The best part of being away from Washington is being away from Washington. Here in Santa Barbara I learn of problems even the White House press corps wouldn't blame on Dick Cheney. There is movement afoot in northern Santa Barbara County to split off and form a new (Mission) county. Or at least to relocate major county offices to Santa Maria, which, ever since the Michael Jackson trial and a housing boom fueled by prices more affordable than Santa Barbara's highest in the nation, is feeling its oats and no longer wants to be seen as a country backwater.
Meanwhile, Santa Barbara proper's most pressing problem at the moment seems to be the unviting state of the sidewalk along West Beach from Stearns Wharf to the harbor. Tourists are said to find it uninviting. The city council has just passed a $2 million improvement plan. I don't think it will do any good. Already fifty years ago I knew that West Beach could never compete with East Beach. The former is not a swimming beach. It has no surf but looks out at a harbor entrance, a breakwater, a launch area, and boats docked inside the marina. The latter, by contrast, offers a real beach, waves, and full ocean view. A day at the harbor is no match for a day at the beach.
A cold snap has hit the city. Today the high may not even top 60 degrees F., though the sun is shining brightly and there's not a cloud in the cowboy winter sky.
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