Evacuations Prompt Chamber to Postpone Jan. 17 Awards Event

Because of Tuesday’s evacuation of likely mudslide areas in and around Montecito, the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region postponed its Jan. 17 annual regional awards ceremony.

Meanwhile, after voting in August to take action, the Santa Barbara City Council voted Jan. 15 to spend $84,000 to hire the Manhattan Beach-based economic consulting firm Kosmont & Associates to find a way to fix State Street’s empty store front woes.

Chamber Executive Vice President Stephanie Armstrong said, “After much consideration, we believe it is in the best interest to reschedule this Thursday’s Regional Business Awards Luncheon due to the evacuations occurring in Montecito.”

Heavy rain last year prompted boulders, logs and other debris to flow right down through areas such as Hot Springs Road to the ocean, crushing everything in their path. Twenty-three lives were lost and hundreds of houses and cars were damaged or destroyed.

Highway 101 was closed for almost two weeks in January 2018. Many South Coast events were canceled or postponed. 

“We will be announcing the date (of the awards event) in coming days,” said Armstrong, who has effectively taken up the chamber reins in the wake of the Dec. 31 resignation of Ken Oplinger, who led the organization for five years. No permanent successor has been named.

The chamber noted that “multiple hotels are offering special rates to those who have been affected by evacuation notices in Goleta, Montecito and Carpinteria.”  Click here to view the list. 

Armstrong asked chamber members for a bit of help. “It would be greatly appreciated if you could reach out to any guests you have invited,” she said. “We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Should you have any questions please feel free to reply to this email or call me on my direct line (805) 979-5013.”

The city council’s action to hire a “State Street czar” Tuesday was overshadowed by the evacuation news even though it comes after years of deciding what to do about State Street’s problems.

Now that the pop-up businesses filling some store fronts are gone after the holidays, it remains to be seen what 2019 will hold for the county’s most visible commercial corridor.

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