Santa Barbara County

First Solar

UPDATE: July 22, 2014 at 5:53 p.m.

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to approve plans for a large solar project in the Cuyama Valley.

The proposal passed with a couple of amendments aimed at protecting California condors.

Jefferson Litten with the Community Environmental Council says public comment ran 19 to 2 in favor of the project.

The issue now heads to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Original Story

The state Employment Development Department said Friday that California gained more than 24 thousand jobs in June, with education and health services seeing the largest increase. The state's construction industry saw the weakest growth. 

Olga Hernandez is a research analyst for the department and says the unemployment rate is measured by the number of people who are not actively part of the labor force and who receive unemployment insurance.

KCBX News

San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Tim Covello, who lost to Dan Dow in a heated June primary race for the office of District Attorney, is headed to Santa Barbara County.

An announcement Thursday afternoon from current District Attorney Gerry Shea's office says Shea supports the decision, and he praised Covello for his time as a county prosecutor.

According to the announcement, Covello will continue to be a prosecutor with the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office.

Flickr member Damian Gadal

Strawberries continue to be Santa Barbara County's largest crop based on gross earnings, but wine grapes are quickly gaining steam.

The county's wine industry knocked broccoli production out of the number two spot for 2013 with a total value of $163 million.

The Agricultural Commissioner's office released the most recent crop report late Tuesday afternoon. It shows total value of all the local crops at more than $1.4 billion, up nearly ten percent from 2012.

U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson

Santa Barbara County's Surf Beach will be closed from June 27 to Sept. 30 because the maximum number of violations tolerated to protect the nests of the federally-listed Snowy Plover was exceeded.

Beach restrictions are enforced yearly on Wall, Minuteman and Surf beaches during the snowy plover's nesting season. If a pre-determined number of violations are detected, the beaches are closed for the remainder of the nesting season.

This week there were 11 violations reported, putting the number at Surf Beach more than 50, the pre-determined limit.

GIVE Project in Isla Vista Facebook Page

The sales numbers for last weekend's Give Sale in Isla Vista show the event raised a record $43,000—$6,000 more than last year.

That money will be dispersed at an event this Friday to the local participating organizations that provided volunteers for the event.

The items sold each year come from students who are moving out of the area, and include clothing, furniture, and books.

Organizers estimate more than 30 tons of merchandise was sold this year, keeping those items out of the local landfill.

The Give Sale has been a part of the community since 1990.

Unemployment rate continues to drop on Central Coast

Jun 23, 2014

The unemployment rate continues to fall along the Central Coast with Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties down to 5 percent for the month of May.

Monterey County's rate is higher at 7.4 percent, but that's down more than a full point from a year ago.

Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties have consistently been among the top performing locations in the state in terms of job growth, following the recession.

California's overall rate is 7.1 percent, which has also seen a downward trend this year.

Flickr/Ben Klocek

The issue of fracking, acidizing, and other forms of oil and gas extraction in Santa Barbara County is headed to the November ballot.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors met Friday for a special session in Santa Maria to discuss an oil drilling measure brought by the group Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, who collected roughly 16,000 valid signatures this spring.

An overflow crowd, both for and against the proposed ban, turned out for the public comment period.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is holding a special session Friday in Santa Maria to consider options for a ban on certain forms of oil drilling.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m.

The Santa Barbara County Water Guardians gathered enough signatures to get an initiative on the ballot which, if passed, would ban land uses related to fracking, acidizing, and other high-intensity gas and oil operations within the county's unincorporated areas.

A Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report published Tuesday highlights budget concerns over the future operations of the proposed North County Jail.

The facility, just outside the Santa Maria city limits, was designed to help with the county's jail-overcrowding problem. Construction is expected to start next year with completion estimated for May of 2018.

The jury's report says there is an "uncomfortably high probability" that funding the jail's future operation could require new revenue sources, a cut in county services, or both—based on the county's budget plan.

Transit Unlimited Wiki

Students grades k-12 will have a free ride this summer on public transit throughout San Luis Obispo County. They just need to show their school ID in order to take any fixed route without having to pay cash.

The program includes RTA, SLO Transit, South County Transit, Paso Express and Morro Bay Transit.

Monterey-Salinas Transit offers a youth pass for $38, which is good for rides throughout the summer.

Santa Barbara County does not currently offer a summer student deal.

Paddy Langlands, SB County staff

Orange mesh safety fencing is going up along the cliffs in Isla Vista, as Santa Barbara County officials search for a better option to keep residents and visitors safe.

It began going up Wednesday at Pelican and Pescadero Parks along the bluffs. The installation should be complete by next week, according to the county.

All eyes on November for winners of Tuesday's election

Jun 4, 2014
Jeremy Raff/KQED

A new round of campaigning is just beginning for the candidates involved in three separate Central Coast races that have been extended to November as a result of Tuesday’s primary elections.

Longtime incumbent and Democrat Lois Capps secured her spot in the race for California's 24th Congressional District. She faced a record number of challengers under the state's new "top two" primary system.

Representative Lois Capps' 24th District congressional seat serves all of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties and had a wide range of challengers on this year's primary ballot with eight different people, including Republicans, Democrats and one Independent.

Capps has held the seat since 1998, taking over for her late husband who held it prior to her.

As of Wednesday morning, Capps took in the highest number of votes on Tuesday with 44.5 percent. Her challenger this November will be Republican Chris Mitchum who garnered 15.6 percent of the vote.

Oscar Flores - Twitter @oflores

UPDATE: May 26, 2014 at 5:36 p.m.  

Seven people are dead, including the suspected gunman, and several people are still recovering from injuries following a series of shootings and stabbings in Isla Vista on Friday night. One of the hospitalized victims was still in serious condition as of Saturday.

Investigators believe 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, a Santa Barbara City College student from Woodland Hills who was living in Isla Vista, started his killing spree by stabbing to death his two roommates and a third man.

Flickr member Mike Baird

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has ordered a report to detail how a ban on specific methods of oil extraction would affect the local economy, and any legal ramifications that might stem from implementing such a ban.

The board will meet again next month in Santa Maria to finish discussing the proposal, and whether it will end up on this November's ballot.

If passed by voters, the ban would target newer forms of oil and gas extraction, including fracking.

The Santa Barbara County Clerk says a local group has collected enough signatures to qualify a proposed ban on fracking for a public vote. Santa Barbara County Water Guardians has been working on the issue for the last couple of months. The county's board of supervisors now has the option of either vote the initiative into law directly or bring it to voters on the November ballot. Members may also decide to order a report on the impact of the initiative.

Twitter: @CALFIRE_SLO

THURSDAY UPDATE: 6:11 p.m.—Santa Barbara County Fire Department investigators have concluded that the Miguelito Fire was started when untrimmed trees came into contact with a live power line.

Investigators say a 12,000 volt power line feeding the plant located at 2500 San Miguelito Rd. in Lompoc, contacted a tree causing embers to drop down and ignite the dry brush along the hillside.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

A longtime youth soccer coach in the Santa Ynez area is in custody on $100,000 bail, charged with sex crimes against a child.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department says 42-year-old Jose Diaz was arrested Tuesday in Solvang for having sexual relations with a teenager when the girl was 14 and 15 years old. 

Diaz has been a coach with the local American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) girl's league for nearly two decades. Sheriff's detectives are concerned there may be more victims.

Santa Barbara County Water Guardians

The Santa Barbara County group working to get a fracking ban on the November ballot says it has turned in roughly 20,000 signatures to qualify its initiative.

The County Registrar of Voters must now go through the signature certification process. Should at least 13,201 check out, it will then be up to the Board of Supervisors to either adopt the initiative or put the measure on the ballot.

If passed by voters, the initiative would target newer forms of oil and gas extraction, including fracking.

Flickr member DieselDemon

An effort to ban new forms of petroleum production in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County is gaining momentum and getting support from at least one other organization.

Santa Barbara County Water Guardians is working to collect 13,200 signatures by May 7 to qualify The Healthy Air and Water Initiative to Ban Fracking for the November 4, 2014 ballot.

If passed by voters, the initiative would target newer forms of oil and gas extraction, including fracking. 

One dead, one injured in Cold Spring hiking fall

Mar 18, 2014
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department is looking into a weekend hiking incident along Cold Spring Trail that killed one person and seriously injured another.

Investigators say 22-year-old Saylor Guilliams of Ventura is recovering from two broken ankles at a Santa Barbara area hospital. She was rescued by helicopter after being spotted by a group of hikers on Monday afternoon.

Santa Barbara County Parks

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to keep the rock revetments and parking lots in place at Goleta Beach Park.

The large chunks of rocks in question work to halt erosion into the parking lot and grassy areas. But local environmentalists, including the Santa Barbara Surfrider chapter, argue that studies show rock seawalls eventually work against sandy beaches, causing them to disappear.

It's now up to the California Coastal Commission to issue a permit for the park to keep everything as is.

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