SBCAN Action Alert - Buena Vista Park, PCEC oil wells, Community Choice Energy

Santa Barbara County Action Network
Action Alert
May 6, 2016

1. Speak up for Buena Vista Park at City of Santa Maria Recreation & Parks Meeting, Tuesday, May 10
2. Speak out against Pacific Coast Energy Company's plan to add 96 cyclic-steaming oil wells on Orcutt Hill, Wednesday, May 11
3. Speak up for Community Choice Energy ASAP
 North County "Looking Forward" Awards Dinner, Sunday, May 22, in SM

1. Speak up for Buena Vista Park at City of Santa Maria Recreation & Parks Meeting, Tuesday, May 10
The City of Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission will consider plans for renovating Buena Vista Park during its 4 p.m. meeting on Tuesday, May 10 in the City Council chambers, 110 E. Cook St., Santa Maria.

Plans costing $1.8 million have been drawn up that would remove the existing bell-shaped sidewalk and central circle that commemorate California's history. The four half-court basketball courts and all the picnic tables would also be removed. The five mature trees might also be removed if "they are in the way."

Please read my editorial at for more details.

We are asking members of the public to show up at the commission's hearing to try to keep the 1970s design of the city's first park while adding new amenities to it. It is possible to do. The park was the city's first park and its reason for incorporation. It is a city historic landmark and should be preserved, according to the city's own guidelines on landmarks.

Here's what the park looks like now:




Here's the last design we saw from the city:


Here's what we propose:


When you overlay the designs, you see there is enough room to do what the city wants without tearing out what is there. 


Here's what we'd like from the city:

Top Three Points

  1. Keep the existing amenities: the trees, the bell-shaped design of the walkway and the center circle (use it for events), the basketball courts and the picnic tables (disperse them around the park).
  2. Add innovative play structures for all ages of children and for those with disabilities.
  3. Add lighting for safety.

More Detail:

  • Save bell-shaped design and add a bell or two. The design was installed in the 70s to honor El Camino Real and California’s history. Buena Vista Park was deeded to the community in 1897 and turned over to the city in 1906. According to the city’s website, the purpose of creating landmarks is “to promote the general and economic welfare of the City by preserving and protecting those places, sites, buildings, structures, works of art and other objects having a special historical, cultural or aesthetic character or interest for the use, education and view of the general public, and to remind all residents of the City and visitors from elsewhere of the historical backgrounds of the City.”
  • Save the existing trees. The amenities the city wants to add can be added around existing trees. They are not “in the way.” Mature trees cannot be replaced with new trees. They take decades to grow to their full size.
  • Preserve the basketball courts and add more to make one or more full courts.
  • Move the playgrounds further away from the basketball courts to separate the adults from the children.
  • Install innovative playgrounds that will enhance learning, socializing and exercise opportunities for all ages and for persons with disabilities.
  • Design the park with features that will distinguish it from all other parks. What is it’s signature piece – a unique playground set perhaps, or historic bells, or …?
  • Have an area in the center with power outlets and lighting for special events.
  • Don’t close the entire park for seven months during the renovation. This is possible with our plan.
  • Stretch dollars farther by keeping existing amenities and adding to them.
  • Add trees and plants that enhance the environment for birds and butterflies. Add fruit trees for people.
  • Add bike racks, benches, serenity garden, perimeter walk/run, solar lights, fountains with dog bowls.
  • Perhaps a skating or biking area.
  • Create a nature area behind Camp Fire cabin.

If you'd like more information, please email [email protected].

2. Speak out against Pacific Coast Energy Company's plan to add 96 cyclic-steaming oil wells on Orcutt Hill, Wednesday, May 11

The proposed Final EIR for Pacific Coast Energy Company’s plan to add 96 cyclic-steaming oil wells to its Orcutt Hill property is to be considered on Wednesday, May 11 by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission at the Betteravia Government Center in Santa Maria. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. and this item is expected to come up sometime after 10 a.m.

SBCAN will be urging denial of the project. The big picture is that we need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, especially to address global climate change. This project does not help; instead the county should be encouraging and approving renewable-energy projects. Greenhouse gas emissions are listed in the EIR as a Class II environmental impact. In light of the County’s threshold of 1,000 metric tons of GHG emissions, adopted last year, the GHG impacts of the project are far more limited than they would have been absent adoption of that threshold. Still, 1,000 metric tons of GHG emissions PER YEAR hurts our efforts to maintain our planet’s livability. 

The detailed picture is that there are solid grounds for denial of the project: Class I impacts that are significant and unavoidable in the areas of sensitive species habitats and hydrology and water quality. We should be doing all we can to save endangered species like the California tiger salamander (CTS), among others.

There are alternatives in the EIR that are designed to protect the CTS; PCEC, in its comments on the Draft EIR, wrote that the CTS alternatives, “fail to meet project objectives to an unacceptable degree.” Our county should not put oil-company profits ahead of working to ensure the survival of an endangered species. 

There are also alternatives in the EIR that are designed to reduce the probability of the cyclic steaming exacerbating the oil seeps (which have occurred naturally, but have been exacerbated by cyclic steaming) and to reduce the probability of “surface expressions,” which are the surfacing of steam and other materials injected into the ground. There are also mitigation measures that would reduce the frequency or severity of an oil spill reaching a drainage or waterway. In each alternative and with the mitigation measures, impacts would remain significant and unavoidable. 

We need to argue vigorously that these impacts can be avoided only by denial of the project.

Please join us at the Planning Commission hearing on May 11. If you will join us and would like more information, please call Ken Hough at (805) 563-0463.

3. Speak up for Community Choice Energy 

Community Environmental Council is calling for letters supporting Community Choice Energy. We urge you to send a letter as we did. Here's the information from Jefferson Litten:

Good Afternoon Community Choice Supporters, 

2016 is shaping up to be a great year for Community Choice Energy (CCE) in California.  This week CleanPowerSF, San Francisco's Community Choice program, launched after years of tireless advocacy from supporters in the Bay.  In the coming months in San Mateo and Humboldt counties are also scheduled to launch programs - meaning that in a twelve month span, the number of Community Choice programs in the State will double!  All told, there are 80 California Communities, encompassing 60 percent of the states electrical customers, are in some stage of exploring Community Choice or have programs up and running.  

Our local Santa Barbara effort continues to progress as well. As many of you know, since Santa Barbara County voted to begin evaluating a local CCE Program last June, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties and 24 local cities have all joined the effort.    We are expecting the technical feasibility study spanning all three counties to be completed in early fall of this year.

In order to continue our progress towards launching a local program, it's very important that our local governments continue allocating funding for Community Choice Energy evaluation and implementation in the coming budget year.  Santa Barbara County staff have asked for a $275,000 budget enhancement for CCE for 2016/2017  (GREAT NEWS).  This funding will allow progress towards launching a program continue without delay or obstacles once the technical study is completed in the fall.  However, a budget enhancement request does not guarantee that CCE will be funded in 2016/2017;  This CCE budget request will be considered among literally millions of dollars of budget enhancement requests from other County departments. (NOT SO GOOD NEWS)

Therefore, in order for the County to prioritize funding CCE, it is very important that the SB County Board and County CEO's office hear that our community supports CCE!    You can help.  I've attached a support letter that I encourage you to customize and send to the Board of Supervisors and CEO.  The Board's final votes for funding will made in June, though the County CEO's office is preparing their recommended budget right now so please send your support letters ASAP!   

The emails of the SB County Board, CEO and Chiefs of Staff are included below:  (If you do send a letter, please "bcc:" me so I can track support).

Click here to download a sample letter in Word format.

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]  

Mona Miyasato, CEO:
[email protected]

Chiefs of Staff:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.   Thanks for supporting Community Choice and a Clean Energy Future!

With Gratitude, 

Jefferson Litten
Director of Energy and Climate Programs
Community Environmental Council
805-963-0583 x105