santa barbara county

With a rise in the number of dog attacks in Santa Barbara County, there’s now an updated law intended to bring those numbers down.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services Director Jan Glick says the Board of Supervisors recently unanimously agreed to revise its Vicious Dog Ordinance, making it more restrictive.

Photo by First 5 Santa Barbara County

A campaign has recently launched in Santa Barbara County aimed at boosting early brain development and language skills for young children. 

Media spots are being used to promote the Talking Is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing campaign by First 5 Santa Barbara County. The local branch of First Five is taking the statewide campaign and rolling it out locally.

Photo by Santa Barbara County Fire Department

Two wildfires are continuing to burn on the Central Coast as hundreds of people evacuate.

The Whittier Fire, which is burning in the Santa Ynez Valley, has grown to 7,800 acres. It’s only 5% contained. Firefighters are especially concerned because it’s near hundreds of homes. Santa Barbara County Fire officials say some structures have been destroyed, but it’s not clear if any of those were homes. Mandatory evacuations were issued for homes as well as campgrounds. The brush fire broke out Saturday afternoon off of Highway 154, about 12 miles east of Solvang.

There are ways to make your home more energy efficient. You can learn all about it at a workshop this week on the Central Coast. 

Santa Barbara County has a program called emPower that focuses on helping single-family homeowners achieve energy efficiency. Ashley Watkins with emPower says there are a lot of things you can do.

Firefighters are trying to determine the cause of a brush fire which burned some 250 acres of land in eastern Santa Barbara County, at one point briefly threatening some homes.

The fire was discovered just after 3 p.m. Sunday near Perkins Road south of New Cuyama.

Santa Barbara County firefighters had to deal with strong wind which made the fire initially tough to stop. Two air tankers and a helicopter stopped the spread of the blaze in about two hours.

A new Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report says there are major problems with the radio system used by the County Sheriff’s Department, ones which could create public safety issues.

The report says there are a number of dead spots in both the North and South County, and a special trouble area is the Cuyama Valley.

A South Coast woman has been killed after authorities say her sister accidentally struck her with a car.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says 55-year-old Dora Perez was standing in her driveway on the 1300 block of Vallecito Place in Carpinteria around 7:15 Saturday morning when her 70-year-old sister was moving a nearby vehicle. Officials say the car suddenly sped out of control, hitting Perez and pinning her against the wall of the house.

Photo by Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

A law enforcement agency on the South Coast is mourning one of their own. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says they’ve lost a member their family.

Forty-one-year-old Custody Deputy Trevor Carpenter died on Wednesday after a fight with Leukemia. He had been with the Sheriff’s office since 2003. He was an avid photographer, supporter of the Boy Scouts and a huge Dodgers fan. He was also a family man. Carpenter leaves behind his wife of 19 years and four children.

Santa Barbara County has adopted a $1.08 billion dollar budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes some major service cuts.

The balanced budget includes a reduction of 178 full time positions, although a number of the jobs were unfilled. With social service costs exceeding available state and federal funding, those programs are among those facing the biggest cuts.

County officials say despite the social service reductions, the county is devoting a larger chunk of its discretionary spending to those programs.

Photo by Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara

A scholarship fund in Santa Barbara County that’s been helping teens go to college for more than a half century will reach a big milestone this week.

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara will surpass the $100 million mark in scholarships awarded to more than 47,000 students during its 55-year history.

Santa Barbara County is getting an early start on its budget process in the face of potentially major cuts which may be needed for the upcoming fiscal year.

County officials say they are looking at ways to reduce nearly $40 million dollars in spending to balance the new budget.

Many of the cuts could come in social services.

Reductions in projected state and federal funding, additional money needed for public safety operations, and high pension costs are among the factors being cited for the financial concerns.

A CHP officer is recovering from injuries he suffered in a traffic accident in Santa Barbara County.

The 42 year old officer was southbound on Highway 101 between Gaviota and Buellton just after 10 a.m. Tuesday, when he apparently lost control of his patrol car in the rain.

The patrol car slid off the highway, hit a tree, and spun around coming to rest against a second tree.

The officer was taken to a hospital with what are described as minor injuries.

A Santa Barbara County woman could face more than two decades in state prison after being convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from an elderly relative.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors say Allyson Maura Cowell was found guilty of more than 50 felony counts, including financial elder abuse, forgery, money laundering and grand theft. The prosecutors say Cowell repeatedly forged the name of an elderly relative so she could steal more than $640,000 from the victim’s investment account.

Cowell will be sentenced next month.

Santa Barbara County is now wrangling with a question that cities and counties around the state are facing, in the wake of voters approving the limited recreational use of marijuana.

County Supervisors are set to consider an urgency ordinance to prohibit marijuana cultivation and sales while the county comes up with a plan on how it wants to handle the implementation of Proposition 64.

Photo by United Way of Santa Barbara County

With tax season underway, some Santa Barbara County residents are getting help filing their returns.

Families and individuals who earned less than $62,000 last year qualify for free tax preparation. The United Way of Santa Barbara County runs this Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Authorities broke up a large, rowdy party of drunk college students on the South Coast this weekend that led to several arrests and citations.  

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said deputies along with University of California Police officers arrived to the scene of a party on the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista around 11:15 Friday night. They discovered an unruly crowd of several hundred intoxicated, college-aged people. Several were stopped and cited for alcohol violations.

Photo by National Weather Service

The strong storm system that’s drenching the Central and South Coasts on Sunday has led to messy roadways with toppled trees, mudslides, downed power lines and flooding. But it did not cause any major problems.

Heavy rain and high winds led to power poles toppling with wires on the ground at State Route 166 near Guadalupe and west of Santa Maria. The highway is shut down in both directions from Simas Street to Bonita School Road as workers fix the problem. As of 5 p.m, it was still closed.

Photo by Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

It’s now easier for residents living on the South and Central Coasts to help law enforcement agencies fight crime.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has introduced a new citizen online reporting website. The public can file incident reports – including lost property, identity theft and vandalism – 24 hours a day online.

"It allows deputies to focus on priority calls instead of filling out paperwork that the citizen can easily fill out themselves," Kelly Hoover with the Sheriff’s Office said. "It just frees them up to do more proactive police work."  

She added that residents should still call the sheriff’s office for any in-progress calls or 911 emergencies.

If you live in Santa Barbara County and you’re looking for some company this holiday season, consider inviting a furry four-legged friend to your home. 

You can become a foster parent to a shelter dog over Christmas weekend for the second annual “Santa’s Slumber Party.” Families are being matched with dogs at the Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc shelters.

“Another way to spend their holidays by caring about a dog that would have been spending a few days in a cage instead of a home,” Jeanne Saadi with Santa Barbara County Animal Services said.

A little bit of holiday cheer is happening at a library this weekend in Santa Barbara County. 

It’s the Holiday Festival of Trains at the Goleta Library, and it features the extensive model train collection of Santa Barbara resident Dave Halbeisen.

"Traditionally, from the 30s through the 50s, at Christmas time, department stores would put big layouts of trains. And everybody would come see them," he said. "For most kids, that was a big event. That's not being done anymore, so I thought I would do it."

Several homeless women on the South Coast are getting what they’ve been long waiting for…permanent housing.

Five Santa Barbara County women who have been living on the streets now have a place to call home. They’re moving into a six-bedroom house in downtown Santa Barbara.

“This is intended to be a place where they can live in a safe and stable environment,” Alice Gleghorn, director of the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness, said.

Her office collaborated with the Housing Authority of the city of Santa Barbara and the Mental Wellness Center to make this possible.

Photo by Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

A woman who died in a paragliding accident on Thanksgiving Day on the South Coast has been identified as a veteran hang gliding and paragliding instructor.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s officials said 56-year-old Marjorie “Marge” Variano of North Carolina, who used to live Santa Barbara, was paragliding with a large group of friends off Gibraltar Road on Thursday when she disappeared. One of the paragliders spotted a down paraglider about 1,500 feet below La Cumbre Peak at the bottom of the cliff in the Santa Barbara County foothills and called 911.

Santa Barbara County has filled a vacancy for a major county post.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hired Janette Pell as the new Director of General Services. Pell has worked in county government for nearly three decades, including most recently serving as the Department’s Assistant Director of General Services. Her career also includes stints with San Luis Obispo, and Kern Counties.

Pell fills the vacancy created by the promotion of Matt Pontes to Assistant County Executive Officer.

Santa Barbara County is looking at its first major update in more than a decade for requirements for establishing a new winery. County planners have held a number of community meetings to look at balancing efforts to establish new facilities with impacts like traffic, and noise with rural areas. The proposal includes a requirement that at least 51% of a proposed new winery’s wine production be from grapes grown on the property, or from Santa Barbara County. And, new wineries would have to be at least 10 acres in size to open an on-site tasting room.

One of the most significant local races on the Central and South Coasts being decided in tomorrow’s election is one which will play a key role in Santa Barbara County’s future.

With two county supervisors seen as liberal leaning, and two as generally conservative, whoever is elected as the county’s Third District supervisor will have a big say in the county’s direction.

Authorities aren’t saying much about a body discovered in the mountains north of Santa Barbara.

The body of a woman was found near East Camino Cielo Road and Arroyo Burro Road by someone passing by just before 10 a.m. Saturday. The name of the woman and the cause of death haven’t been released yet.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s detectives haven’t called it a homicide, and aren’t releasing any other details about what they say is an active investigation.

Would you like to get more of your electricity from solar power, or other renewable sources? A study is underway to see if Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties, as well as the cities in the region might want to pursue a program which might make it possible.

A second case of Zika virus has been discovered in Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Barbara County Health Department says a female who wasn’t pregnant contracted the virus, which can cause birth defects. County Health officials say both cases discovered so far are related to people who traveled to areas of the world where Zika is an issue.

Two suspects believed to be responsible for a large number of “window smash” car burglaries on the Central Coast have been busted.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s officials say deputies arrested 24-year-old Daniel Castro and 19-year-old Salvador Perez following a month-long investigation. Detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying a third suspect.

The Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff's Association says it's been told that a new schedule for deputies now calls for 12 hour shifts over four days.

In a normal pay period, that adds up to 96 hours over two weeks, including 16 hours of mandatory scheduled overtime.