the costs …,” he stated of the council’s potential action.

Dozens more locals urged the council to ban drilling at the site, which would ban all oil drilling projects in the city of Carpinteria unless new sites were found and rezoned to allow drilling. Carpinteria city attorneys explained that if the city bans drilling, it would be vulnerable to litigation. Attorneys said the city’s zoning powers are broad according to California law, but the current proposal was in no way bulletproof.

Local resident Jim Taylor, who is also Vice President of Carpinteria Valley Association, called on the city to act. “If the people of this city cannot trust elected representatives to prevent a new, highly industrial activity in the city, then what good is the city?” he asked.

City Councilman Gregg Carty proposed intensifying local drilling oversight and regulation but not banning drilling. The other council members all wanted further information on litigation risks specifically tied to actions it could take, so the council decided to postpone any decision until its Nov. 24 meeting.

In conclusion, Mayor Brad Stein said, “When it comes to litigation, that’s an old threat, and we’ve never shied away from it. We should make the best decision given the information.”

Yes on P
In a split 3-2 vote, the city council decided to endorse Measure P following intense public debate. Gregg Carty and Wade Nomura voted against endorsing the measure. They said the measure is too divisive and would not fairly represent Carpinteria’s entire populace. Nomura said he felt the action was “outside (the council’s) purview” and could potentially “alienate 50 percent of the voters of the community.”

The Water Guardians, the group supporting the county-wide ban on fracking, acidizing and cyclic steam injection as techniques for oil extraction, brought Measure P to the ballot because the oil industry techniques contaminate groundwater, they say.

Oil industry representatives and others opposed to Measure P argued that the Water Guardians are campaigning based on fear of fracking all while the technique is not even used in Santa Barbara County. Cyclic steam injection, however, is a commonly used technique in the county, but industry representatives argued that no problems have arisen from cyclic-steam injection in its 50-year history. Industry representatives at the city council meetings equated banning cyclic steam injection on county land to a shut down of the oil industry, an important part of the North County economy and labor force.

Ultimately, Mayor Brad Stein and councilmembers Al Clark and Fred Shaw voted to add the City of Carpinteria to list of endorsements for Measure P. The council majority agreed with the Water Guardians’ position that the oil extraction techniques jeopardize groundwater supplies, which know no city limits. Stein called support for risky techniques in North County short sighted. “Once water is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no price to put on that,” Stein said.

Yes on U
In another 3-2 vote, the city endorsed Measure U, urging voters to support Carpinteria Unified School District in its request for $90 million dollars to upgrade local schools. Councilmen Al Clark and Wade Nomura opposed endorsing the measure. Nomura said he does not think it’s the council’s place to make political endorsements. Clark opposed the bond as being too big and too general.

“I have a problem with the lack of specificity. I’d like to see a bond measure with a list of specific projects and a list of specific costs,” Clark said. Nomura said he personally will vote for Measure U.

Supporters of Measure U were numerous at the meeting. Schools in Carpinteria were all constructed over 50 years ago and desperately need technological and structural upgrades, many said. If enacted, Measure U will add $47 per $100,000 of assessed property value to property taxes within CUSD.

“Having safe and up to date school facilities is something we should expect. It’s a reflection on our community,” councilman Carty said.

Multiple black bear sighting reported in foothills

Multiple black bear sighting reported in foothills
Photo by Tim Gallup

A few weeks after a Carpinteria woman survived a black bear attack off Highway 150, reports of new bear sightings have cropped up. MontValMar Ranch residents reported a black bear perched in a tree between 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 and early evening on Oct. 11. Karen Burns, who informed Coastal View News of the sighting, said she had reported the bear to Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which did not investigate. MontValMar Ranch is about 1/2 mile west of Carpinteria High School on Foothill Road.

Additionally, regular Franklin Trail hiker Jenny Cota saw a bear on the trail at around 6 a.m. on Oct. 9. The bear was on switchbacks about 1/2 mile from the top of the trail, and its back was as wide as the trail, she said. "He turned his head to look back, grunted and kept walking," Cota commented. She and her companion had seen flashlights ahead of them on the trail and called out to fellow hikers. They then decided to hike down, and later realized that the bear had slipped in between them and the other hikers, who were only a couple switchbacks ahead. Cota said she still plans to hike the trail, but not as early.

Plaza to bring feminine figure of the Wild West to life: Q&A with Calamity Jane playwright

Plaza to bring feminine figure of the Wild West to life: Q&A with Calamity Jane playwright
Catherine Ann Jones said when Plaza Playhouse Theater asked to produce her play, “Calamity Jane,” she did not hesitate in giving them the green light. The show will be staged on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between Oct. 17 and 26.

By Peter Dugré
Catherine Ann Jones was fed up with the weak territory female characters occupied in the imagination of Broadway playwrights in the 1970s when she decided to stop acting and to start writing. She penned “On the Edge” about Virgina Woolf at that point. The story of Woolf’s struggle with madness in a post World War II world gone mad won her a National Endowment for the Arts Award. She followed that early success with other titles such as “Calamity Jane,” written in 1984, which she has written both as a musical and as the play that will be staged at Plaza Playhouse Theater over two weekends between Oct. 17 and 26. She calls Calamity “a free independent woman who paid the price.”

Jones later became a screenwriter in Hollywood, and stuck to social and spiritual content; “I had an odd and tiny niche, because I’d only do socially conscious stories,” she said. She worked on the show “Touched by an Angel,” and also had a parallel career as a teacher. Her books, “The Way of Story: The Craft & Soul of Writing” and “Heal Your Self with Writing,” are commonly used in classrooms, and she won the prestigious Nautilus Book Award in 2014. For more biographical information and courses, visit

Calamity Jane lore has survived the test of time. What makes her such a fascinating figure of the American frontier?

She embodied the Wild West but as a woman. When you think of cowboys, you think of Wild Bill Hickok; you think of Buffalo Bill Cody. As a woman she was doing what men were doing back then. She was an Indian Scout, a stagecoach driver. She was ahead of her time. And she was a crack shot as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

You've said it's important to you to be able to separate her true story from myths of the Wild West. How does the true Martha Jane Canary compare to the larger-than-life Calamity Jane?

These were historical characters. She really lived. Then there were the newspapers and the penny novels that would deal with these characters and embellish them. One of the themes of the play is myth versus reality. Often what really happened is more interesting than what’s romanticized. The play is the true story, not the Doris Day Hollywood version. There’s a lot of comedy in the play and also a rougher side. Some of it can be sad. You’ll laugh, but you might also have to wipe a handkerchief on your eyes.

What lessons can today's audiences learn from Calamity Jane's story? Why does she still resonate?

I wrote this in the early ’80s when the feminist movement was strong at the time. She was a real crusader. She embodied that Wild West spirit of expansion, courage and stubbornness, going where you want. There were no boundaries, and you were doing what you can do. One reason we love these stories so much is the freedom and independence that we no longer have. I’m not a big feminist, but quite simply she was just an amazing, larger-than-life character.

You've worked for television and have acted on Broadway. What appeals to you about a production at a small venue like Plaza Playhouse Theater?

I have been impressed by the (Calamity Jane troupe) being so committed. They love theater. It reminds me of when I started out in small theaters off Broadway. Obviously you don’t do it for monetary reasons, but for the love of theater. That’s contagious. I went to rehearsal and you just feel they love theater, so you have to love it.

Also the Plaza’s long history makes it a good venue for Calamity Jane. It gives it that old-fashioned feeling. I’ve seen a couple of shows there, and they did really good work. When they asked (to produce the play), I didn’t hesitate.

If you were a fly on the wall outside of the theater following the show, what reaction from an audience member would you find most pleasing?

This is the fifth production of this particular play. What I love to see in an audience is when they laugh a lot and they have tears come from their eyes at appropriate moments. There’s so much life in this play and in Calamity. Theater is life. It’s not something shot and a then a year later you see it on a screen. There’s nothing like the live theater experience.

Following a showing of the Calamity Jane musical, I was outside and a woman turned to me, not knowing I was the writer, and she said, “I’ve been going to Broadway shows for years, and this is the best I’ve ever seen.” That’s pretty thrilling. I was then a young writer. Those are the rewards. When people say, “I loved it.” Theater is an exchange of love, a kind of love affair.

Organics winners feted

Artists and art lovers gathered on Oct. 11 to celebrate the diverse works in the show Organics at Carpinteria Arts Center. Juried by prominent South Coast painter Hank Pitcher, the show will hang through Nov. 17 at the gallery located at 855 Linden Ave. Martin Franco won first place for his handmade cane entitled “Penguin,” and Clayton Sipiora won second place for his photograph "Life and Death in Colma.” Gary Campopiano won third place for his painting “Gaviota." (Photos by David Powdrell)

Warriors win 35-14 in Temecula

Warriors win 35-14 in Temecula
Warrior running back Aaron Vargas shuttles the ball up the middle of the scrum in a 35-14 Warrior win. (photo by Jim Spann)

By Peter Dugré
Barely any time had ticked off the clock at Rancho Christian High School in Temecula when Fernando Martinez crossed the goal line on a kick return touchdown to give Carpinteria High School football a lead they would never relent. Following the score on the opening kickoff, the Warriors built a 28-0 lead by halftime and ended the game ahead 35-14 in improving their season record to 4-2 on Oct. 11.

Coach Ben Hallock commented that the Warrior defense made impressive plays early in the first half to seize control of the contest. Timmy Jimenez forced a turnover on downs on Rancho’s first possession with his tackle. Later, Omar Miranda recorded an interception.

Richie Gallardo, who had handed the ball to Martinez to help spring the kick-return touchdown, contributed his own 60-yard running touchdown in the first half.

“Overall we played very well,” Hallock said. “They had a good team, good athletes and will have a very good program in the near future.”

The Warriors will play their final game before Tri-Valley League competition begins on Friday, Oct. 17 at Cantwell Sacred-Heart in Montebello. Hallock said the final tune up before league will be a tough test. Cantwell has a group of playmakers that will be hard to keep up with. The Warriors will need to remember defensive assignments, get after the football and tackle well, he commented. Offensively, the Warriors will further develop the running game and its tactic of possession football, in which the key is to limit the opposition’s time of possession and chances to score.

Harvest Gala reaps bounty for Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel School in Montecito draws many of its students, parents and staff from Carpinteria ranks. Locals including school Principal Karen Regan, parents Melinda and Benji Trembly and teacher Rosalie Galvez were among 400 attendees to the school's fundraiser at Bacara Resort on Oct. 11. (Photos by Lea Boyd)

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