Wednesday, June 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on May 14th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 10

Did you say north or no?

Everything’s great in Santa Barbara County!


 The folks behind the North Santa Barbara County Economic Summit announced on May 9 that unemployment was down—hurray!—in the county, meaning only 6.3 percent of us are out of work. That’s the same rate as the nation as a whole!

The numbers are certainly better now than they’ve been in years past, when we were all trolling or trawling the depths of the Great Recession.

Except some people are still in the midst of trawling or trolling, and I’m not talking about people in neighboring counties.

Orcutt came in at 7.2 percent—which isn’t horrible, I suppose. I mean, it could be worse. But then we move to Los Alamos (9.3), Santa Maria (10.1), Guadalupe (11.1), and Lompoc (11.4).

There are some areas doing well in our neck of the county (Solvang is sitting as a stellar 2.3 percent), but the unemployment scale is weighted very heavily toward the north end of our slice of California, and it’s still a good deal worse than it was back in 2007.

I’m not knocking the economic summit organizers for how this information was presented. Not at all.

I do get the sense, however, that South County residents aren’t so concerned with those numbers. In fact, if I’m being honest, I get the sense that South County residents—and leaders, since I’m going all truthful on you—see North County as little more than the future home of the jail.

The sun rises in the south, as it were. It sets there, too.

Consider the current sheriff’s race. There’s been one debate between the two candidates, and it happened on the lower side of the Gaviota Pass. The League of Women voters brought the two Browns together to talk about how they’d police—er, sheriff—the whole county, and the whole thing was televised for the rest of us to watch, but it’s not like we northern inmates—er, residents—haven’t tried to bring the conversation a fraction closer to the top of the world.

Andy Caldwell attempted to get the candidates into the north, but I suppose sitting Sheriff Bill Brown was worried about how a debate would go if it were organized by Mr. COLAB. He’s certainly outspoken, but as far as I know, Andy can moderate, too.

Jay Turner of Sunny Country fame tried, too, but his attempt fizzled. Any ideas why? I don’t have one.

Even the Sun aimed to get in on the effort to bring the sheriff candidates up close and personal to the people of the north. Sandra Brown agreed, and Bill said OK, sure, sounds good, but let me see if … oh, wait … well … hmmmm … actually, you know what? The lead-up-to-Election-Day calendar is so totally packed, it’s not going to work. How ’bout just an interview?

Scheduling is hard.

I hear that the candidates were planning a debate for the northern half of Santa Barbara County, but it obviously hasn’t happened—and I’m not putting any money on it happening. One strategy-theory supposes that a debate could happen after the June run-off, but there are only two candidates, so this one’s going to be a play-for-keeps sort of deal. The time for a debate that North County residents can claim as their own is now or never.

And the north could use some respect.

Back in 2009, Deborah Brasket—then the executive director of the Santa Barbara County Action Network—wrote a column for the Santa Maria Times in defense of affordable housing. One line in particular stood out to me: “The fact is, the people who need affordable housing are people we trust to wash our carpets, serve us coffee, groom our dogs, pick our produce, mow our lawns, service our cars, cut our hair, and teach our children.”

She was trying to show that affordable housing—which certain people don’t want anywhere near them—isn’t for druggies and hoodlums. Or it’s not only for them.

 Her words were directed at the whole county, but I picked up a tone that seemed—to me, anyway—as being directed at the southern-siders.

You trust these people with your well-coiffed poodles, soy lattes, and prize gardenias, right? I mean, you allow them to feed you. You allow them near or even into your homes, so you’ve got to admit that they’re not filth.

Soon, we could add to the list: “The people who need affordable housing are people we trust to police our inmates.” Maybe that jail will bring down unemployment a bit in Santa Maria and Lompoc. Then we wouldn’t need as much affordable housing. Then Santa Barbara will … well, I don’t know. Santa Barbara doesn’t really pay attention to us now, so probably not much would change, except perhaps we could finally have enough sway to get a debate up here.


The Canary is full of northern aggression. Send comments to

Weekly Poll
What's your first thought when you hear the word "Lompoc?"

My time at the penitentiary.

| Poll Results