Monday, September 28, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 30

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on December 10th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 41 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 41

CANARY: Aurora contrarialis


Good news everyone! Santa Maria City Council finally approved its public art master plan. The proposed plan divided the city in 2016/2017, pitting developers and conservatives against artists and liberals. Oh no! 

Umm. Well, actually, I guess that’s just the same ol’, same ol’, when it comes to dividing lines. But, guys, it wasn’t the art that split the city. It was a proposed fee on developers that would pay for it. Duh!

Good news everyone! They still haven’t answered the question of what exactly is funding this master plan. Yeah, it’s been two years and they still haven’t figured it out. For some reason, the City Council members voted exactly the way they would have voted two years ago: To not levy a fee on developers to pay for putting art up all over town! 

So ... what happened, city staff? 

Why put forward a funding plan that you know your elected bosses are going to vote against? Is it job security or something? Now you get to work on this plan for even longer! 

While Santa Maria has an art plan, and won’t get anything done on it until the city’s artsy residents figure out how to get people to pay for art that could potentially pull tourists in, Solvang’s dropping cash like it’s hot on tourism schemes!

These two Santa Barbara County cities couldn’t be more different, amirite? I mean, aside from the obvious empty mall downtown versus the “quaint” Danish downtown village. 

Solvang and Santa Maria are kind of like county supervisors 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann and 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam. One uses the word Nazi to describe people who don’t believe in climate change, while the other just needs to say that there are actually people out there who don’t believe in climate change. One believes in not spending money on frivolous things while the other believes in spending a buttload of money on frivolity.

Solvang City Council voted to spend about $200,000 on Julefest this year, $60,000 of which is going to put on Aurora Dronealis! It’s a drone light show that you folks can pay $15 to $500 (The VIP Experience, where you get to meet the drone pilots! Oooo. Ahhhh.) to see up close and personal! Wow, guys. 

Those big dollar signs come after a rousing fight with the city’s ex-tourism arm—the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau (SCVB)—and a bad break-up over marketing, money, and what sorts of events the city should be hosting. 

“We will not host any ‘f---ing’ episodes of The Bachelorette,” I imagine Mayor Ryan Toussaint screaming to his besty behind a chocolate shop one night. “Not while I’m mayor!”

That was one of the SCVB’s big ideas. It would have cost $30,000, plus it’s just so, like, not Solvang, you know? 

Yeah, spending twice that on a drone show makes so much more sense!

Wait a minute! I thought the city was trying to tighten its purse strings. Well, at least, that’s what Toussaint told the Sun earlier this year. He didn’t like the way that the SCVB was spending money, and he was going to do something about it! 

Now, he’s telling the Sun that the whole point of these events is to break even. So we’ll see if the city can make its money back on the drone show and a bigger, better, more badass Julefest. 

The canary is looking forward to watching the drone show from the air. Send comments to

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