Friday, June 5, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 14

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on August 6th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 23

CANARY: Dollar bill drama

By The Canary

I’m not sure what they put in the water down in Solvang, but whatever it is, it’s spicy! 

The Canary

A battle brewing over how the biggest little Danish tourist city in Santa Barbara County spends its tourism dollars reached a fever pitch in July after the City Council voted to slice its funding to two organizations that spend a lot of time bringing in that visitor revenue. 

Honestly, the whole thing is a bit confusing—because the political gadflies in the self-proclaimed “Danish Capital of America” just lend that sort of sour flavor to things. Remember all of that hullabaloo over the Solvang Trolley & Carriage Company? Who knew that a quaint small-town business could be such a flashpoint for a bunch of retirees with nothing better to do? 

In this case, though, it doesn’t help that the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau and the Solvang Chamber of Commerce are saying one thing while the city is saying another. The city claims that the chamber’s president threatened to sue the city over its June 24 decision to terminate contracts with both tourism entities and enter a renegotiation period for less. The chamber claims that no such threat took place. 

During a July 23 meeting, City Councilmember Daniel Johnson alluded to the dissemination of fake news, which I can only assume was a shot at the chamber. He didn’t specify.

City Councilmember Robert Clarke could barely manage the steam coming out of his ears that night. Clarke, who apparently can’t say the word “shit” on the dais, was adamant about how the city needed to tighten its purse strings in order to provide services to the greatest number of residents. He added that if people didn’t like the council’s decision, there’s an election every two years.

Ooh, boy. Them’s fightin’ words.

“We’ve been pretty vilified via email and voicemail and on the streets over our decisions on tourist funding,” Clarke said. “The chicken S [said with emphasis] thing to do would be to cave in to the 30 people who show up at every meeting.” 

Bam! Take that, haters!

Then the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau put out a press release taking a potshot at the city, claiming that, “Effective today, Aug. 1, 2019, major staff and service changes solely due to funding issues have been made.” Changes, the release said, that included laying off the bureau’s executive director, digital media director, and bookkeeper because the city offered short-term funding that just wasn’t enough. 

Wow, city of Solvang. WTF? 

But wait. The city issued its own press release in response. Duhn, duhn, duhn. 

The city claimed that on July 31, the city and the bureau reached an agreement to fund two full-time staff positions and operate “key visitor services” (whatever the hell that means) through the end of August. The city also claimed that it would have done more, but the bureau gave notice of the over-dramatic changes too late for City Council to do anything about it. 

Take that visitors bureau. 

I still don’t know what the hell is going on, but I have to admit, I’m loving all of the drama. 

The Canary wants some of whatever Solvang’s drinking. Send your thoughts to 

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