Saturday, July 20, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 20

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on September 5th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 27 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 27

Boxed in

Everybody loves choices, right? But what happens when you only get a very superficial range to choose from? What if they're all pretty much the same?

That's what Santa Maria's handy types and do-it-yourselfers are asking themselves now that Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) is closing down (see page 7). 

While OSH may be a multi-state chain, customers loved the Santa Maria location because it was smaller in size than the monolithic Home Depot off Betteravia and felt more like a small-town hardware store. The staff there was friendly, remembered your name, and shared knowledge and advice on projects you had at home.

The decision to shut it all down came from parent company Lowe's, which said that OSH wasn't meeting "profitability standards." Well, I wonder why that might be. Maybe they did elsewhere what they did in Santa Maria–open a Lowe's literally down the street from an OSH, becoming their own competition.

Now all those customers will either have to support a local hardware store (gasp!) or wander through the dueling box stores on Betteravia, which are big enough that you begin to wonder why they haven't built a monorail or a gift shop selling postcards. 

Now the OSH shopping center will have two empty anchor stores. Michaels was the first to go, moving to a bigger spot near Highway 101. It's another example of businesses on Broadway getting undercut by all the big-box-store development just off the highway. Michaels made it to the area just in time for Costco to move out of its longtime Santa Maria location into its new digs as part of Enos Ranch as well.

But apparently Santa Maria's voracious consumer culture isn't too pleased with Costco's new setup either. According to a recent story in the Santa Maria Times, the city is looking at redesigning the street around Costco so locals have more options to pull in their cars. That one stop light just isn't enough and gets too congested, so they need more, more, more!

But wait, there's even more! Santa Maria also needs to redesign the onramp from Highway 101 on to Betteravia. They need more lanes, more visibility, and it's going to cost more money to accommodate all the extra traffic for the already congested artery. We're talking somewhere around $1 million!

Speaking of congested and expensive, overcrowding has been so bad in the California prison system that state lawmakers approved a realignment law years ago that let non-serious offenders out earlier. AB 109 not just releases those inmates, but also puts them under supervision by county parole departments, which try to connect them with services that reduce recidivism (see cover story on page 8).

That meant a lot of more funding for the Santa Barbara County's Sheriff's Office, Probation Department, and Behavioral Wellness. Well, at least the state is giving our local agencies more money for all the extra work.

Released inmates will have lots of chances for counseling and other support, but they run into the same lack of choices we all face locally when it comes to housing. One inmate awaiting release to the Central Coast told the Sun's sister paper, New Times, that he hasn't heard back from a single sober living home in Santa Barbara or SLO counties. 

It's kind of hard to get back on your feet when you're living on the street. At least there are plenty of box stores to sleep behind. 


The Canary still buys birdseed at Costco. Send your thoughts to

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