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This land is your land...

Bluffs Sunrise Ceremony Held Sunday, March 20, 2016

Julie moving around the circle of early morning risers for the Sunrise Ceremony in 2015.

Julie moving around the circle of early morning risers for the Sunrise Ceremony in 2015.

Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs held its eighteenth annual Sunrise Ceremony on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 7 AM at the Mishopshno Meadow of the Carpinteria Bluffs.

In partnership with Chumash descendant Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs has been holding this annual spring spiritual observance since 1999. Each year, Tumamait-Stenslie invites other members of the Chumash community as well as members of the general public to join her and the Citizens group in this annual gathering of celebration. She encourages participants to bring a poem, story, or song to share in the language of their ancestors.

New Development Proposals Threaten Remaining Bluffs Open Space

For all of us Bluffs lovers and supporters, it was time for us to rally once more regarding a recent development proposal for the Carpinteria Bluffs that came before a joint meeting of the Carpinteria City Council and Planning Commission with conceptual plans for the “Tee Time” and row crop portion of the Bluffs I BluffsIsiteplanproperty (the current open space between City Hall and the Nature Preserve). This proposed development included a standard hotel project with the usual hotel amenities along with a restaurant, live/work units, apartments, single family residences, town homes, and parking. There was minimal open space.

Despite the developer’s attempt to soften the hotel’s adverse impact with the promise of including a small organic farm, you can see from the site plan that this project was as dense as any of the past development proposed back in the eighties and nineties. If approved, this project would severely impact the quality of our Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve.

As reported in the Carpinteria Coastal View, Santa Barbara Independent, and other local media, several hundred Carpinterians turned out for the hearing at the City Council Chambers on September 21, 2015 and expressed their comments and thoughts about their vision for this property. Countless members of the public at the hearing expressed their opposition to the scale and nature of this project, citing these plans as greatly out of scale and alignment with the policies set forth in the City’s General Plan and Local Coastal Plan. At the close of public comment, the Planning Commission and City Council echoed these sentiments.

The Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs’ primary mission remains “to preserve forever the Carpinteria Bluffs as open space.” In that regards, I want to assure everyone that public acquisition of the remaining open space of the “Bluffs I” property remains the highest priority for Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs. If, somehow, we are unable eventually to purchase this Bluffs property for active and passive recreational open space for the community, we will do everything we can to ensure that whatever the City approves for that site will have the least impacts upon the Nature Preserve, the Harbor Seal Rookery, and the adjacent residential neighborhoods. In the meantime, the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and Viola Playing Fields will remain special places for all to use.

Carpe diem,

Ted Rhodes
President, Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs

The Bluffs as an Outdoor Classroom – Katie Roberts Bluffs Day: Oct. 27, 2015

The natural assets of the Carpinteria Bluffs make the Nature Preserve an amazing outdoor classroom that hundreds of students experience each year, from pre-school age on up to folks in their nineties taking Adult Education courses.

Each year, around 150 Carpinteria 3rd graders from Canalino, Main, and Aliso Schools as well as Carpinteria Family School take an “Earth Day” field trip to the Bluffs, organized and sponsored by Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs in partnership with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. Originally organized each year in late spring by Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs Board member Katie Roberts as part of Earth Day, this educational event now takes place in the fall and is named in memory of her.

This special day features a number of scientific activities for the students that include observing and painting nature with local, well known artists; learning more about harbor seals and sea lions; bird watching; and learning about plants and weeds of the Bluffs. In addition, the students often are asked to help plant additional native plants in areas of the Bluffs being restored.

Using this website, teachers and parents can learn more about the Flora & Fauna of the Carpinteria Bluffs or how to use the Bluffs on Earth Day and throughout the year for field trips as an incredible outdoor classroom.
(Click on “outdoor classroom” above to get to our special Field Trip page for teachers and parents.)

Venoco’s Paredon Project

Beginning in early 2010, Venoco attempted to bypass the City and all remaining public environmental review of their application to the City of Carpinteria for a permit to construct a 140 foot high drilling rig on its current onshore site not far from the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and the Viola Playing Fields. This oil and gas development project could have serious and signficant environmental impacts upon the Bluffs as well as, of course, upon the greater Carpinteria community. Posing as a so-called “people’s intiative” and using paid signature gatherers, Venoco was able to get their “Paredon Oil & Gas Development Initiative,” later renamed Measure J, on the June ballot in Carpinteria. Subsequently, the community mounted a huge grassroots campaign to defeat this measure. On June 8, 2010, voters of Carpinteria soundly defeated Measure J by a margin of 71% to 29% despite the fact that Venoco, the sole donor to the Yes on Measure J campaign, spent $800,000 in their efforts, outspending the grassroots opposition effort by a factor of almost 10 to 1.

For information on the recent community effort to fight Venoco’s Measure J, go to CitizensAgainstParedon.org.

Our Paredon Project Page will give you more information about Venoco’s earlier proposed Paredon Project, where the project was in the City’s planning “pipeline” before this flagrant Measure J attempt to bypass the public process occurred, and a legal challenge that was made to Venoco’s Measure J.

Anniversary Sunset Celebration

Artists, bird watchers and longtime Carpinteria Bluffs supporters gathered with current board members of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs on Sunday afternoon, October 25, 2009 to enjoy the Bluffs and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Bluffs fundraising efforts. Members of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County as well as representatives of the City also joined in the low key festivities.

Artists painting along the Artists Passage area of the Bluffs

Artists painting along the Artists Passage area of the Bluffs


Native planting work as part of the Sunday celebration

Arturo Tello, Joni Pascal & Ted Rhodes leading the gathering in a special Bluffs version of “This Land is Your Land.”

Sunrise at the Bluffs (Spring 2009)


Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs held its tenth annual Sunrise Ceremony on Sunday, March 22, 2009 at 7 AM at the Mishopshno Meadow of the Carpinteria Bluffs. Heavy early morning rain did not keep Local Chumash descendant Julie Tumamait-Stenslie from returning once again to lead our group’s annual informal spiritual observance to renew ourselves and to honor all those who have worked so hard (and continue to work) to save special places like the Carpinteria Bluffs and to make this a better world.

Winter Scenes


Snow dusts the mountains from a winter storm that also brings much needed rain to the Carpinteria Valley…


…and a rainbow…


…and a turbulent sky.

Bluffs Corner

Do you have a favorite photo you have taken of the Bluffs that you would like to share with us?
Do you have a favorite story about the Bluffs or about one of your visits to this special place?

Send us your photo (in low resolution) or your story, and we will post them on a “Bluffs Corner” page.

Planting Party

Photo at right: Another work party of community volunteers gathered at the Bluffs on February 3, 2007 to help the City plant close to two hundred natives near the Bailard parking area as well as put in, amidst the line of Tamarisks to the west, 7 Sycamore saplings propagated from cuttings made from Carpinteria’s historic Portola Sycamore.

Want to get involved in helping to restore the Bluffs’ native plant communities? If you are a high school student, this is a great way to earn community service hours.

You are invited to join us at one of our weeding parties, held the first Saturday of each month. We meet at the Bailard Ave parking lot at 1 p.m. Be sure to bring water, sun protection, gloves, and shovels and clippers (if you have them). For more information, please contact Andrea at (805) 684-8077 or by email at carp_parks@yahoo.com.

You can learn more about the Carpinteria Bluffs Management Plan and other on-going stewardship issues regarding this special coastal land by attending the regular meetings of the City of Carpinteria’s Bluffs Advisory Board, a volunteer board created to advise the City on all Bluffs-related matters. For meeting dates and times, please contact Matt Roberts, Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Carpinteria, (805) 684-5405, extension 449.

Photo at left: Max Engelsiepen, Anthony Tornello, and Andy Wills planting one of the Sycamore saplings propagated from cuttings made from Carpinteria’s historic Portola Sycamore.

Play Ball….

Spring soccer practice on the Viola Playing Fields,
the eastern portion of the Carpinteria Bluffs adjacent to
the Nature Preserve that is dedicated to active recreation.

Carpinteria’s U-12 Girls All-Star AYSO team practice.

The “Boys of Summer.”
Early evening softball
on the west diamond at the Viola Playing Fields.

The Carpinteria Bluffs constitute one of the largest remaining coastal open spaces along Santa Barbara County's south coast. 

Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs is grateful to all the individuals, private foundations and public agencies who helped purchase and preserve 52 acres of stunning natural coastal open space for future generations to enjoy. In addition to the 2900 donors who have made our public acquisition efforts possible, we are especially grateful to the generous support from the state Coastal Conservancy, the Wallis Foundation and the County of Santa Barbara's Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF). This CREF funding is a partial mitigation of impacts from the following offshore oil and gas projects: Point Arguello, Point Pedernales, Santa Ynez Unit, Gaviota Terminal, and Molino Gas.

The Bluffs offer a scenic panoramic view of the Carpinteria Valley and surrounding ocean and mountains. They overlook one of the only remaining California harbor seal rookeries. Thousands of visitors and residents alike enjoy taking a walk, biking or watching a sunset here.

In October 2000 we formally transferred the 52-acre property from the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County to the City of Carpinteria, where the land will remain preserved in perpetuity as a natural open space preserve with a small portion of the site devoted to active recreation.
Those wishing to contribute to our organization:
Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs
PO Box 700 - Carpinteria, CA 93014
May 25, 2002: We preserve the Bluffs and dedicate them to the City.
"Whatever you choose to do from this day forward, I encourage everyone here to stay involved, to keep dreaming, and to continue working to make this a better world... "
For the entire speech "Continuing the Dream" delivered by Ted Rhodes at the celebration and official marker unveiling at the Carpinteria Bluffs on May 25, 2002 CLICK HERE.
For the opening remarks delivered by Arturo Tello, Vice-President of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, CLICK HERE.