Santa Barbara County

Courtesy of Partners in Education video

Schools have moved to online education and that means every student needs a computer and internet access to participate. A program called Computers for Families provides refurbished equipment and technical support to families throughout Santa Barbara County.

More than 173,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States. We learn more about one of those who died of COVID-19 in July—Su Thao, a Hmong businessman and filmmaker who had a profound impact on thousands of others. Also on the program, Smart Share Housing Solutions helps people in San Luis Obispo County by matching homeowners who have extra bedrooms with those looking for an affordable place to live. Chuck Davison of Visit SLO CAL discusses the state of tourism on the Central Coast.

Since mid-June, Santa Barbara’s tourism marketing branch has been advertising the city as “Open for Travel,” an action which has brought some criticism.

SMPD

As thundering fireworks shows have been canceled throughout the Central Coast due to the pandemic, police are warning people not to get tempted into lighting their own shows using illegal fireworks.

Marco Bruschi

Younger adults are contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, and a spike in confirmed cases statewide has led California's governor to reinstate shut-down orders for all bars, pubs and brewpubs. And while not ordered to do so, San Luis Obispo city officials announced Wednesday that the city's bars must too close as of July 2. 

Katie Davis

Three projects aimed at expanding oil drilling in Santa Barbara County's Cat Canyon Oil Field were under consideration just three months ago. Today, only one remains.

Wikimedia commons

While stay-at-home orders remain in place statewide, people experiencing homelessness have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. To try to help that population, in early April, California’s governor announced Project Roomkey, saying a federal agency would pay 75% of the cost to house homeless individuals in hotels and motels across the state.

But how many hotel and motel rooms are actually currently housing homeless people on the Central Coast?

The California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is a place where engineers, scientists and students make prototypes for their projects —often using 3D printers. Dave Bothman, the lab manager, has lately been using the printers to make face shields for healthcare workers.

Greta Mart/KCBX

18 San Luis Obispo County jail inmates have been released from custody without having to pay any bail, as of April 17. That’s due to a statewide effort to quickly reduce jail populations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the number of inmates eligible for release is a small percentage of the jail's total population. 

On this episdoe of Issues & Ideas: We learn more about a STEAM—science, technology, engineering, the arts and math—program for middle school students offered by the Foundation at Hearst Castle. And a nationwide shortage prompts distilleries in San Luis Obispo County to turn production over to hand sanitizer. We hear more about a nonprofit organization called 'School on Wheels' that tutors homeless children in Santa Barbara County. And Father Ian takes us on an educational tour of Central Coast olive groves and olive oil producers. 

California Coastal Commission

Hollister Ranch is a 14,000-acre property located on the Santa Barbara County coast, between Goleta and Point Conception. A gated community surrounded by a working cattle ranch, real estate ads for Hollister Ranch tout its eight-and-a-half miles of private beach frontage.

But a new law authored by Santa Barbara state assembly member Monique Limon requires increased public access to Hollister Ranch’s seashore.

The Santa Barbara County city of Solvang is now offering an amnesty program for residents with unpermitted additions. 

Tyler Pratt/KCBX News

All evacuations have been lifted in Santa Barbara County even as firefighters—and the rain—continue to work on putting out the Cave Fire, which started Monday in the Los Padres National Forest. What began as a small brush fire has now burned thousands of acres, and forced thousands of people to flee from areas of Santa Barbara and Goleta. But for many in the community, the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday were just part of the California new normal.

Mike Eliason/SBC Fire

As of Wednesday morning, despite over an inch of rain overnight, firefighters continue to battle a wildfire in the mountains above Santa Barbara. A portion of Highway 154 remains closed, but all evacuation orders have been lifted after the Cave Fire broke out in the Los Padres National Forest, near the top of San Marco Pass Road in Santa Barbara County, on Monday afternoon. 

Courtsey PG&E

The most recent announcement from energy company, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), listed San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties as “elevated” for potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events, which could begin Sunday and Monday.

flickr member Andrew Imanaka

The city of Santa Barbara has been added to the list of Central Coast communities facing a power shutoff this weekend. The Santa Barbara police department announced Friday afternoon that the shutoff may take place starting on Sunday afternoon, through Monday.

Daniel Bertucelli/SBC Fire

A fast-moving vegetation fire closed US Highway 101 for a few hours Thursday night northwest of Santa Barbara. Campgrounds in El Capitan Canyon and at the state beach were evacuated. As of 10 a.m. Friday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said evacuated campers and residents are being allowed back in the campgrounds to get personal belongings left behind. The state beach campground remains closed. 

Ventura County Fire Department

The bodies of  34 victims have now been recovered, after a Santa Barbara dive boat caught fire early Labor Day morning near Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands. The 75-foot vessel, the 'Conception,' was a commercial diving boat with 39 people aboard. Five crew members survived. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated.  

KCBX Two-Way: After budget cuts, what's next for Lompoc?

Jul 31, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

A recent announcement that the Central Coast’s Vandenberg Air Force Base will serve as a key operations center for the country’s expanding military activities in space has put a focus on the city of Lompoc.

On this week's episode of Issues & Ideas: Do you want to make your home wildfire resistant? A landscape design expert says much of the conventional wisdom about native landscapes and fire is wrong. Greg Rubin, president and founder of California's Own Native Landscape Design, is coming to San Luis Obispo on August 1 to share techniques he has developed to create sustainable, ecologically responsible, fire-resistant landscapes. 

Courtesy of the SBC Agricultural Commissioner's office

Strawberries and wine grapes remain the top two agricultural crops in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. And crops and cattle are still among the top economic drivers in Santa Barbara County, but agricultural revenue dropped there last year, according to the county's new annual crop report out Friday.

Issues & Ideas: Cannabis odor, berries and Harmony glass

Jul 1, 2019
KCBX News

On this week's Issues and Ideas, there has been a lot of discussion about cannabis grows on the Central Coast, especially when it comes to the plants' odor. In a conversation produced by KCRW's "The 805: Stories from the Central Coast" podcast, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams dives into the issue and allegations he has been too chummy with cannabis lobbyists.

Wikimedia Commons

The Lompoc Valley Cannabis Association (LVCA) is gearing up to host its first “CannaBrew,”  a social mixer for those involved in the area’s cannabis industry. Organizers hope Wednesday’s networking event will serve as another step in turning Lompoc into a cannabis destination.

CDC

Following a measles quarantine of hundreds of students at Los Angeles universities, Central Coast health officials are on high alert, they say. Since January, over 700 cases of measles have been reported in 22 states.

VCFD

Southern California Edison power lines touching each other in strong winds definitely started the Thomas Fire, according to a report released Wednesday by the Ventura County Fire Department.

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire

UPDATE 3/6/19 8 A.M. Evacuation orders are now lifted for all areas of Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said many roads may be impassable or have standing water and mud, but the immediate danger of debris flows has passed.

Around 3,000 Santa Barbara County residents are evacuated  from their homes once again this week. Rainstorms starting Tuesday are expected to be severe enough to potentially cause debris flows and mudslides, especially with already-saturated ground. The forecast prompted Santa Barbara County officials to issue evacuation orders starting at 4 p.m. on March 5 for those who live near or below the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas Fire burn scars.

ReadySBC.org

UPDATE 1/15/19 6 P.M. Santa Barbara County has now lifted the evacuation orders issued on Jan. 14. 

According to the county's office of emergency services, "the National Weather Service has advised that critical rain rates did not materialize over the area as expected. Showers are expected through late Tuesday night, but rainfall is not anticipated to reach critical levels to cause debris flows. However, a high surf advisory remains in effect until 8 p.m. Friday, January 18."

Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the day a SoCalEdison electrical transformer blew up and sparked a small brush fire in Ventura County. 60-mile-an-hour winds fanned that into the Thomas Fire, at the time considered the largest wildfire in California’s modern history. That was, until the Mendocino Complex and Camp Fires eclipsed it.

Courtesy of the Chumash Life YouTube channel

The same architect who helped design the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC is working on a new cultural center and museum coming to the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County.

SBCOE

An analysis of how Santa Barbara County responded to the December 2017 Thomas Fire and January 9, 2018 Debris Flow was delivered to the Board of Supervisors this week. It’s called the "After Action Report and Improvement Plan." The supervisors heard from a third party about what the county did well in the midst and wake of the disasters, and how it can do better in the future.

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