A recent health agency check landed Santa Barbara a surprise: a D grade for its smoking laws.

The city, known for its clean environment, is now looking to toughen its ban on smoking rules.

He helped create special effects for some of the iconic movies in the “Star Wars,” “Back To The Future,” and “Star Trek” franchises. Now, Jeff Mann has returned to his roots as an artist.

This weekend, the Ventura County man is joining forces with dozens of other artists showcasing their work for the Ojai Studio Artists tour, to raise money for art scholarships.

(Phillips 66 Photo)

After three years of review, a controversial proposal to expand facilities at a Central Coast refinery to handle huge oil train shipments has been rejected.

The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission turned down the proposal by Phillips 66 to expand its rail facilities in Nipomo.

The company wanted the ability to handle three large trains of crude oil a week at the facility. The proposal led to massive opposition by communities throughout the state near rail lines, with many people fearing potential death and destruction which could come from a major derailment.

Santa Barbara County is getting a new Public Defender.

Tracy Macuga will take over the top spot in the Public Defender’s office in November. She’s been involved in criminal defense law for more than two decades in public and private practice. Her experience includes stints in public defender’s offices in San Diego, and Riverside Counties. She was most recently Assistant Public Defender in Riverside County.

Macuga fills a vacancy created by the 2015 appointment of then Public Defender Raimundo Montes De Oca to a Santa Barbara County Superior Court seat.

A Ventura County man who was illegally selling weapons including assault rifles has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Federal prosecutors say Joshua Pineda of Thousand Oaks entered guilty pleas to selling firearms without a license, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. They say in 2015, he sold some rifles to an undercover officer in parking lots in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley, and agreed to get more.

The Channel Islands are known for their incredible and mostly unspoiled beauty.

To archaeologists around the world, they hold a very different significance, one that’s little-known even to many people in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

The oldest human remains found in North American were discovered on one of the islands.

With no forecasted significant rain ahead, Santa Barbara County officials have been told to consider declaring Cachuma Lake a disaster area.

The lake is 93% empty and close to a minimum pool area, which officials say is a point where water becomes unfit to drink.

(Centers for Disease Control Photo)

Ventura County Health officials are busy with a rash of new Zika and West Nile virus cases reported in the county.

The County is now confirming that it’s up to four confirmed Zika cases in the county, as well as one probable case. Health officials say all of the cases are among people who were recently traveled internationally. Zika can be transmitted by mosquitos, and well as by sexual contact between people. However, the type of mosquitoes which carry Zika haven’t been found in Ventura County.

Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a blaze which left one home seriously damaged, and a second with minor damage in Ventura County.

The fire was discovered just after six a.m. Tuesday on Nardo Street in Saticoy, just northeast of Ventura. Firefighters had their hands full when they arrived, finding a blaze which started in some pallets had spread to a nearby home. 

The College Promise Program, which pays tuition and books fees for some students for two years, will continue at Santa Barbara City College this semester.

To qualify for the program, the students must  be local highschool graduates who finished school within a year,  and they must attend college full-time.