Issues and Actions 2017


Santa Barbara County Action Network
Issues and Actions

December 2017

Protection of Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin: Over the last three years, SBCAN has been the lead organizer raising concerns about the potential for petroleum products to contaminate this basin, which is the primary water source for 200,000 people. Finally, this year, we gained official acknowledgment of contamination emanating from some 60 current and abandoned oil wells or other facilities. The protection of the basin remains a challenge that SBCAN will continue to pursue with vigor. 

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Improvement of Water Resources through Storm Water Projects: SBCAN has proposed several projects to improve water quality and quantity while providing habitat protection and passive public recreation through capturing storm water runoff. The County will consider these in its Storm Water Resource Plan. New projects can be suggested. SBCAN will continue to be involved in this issue.

Protecting Farmland: The Rancho La Laguna Subdivision proposal to subdivide 4,000 acres of ranchland and row crops north of Santa Ynez Valley along Foxen Canyon Road into 13 lots for the construction of 13 luxury estates runs counter to SBCAN’s objective to preserve commercial agricultural lands. SBCAN is represented by the Environmental Defense Center. In April 2017, the County Planning Commission rejected the staff recommendation and ordered that Findings for Denial be prepared; those findings were approved and the County Board later upheld the denial. SBCAN continues to oppose the proposed annexation of the Bailey Avenue Corridor to the west of Lompoc and to monitor other threats to farmland.

Public Forums on Big Oil and Clean Energy: SBCAN, together with Food & Water Watch and Safe Energy Now: North County, hosted well-attended forums in Solvang and Santa Barbara to build awareness of the threats posed by proposals to drill more than 750 new cyclic-steaming wells in East Cat Canyon and to support local renewable energy. Proposals by three oil companies to reactivate old wells and drill new wells are in various stages of environmental review. All of them are proposed to use various extreme oil-extraction techniques, because the easy-to-reach oil has already been produced. These proposals raise serious concerns about carbon emissions and groundwater pollution. We have gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions urging the County to deny these projects. We will continue these efforts.

Community Choice Energy:  SBCAN has supported the creation of a Community Choice Energy authority in Santa Barbara County, perhaps in league with Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.  A feasibility study, led by Santa Barbara County, was not encouraging.  Some of the assumptions may have been flawed and different geographical boundaries may prove to work better, such as not trying to have an authority that needs to work with both PG&E and Southern California Edison. Lower electricity rates and cleaner energy sources are at stake.

Phillips 66 Oil-by-Rail Terminal:  Following the 2016 denial of this project by the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission on a 3-2 vote, the Board of Supervisors denied it on a 3-1 vote.  SBCAN testified before the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors to urge a renewed statement of the County’s opposition, rallied volunteers to testify before the SLO Board of Supervisors.  SBCAN was one of the first local organizations to bring this issue to the attention of other activists in Santa Barbara County.

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety:  SBCAN continues to advocate for pedestrian and bicyclist safety, especially with staff and public officials in the City of Santa Maria. SBCAN welcomed the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition to Santa Maria as it opened its fourth do-it-yourself bicycle maintenance and education center: Bici Centro Santa Maria. We have begun collaborating on strategies to encourage safe cycling, including an Open Streets Day in Santa Maria.

Affordable Housing and Help for People Experiencing Homelessness: SBCAN has played an active role in these issues through participation in the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness, the Santa Barbara Rental Housing Task Force, and the Mobile Homeowners Project, among others.   

Farmworker and Immigrant Rights: SBCAN continues to work with CAUSE to protect farmworker and immigrant rights.

Public Transportation in North County: SBCAN continues to advocate for improved public transportation in North County.

Commuter Rail from Ventura County to Santa Barbara and Goleta: SBCAN continues to advocate for this important rail service, most recently through commenting on the California State Rail Plan.

Annual Membership Meeting: In January, SBCAN held its annual Membership Appreciation Meeting. New county supervisors Joan Hartmann and Das Williams were our featured speakers. The meeting helps build bridges between activists in the north and south parts of the county.

SBCAN’s G.R.E.A.T. Community Brunch:  This event, with 150 participants, recognized our state of national peril and extraordinary grassroots resistance. “Gathering Resistance and Effective Activism Together” featured a conversation among the leaders of some of our key environmental and social justice organizations to share ideas about how to work most effectively together.

SBCAN’s North County “Looking Forward” Awards Dinner: This year’s awards dinner brought together 140 people to celebrate the progressive and selfless work of six individuals from Santa Maria, Lompoc, Guadalupe and Santa Ynez. While it is a successful annual fundraiser, its main importance is the building of community. 

Monthly Roundtable Meetings: SBCAN holds monthly meetings in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara to discuss numerous issues and to coordinate with other organizations. These meetings, which have been held since SBCAN began, help build bridges among progressive community groups and strengthen all efforts to bring about positive change.