Santa Barbara County

California is in the middle of a whooping cough epidemic, the worst the state has seen in 70 years.

The outbreak's latest fatality was a 25-day-old baby in Santa Barbara County. It's the county's first recorded death from the disease—also called pertussis—and only the second death in California since the outbreak started last year.

Flickr member Your Pal Dave

Safeway Inc. is paying nearly $10 million as the result of an investigation that found more than 500 stores, including some Central Coast stores, were violating environmental regulations. 

District attorneys in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, along with 39 other California district attorneys and two city attorneys announced the settlement Monday.

The settlement resolved allegations that Safeway, Vons, Pavilions and Pak 'n Save stores and distribution centers were improperly handling and disposing of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste.

Homeless housing facility opens in Isla Vista

Dec 17, 2014

Santa Barbara County says nearly three dozen homeless individuals will soon have a roof over their heads as a new housing facility has opened its doors in Isla Vista.

It's called the Pescadero Lofts and the first people began moving into their apartments Wednesday. The county's Housing Authority hopes to have everyone moved in by Christmas.

National Weather Service

Tuesday and Wednesday could see the strongest storm to hit the Central Coast since a Pacific storm last March slammed into the area.

The bulk of the rainfall is expected to take place from Tuesday afternoon into the evening hours, with up to five inches of rain possible along the local foothills and mountains.

Maria Long is organizing warming shelters to bring people out of the wet and cold this week, through her organization, Freedom Warming Centers.

Culminating a week of violence and arrests, Righetti High School students were released from classes early on Friday as Santa Maria Joint Union High School District officials felt rumors—the subject of which have not been disclosed—were causing too much of a distraction.

Randol White - KCBX News

There is no sign of rain in the forecast for the Central Coast, according to the National Weather Service out of Oxnard. Temperatures are expected to be above normal through the weekend.

Local emergency officials say conditions are ripe for wildfire despite the rain received over Halloween weekend.

Average fuel moisture levels in Santa Barbara County are at 56 percent—drier than what is considered critical according to County Fire.

The threat of large wildfires will remain high until the Central Coast gets several inches of widespread rainfall.

Photo by Jeanne Sparks

Rallies both for and against a proposed fracking ban in Santa Barbara County hit the streets of Santa Maria Wednesday around lunchtime.

The Yes on Measure P supporters initiated the effort to rally North County voters. The No on Measure P side got wind of it and staged their own counter demonstration.

Representatives from both sides tell KCBX the interactions were civil. They say anywhere between 70 and 100 people participated with more more people showing up for the yes side.

Flickr/Ben Klocek

The latest campaign finance figures from the California Secretary of State's office and the Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder show the battle over fracking is a costly one on the Central Coast. And, the contributors footing most of the bill are big oil companies.

This November's Measure P is designed to ban the use of high-intensity oil extraction methods—including fracking, acidizing, and steam injection—by future oil and gas projects on unincorporated Santa Barbara County land.

Allan Hancock College

A refinancing move by the Allan Hancock College District is expected to save some Santa Barbara County taxpayers nearly $6 million in the years to come. 

Back in 2006, voters approved Measure I, a $180 million bond to pay for facility and technology improvements at Allan Hancock College. Last week, a portion of those bonds were resold at a better interest rate for taxpayers.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Concern over the possibility that the Ebola virus could makes its way to the Central Coast has local health agencies working on outbreak plans. 

Santa Barbara County Public Health says it has new protocols in place and is teaming with local airports to help identify potential patients. County Health Officer, Dr. Charity Thoman, says the infrastructure put in place could deal with a number of different infectious diseases.

While Ebola is the headline maker currently, because it is so mysterious, Thoman says there are other, more serious health concerns we should address;

Critical fire weather expected this weekend

Sep 30, 2014

Portions of the Central Coast are looking at the possibility of critical fire weather later this week.

The National Weather Service says an offshore flow is expected Thursday through the weekend ushering in hot dry air for much of Southern California up into the Central Coast.

The strongest winds are expected late Wednesday into Thursday with temperatures peaking on Saturday.

Strong winds are also expected Monday evening along Santa Barbara County's Gaviota Coast.

Charges were filed this week against the 16-year-old driver of a truck involved in an accident that killed cyclist Matthew O'Neill last month near Santa Maria.

It happened on Foxen Canyon Road on August 9th.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office says the boy is facing misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges. He is also charged with two infractions; driving a commercial vehicle without a license; and non-compliance with driving terms and restrictions.

Project Clean Water Facebook Page

The Central Coast numbers for this weekend's Coastal Clean-up Day are starting to come in and Santa Barbara County looks like it had an increase in the number of volunteers and trash collected.

Project Clean Water says more than a thousand people came together Saturday at sites county-wide, collecting roughly 4,800 pounds of trash and recyclables. 

Santa Barbara County

Rescue teams were searching for a missing swimmer at Arroyo Burro beach in Santa Barbara County Friday afternoon.

Witnesses tell authorities that a male swimmer was seen going in the water with his dogs this afternoon. The dogs were seen returning to shore, but not the man.

Santa Barbara County Fire says a helicopter was called in to search the area in addition to a Harbor Patrol boat and jet ski. Two rescue swimmers also combed the area for about a half an hour, but found nothing.

Randol White, KCBX News

Some hotter than normal temperatures have arrived on the Central Coast and are expectd to peak this coming weekend. As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

Richard Abrams with the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management says the agency works closely with public health and county fire at times like this.

First Solar

Plans to build a large solar project in the Cuyama Valley now have the unanimous support of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors voted on the project Tuesday afternoon after hearing from several speakers in favor of the project and none against, according to Jefferson Litten with the Community Environmental Council, an organization supporting the solar field.

This marks the first utility-scale solar project for the entire county.

Citrus Research Board

San Luis Obispo County agriculture officials say a dangerous pest is moving farther north and causing fear among citrus growers.  Ag Commissioner, Martin Settevendemi, says the pest has now been found as far north as Cayucos, following recent sightings in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande.

All locations have a surrounding quarantine affecting nurseries and commercial citrus to prevent further spread. The public can also help by not transporting fruit with stems and leaves still attached. All of Santa Barbara County is under quarantine. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

The man suspected of killing his parents and two sons last month in Santa Barbara County is scheduled to be in court for his arraignment this morning. 45-year-old Nicolas Holzer did not enter a plea during his last court appearance back on August 13.

Holzer faces four murder counts and one count of felony animal cruelty for killing the family dog.

Flickr member anneheathen

Santa Barbara County's Animal Services is rewriting its ordinance on dogs and owners rights and responsibilities.

The Public Health Department has already drafted the proposed changes to the existing ordinance and is holding two meetings this week to hear public feedback.

U.S. Geological Survey, July 24, 2014

Officials in California are hoping Labor Day boaters will help keep invasive quagga and zebra mussels in check this Labor Day holiday weekend.

“Californians have a unique opportunity to enjoy numerous natural resources,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Doing your part to clean, drain and dry before heading out to recreate will help keep them free of quagga and zebra mussels, as well as other invasive species.”

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Marie became a Category 4 storm Sunday morning as it moved north, hundreds of miles off the West Coast of Mexico and farther out into open ocean.

The National Weather Service predicts potentially damaging surf generated by the storm to impact south and southeast facing beaches of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, with surf building on Tuesday and peaking Tuesday night into Thursday.

There is potential for some of the highest surf seen in recent years for a southerly event, with max sets of 10 to 15 feet possible.

Santa Barbara County OES

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services (OES) issued an Urgent Public Health Issue advisory Friday morning regarding a case of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

"Agustin Zeferino, a 24 year old male, has a contagious case of drug-resistant tuberculosis," the advisory said. "Without proper treatment, Mr. Zeferino’s condition poses a serious health risk to individuals who come into close contact with him, as tuberculosis is spread through the air from one person to another."

Twitter feed for Carrie Kelly ‏@CarrieHKelly

Increased numbers of blue jelly fish—known as velella velellas—are washing up on Central Coast beaches according to scientists with California State Parks. Reports out of Southern California show a similar situation.

This summer the large colonies have been spotted at several state beaches in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.

"The numbers have been large enough over the past several weeks to get people’s attention," said Vicky Waters, Deputy Director for Public Affairs with California State Parks.

Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey Counties all saw the median price for homes jump significantly in the latest year-over-year sales figures.

San Diego-based DataQuick says Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties had gains of more than eight percent, while Monterey County jumped nearly 12 percent for July.

The year-over-year number of homes sold is down in all three counties with Santa Barbara County seeing the largest drop.

Flickr member HereStanding

Thousands of residents on the Central Coast may find their tap water has a rank taste and smell this summer.

The offending compound is known as MIB (2-methylisoborneol), and can give water an earthy, musty essence.

Several communities in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties that supplement their supplies with state water are affected by the seasonal change, which recently registered higher than expected for this time of year.

San Luis Obispo County Water Laboratory Manager Faith Zenker says despite its unpleasant qualities, its not a health hazard.

Stock photo: Flickr member Tex Texin

UPDATE: August 13, 2014 at 5:21 p.m.

The Santa Barbara County man accused of killing his parents and two young boys Monday night made his first appearance in court Wednesday afternoon, but did not enter a plea.

A continuance was granted in the case against 45-year-old Nicolas Holzer at the hearing.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the charges against Holzer Wednesday morning, saying he faces four murder counts and one count of felony animal cruelty. 

Broadcast date: 8/6/14

Over a quarter century ago, the non-profit Family Care Network started as a program to offer foster care services in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.  Since then the organization has expanded to provide family support, transitional and independent living services, early intervention to keep children and youth out of the foster system, educational and mental health support, and much more.  Marisa Waddell talks with the Family Care Network's CEO about how the non-profit is making a difference in our local communities.

Santa Maria-Bonita School District

Students in Santa Maria will head back to school on August 12 facing overcrowded classrooms and campuses.

The Santa Maria-Bonita School District is working to address the problem by building 12 new classrooms at its Tommie Kunst Junior High.

A Santa Maria construction company was awarded the bid at a special session of the board of education Thursday. Its bid was the lowest.

A new yet-to-be-named elementary school campus is also under construction. Both projects are being self-financed through loans.

Flickr member Mike Baird

Santa Barbara County will begin work on the process for implementing a ban on certain forms of oil and gas drilling, should Measure P pass this November.

The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at a special meeting Tuesday to start the process.

Measure P calls for a ban on new forms of high intensity extraction, including fracking. Current oil and gas operations in the county should not be affected by the proposal according to the group that got it before the voters, the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department

An investigation into Monday night's apartment explosion in Goleta shows it was caused by a process used to extract oils from marijuana.

One person was badly injured during the incident and was being treated for third degree burns immediately following the event, according to Santa Barbara County Fire spokesperson Capt. David Sadecki.

It happened at a two-story complex on Elwood Beach Drive in Goleta.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department says the process known as Butane Honey Oil conversion resulted in a flash fire.

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