Crane Music Fest rocks out this week

Rather than endure another “rubber chicken and auction” fundraiser, this year the Crane Country Day School will host the first Crane Music Fest on May 1 as a benefit for the Library and Arts Center Expansion Campaign, said Mary Blair, who is co-chairwoman of the event.

This is no ordinary school talent show lineup. Headlining the event will be Jefferson Starship, 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of fame inductee Dave Mason, Fast Freddie of Spiro Jiro, Holly Palmer, Crosby and Bella Loggins, King Bee, Rustic Groove and many other well-known performers.

“The Crane fields are really this little Hamlet, just such an awesome place to go enjoy music,” said Blair. You can hang out with your friends and family, eat, drink get a henna tattoo. It will be sort of a cleaned up version of Woodstock … offering a caliber of music that really anybody in Santa Barbara would enjoy and listen to, she said.

Along with the music, the event — which runs from noon to 5 p.m. at Crane Country Day School, 1795 San Leandro Lane in Montecito — will feature a silent auction and a live auction hosted by Crane Dad Dennis Miller and including coveted prizes like a cabana at the Coral Casino, a week at La Quinta Resort and a shopping/gourmet getaway at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco. There will also be a village street fair packed with artisans and local food vendors.

Tickets are $100. Call Kara Petersen at 969.7732 for more information or to purchase tickets.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on April 29, 2004.

CALM Director offers tips to spot child abuse

“If someone is able to prevent a case of child abuse before it occurs, then a tragedy has been averted,” said Dr. Anna Kokotovic, Executive Director of CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation).

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and CALM, believes that active awareness and involvement by individuals in the community will dramatically decrease the number of cases of child abuse.

“It’s really about who gets there first,” said Kokotovic. “We are simply asking members of our community to please familiarize themselves with some of the basic information with respect to child abuse so they will recognize a potentially dangerous situation when it is happening.”

Child Abuse Warning signs from CALM

– When a child exhibits sudden changes in behavior or school performance. If he is nervous around adults or afraid of certain adults, reluctant to go home from school, very passive and withdrawn or very aggressive and disruptive, tired a lot, complains of nightmares or is fearful or anxious.

– If a child has unexplained burns, bruises, black eyes and other injuries, apparent fear of a parent or caretaker or faded bruises of healing injuries after missing school.

– When a child has difficulty walking or sitting or other indications of injury in the genital area, or sexual knowledge or behavior beyond what is normal for the child’s age or is running away from home.

– If a child is acting overly mature or immature for his age, has extreme changes in behavior, delays in physical or emotional development, attempted suicide or shows a lack of emotional attachment to the parent.

Although the month of April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, CALM urges the community to take an active role year-round, as awareness of child abuse and neglect needs to be a continuing commitment. For more information please call 965.2376, or visit

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on April 29, 2004.

Local woman brings rape into spotlight

*Rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in the U.S. *Most rapists are not strangers: someone the survivor knows commits 80% of all sexual assaults. False accusations account for only 2% of all reported sexual assaults.”

As astounding as the statistics about rape are, putting a real life face and voice to this tragedy is even more astounding. Here is one local woman’s story.

Lea is the single mother of three teenage sons. Up until about three years ago she managed a restaurant where she’d been employed for 20 years. “I had reported an assault nine months prior to the rape and was told that ‘cooks are hard to come by, let it go.’ They (her employers) denied the whole thing. … They turned everybody against me.”

It was heartbreaking, said Lea. “When people think about rape they only think about just that moment, but they don’t about all the other horrible things. I lost my job. A single mom supporting three children of my own and I lost my ability to be able to support them.”

Unlike many rape victims, Lea took her case to trial and won, only to find out that the perpetrator had skipped town and headed for Mexico.

When the trial ended, many of her friends lost patience, expecting her to be able to move on. “I think awareness is what’s most important,” said Lea, who now volunteers much of her time as an advocate at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. “It’s just so important to make people aware of the magnitude of what happens to people’s lives. Not just the people that the crime was committed against, but their family, their friends. It’s amazing how many people turned and walked away from me at that point in time. …. I found a whole new family that does understand. I don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t found the Rape Crisis Center.”

The most important thing about being an advocate for a rape survivor is to make them feel safe and supported, said Lea. “It takes a lot of heart and a heart that cares about another’s feelings. We don’t all have to be survivors to be an advocate. We have to be people that care. I’m so glad that people are out here and want to listen, because it’s so important. It’s a silent tragedy. That’s what rape is; it’s a silent tragedy.”

For more information about the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center call 963.6832 or visit There is also a 24-hour hotline number: 564.3696.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on April 22, 2004.

Quantum Restaurant & Lounge

For those of us who are addicted to appetizers, the new Quantum Restaurant & Lounge (201 West Carrillo St.) is an immediate hit. The brainchild of Mondial Catering chef/owner Cynthia Miranda, the concept is designed around shared dishes and building a meal around several small tastes, with a definite Asian influence in both the food and decor.

The portions – and prices — are relatively small but the menu isn’t. I went with a group of nine friends and still wasn’t able to try everything that sounded appealing.

Among our favorite appetizers were house fries with tomato jam (a must try at only $3.50) sweet shrimp and avocado salsa with chips and oysters three ways.

High point entrees (all in the $10 to $15 range), which we also shared, were the delicious Chile roasted sea bass, yummy halibut wrapped in a banana leaf and mini Kobe beef burgers with onion rings, which put White Castle to shame.

The wine list is impressive, with a number of bottles in the $30 range. They also offer wine and sake cocktails like a sour apple, watermelon and blood orange sparkler or sakitinis.

While some in my party preferred the banana crème brulee (flavors change every night), I believe a dessert without chocolate just isn’t worth the calories. Quantum’s mini chocolate and Carmel sundae (topped with mini m & m’s) was definitely worth the splurge.

There’s also a tasting menu for those willing to put their menu the hands of the chef. At $38 for four dishes and $48 for five, it’s a good way to try a lot of things if you don’t have eight other people in your party.

While one my friends said the small dishes made him feel like he was at a tea party, he was outnumbered by appetizer aficionados who can’t wait to return. This is a perfect place for celebrations as well as pre- or post-theatre nibbles. I’ll definitely be back.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on April 15, 2004.

Westside story on the Web

Neighborhood activist building Internet community

Using new technology to foster good, old-fashioned neighborliness, Harriet Marx recently launched, an interactive Web site designed to promote community involvement.

Westside neighbors began holding community cleanup days over the summer, and Marx came home from one with such a good feeling that she wanted to find a way to build on and sustain that sense of neighborhood togetherness.

“It was a hot day, and yet all these people came out, and they were so enthusiastic,” she said. “There was just a really good feeling there and so when I came home from that I was just kind of high from it actually. … It was about the sense of community, and I thought you know if they had something to sustain that on a continual basis.”

Marx had seen the Scripps Ranch community come together via the Internet after being devastated by fires and wanted to develop a similar kind of site for her own neighborhood. Coincidentally, her husband, Henry, was developing an interactive Web site for students at Brooks Institute, so he had the technical skills to bring her vision to life.

The site features announcements about neighborhood events, helpful links, free classified ads and online discussion forums about community concerns. The forums already include threads such as a property owner seeking input on how to develop the site at 517 W. Figueroa St. as well as a wish list of neighborhood improvements such as landscaping the entrance to Bohnett Park and putting a coffee shop somewhere on San Andreas Street.

The site is free and open to the public. Marx encourages her neighbors to come check it out.

“We hope that it encourages people to think about ways they can connect in a positive way with their neighbors and just do good stuff,” she said.

“We think this is the future … the ability to have people connect so easily, communicate so easily. I think this is a step in the right direction, using technology for an old-fashioned purpose.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on April 11, 2004.

The Doors of Opportunity are Just Down the Road

The doors of The Opportunity Shop (127 W. Canon Perdido) have opened windows of opportunity to budget-minded furniture buyers since 1929. While many locals are familiar with the store’s high-end used furniture, they may not be aware that the nonprofit Work Training Programs took over the shop in 2001 to expand its ability to train people in viable skills such as furniture re-upholstery, merchandising, refinishing and janitorial services.

Offering a wide selection of furniture for every room in the house, there often are some real treasures to be found at The Opportunity Shop. Buyer and Store Manager Mike Blaha said he tries to feature a variety of items. A recent visit to the showroom revealed a pleasingly eclectic mix, including a straight-out-of-High-Noon post office counter (which sold while I was there), an old Mexican door converted into a table, a roll top desk, a wood type-setting file cabinet and an abstract handmade Japanese rug, along with less exotic couches, dining room sets, chairs, bookcases, end tables and office furniture.

Blaha prescreens all of the items, which are a mixture of purchases, tax-deductible donations and consignments. “I go there, bid on it, clean it up, put it on the floor and clean it up when it’s sold,” he said. “We try to shoot for at least 10% donations and we’ve just recently started doing consignment. I’d say some of the larger, higher end things are consignment … it’s not worth the paperwork to do it for small items.”

Interior designers frequent the Opportunity Shop, said Matt Armor, a former Work Training Programs job coach and group home staffer who now oversees the store. “There are people coming in here all the time who’ve been walking in here since the 70s and 80s and they still come in just to do it. It’s part of their thing,” said Armor.

“There’s a guy who comes in looking for teak all the time,” said Blaha. Other collectors keep an eye out for Southwestern blankets, old oak pieces and 50s modern retro kitchen stuff. “Anything that’s excellent and cheap sells. Dressers sell really well but I’d say bookcases are always the number one thing,” he said.

The Opportunity Shop offers something for almost everybody and they get new items in daily. For more information call 962.7233.

About Work Training Programs

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Work Training Programs, which was established in Santa Barbara in 1964 to provide independent living and employment support services that enable individuals with disabilities or disadvantages to live and work as productive members of their community.

“It’s always been in my interest to have some self supporting aspects of Work Training Programs, things that we can rely on the community to support perhaps but to get out from under reliance on government support,” said CEO Cynthia Burton. “The idea of having a business that would provide work experience for our participants plus being kind of a self supporting entity” was what made The Opportunity Shop such an attractive venture to her. “It just seemed like a good fit for us … (with a) variety of skill building experiences that our participants could enjoy.”

Client Lori DeBoer is one such participant. She works three days a week at The Opportunity Shop, helping to clean the shop and refurbish furniture. “Mike (Blaha) is great to work for. He’s good. I like him,” said DeBoer, who is developmentally disabled. She checks in with her job developer on a regular basis and will let her know when she is ready to learn something else or move on to a full time position.

The job developers find jobs based on what people are interested in, said Burton. About 40 different local employers now work with the program, including Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Sansum Clinic, KEYT and Home Depot, in addition to The Opportunity Shop.

Headquartered at 315 W. Haley St., each year Work Training Programs serves 1,800 clients from Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on April 8, 2004.

City planners aim to define standards

Based on the philosophy that “we know what we like (or don’t like) when we see it,” Santa Barbara City Planners are reaching out to the community to help define standards for residential designs.

More than 100 people gathered recently — in the first of a series of neighborhood visual survey workshops — using nifty real time technology to evaluate pictures of houses based on whether they were suitable for Santa Barbara and if the size of the home was compatible with the size of the lot. Participants were also asked their views about the evaluation and notification processes for renovations of homes in their neighborhoods.

Favorite design features were not surprising, said City Planner Bettie Hennon. All of the top-rated homes featured large front yard setbacks with a lot of green space. Other popular architectural elements included front porches, “wedding caking” of second stories, garage door setbacks or tandem garages and varied rooflines and wall articulations.

The homes locals adamantly disliked were tall (three story), skinny houses without yards, typically seen in other beach communities along the coast.

There are over 23 communities in the state looking at similar regulations to control or guide single family homes, said Mark Broudeur, principal of RRM Design Group, the consulting firm hired to assist the city. He characterized this as a “super size generation,” noting that in 1950, the average size of a single-family home was 983 square feet, which jumped to 2,265 square feet in 2000.

The initial survey also found that 88% of people favored early notification of neighbors doing remodels. In addition, 73% said that remodels in the neighborhood increased the value of their property. More than half of the attendees (58%) said we should set maximum home size per lot size.

The ultimate goal of updating the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance (nicknamed “The Big House Ordinance”) is to restructure new single-family home and remodel regulations to reflect community preferences and expectations. Planning staff and the steering committee — comprised of representatives from City Council, the Planning Commission, the Architectural Board of Review, the Historic Landmarks Commission and the Allied Neighborhood Association — will make recommendations on topics like ABR review triggers, neighborhood compatibility definitions, neighbor project notification protocol and potential additional regulations related to floor to area ratios.

Smaller neighborhood workshops will be held to discuss more specific guidelines. Here is the schedule:

Upper East and Downtown: April 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the MacKenzie Park Meeting Room.

Eastside and Westside: April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Louise Lowry Davis Center.

Mesa: April 21 at 6:30 p.m. at SHIFCO, 418 Santa Fe Place.

Hillside Areas: April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the MacKenzie Park Meeting Room.

Northside and Hitchcock: May 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the MacKenzie Park Meeting Room.

For more information contact Heather Baker at 564.5470 or

Originally published in South Coast Beacon