Mike Wondoloski

Mike Wondoloski advises Carpinterians to “get outside and take advantage of our local treasures.

Diane and I moved to Carpinteria 20 years ago. When we moved in, we were in the garage assembling some shelves, and as neighbors drove by, almost every one of them slowed and waved to us. Each person walking a dog stopped to say,  “Hi.” I suppose that’s not very surprising, but it was something new for us. We really were in a small town!

As we move into the New Year, it occurs to me that the learnings and surprises we have had in our time here might provide some ideas for how we can all embrace the idea of “New Year, New You.” So, here is a list of “20 for 2020”:

Recognize the uniqueness of our small beach town

1) When we first moved here, I noticed long-time Carpinterians often gave local phone numbers as just four digits. I finally figured out that everyone in town had the same 684 prefix, so this shorthand was “obvious.”

2) I was at an event at a home near the train tracks when a noisy train went by. Long-time Carpinterians demonstrated their small-town neighborliness when they stopped what they were doing and waved at the passengers on the train. Now I make a point to wave when a passenger train goes by, and I love seeing the surprised and smiling faces in the train windows, and occasionally getting a friendly wave back.

3) I quickly learned that in Carpinteria, everyone is a neighbor. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself in line at the grocery store in front of a city council member, or behind the local priest. A while back, I ran into a planning commissioner and our city manager at different places on the Franklin Trail on the same day.

4) Grab an adult beverage at one of our local establishments, and ponder the fact there are more microbreweries in town than there are intersections with traffic lights.

5) Consider what else makes Carpinteria special to you.

Get outside and take advantage of our local treasures

6) At low tide, explore the vast array of life in the tide pools—in addition to the plentiful anemones and mussels, it is a special treat to find a Spanish shawl nudibranch or a small octopus.  

7) Take a walk on the beach, and remember if you see dolphins swimming offshore, your “responsibility” is to point to them to help others see them too.

8) Enjoy a winter sunset from the beach.

9) Visit the harbor seal rookery, especially this coming spring when there is sure to be a bounty of wildflowers on the bluffs, many harbor seals on the beach, and at least a few newborn pups.

10) Explore the publicly owned Carpinteria Bluffs.

11) Walk the path at the Salt Marsh Park reading the excellent interpretive signs along the way.

12) From the bridge over Franklin Creek at the salt marsh, look for rays or other fish swimming by, often with a great egret or blue heron standing quietly nearby.

13) Hike the Franklin Trail.

14) On the Franklin Trail look for evidence of wildlife—maybe you will be lucky enough to see a fresh bear pawprint!

Demonstrate ownership of the community

15) Look in Coastal View News for volunteer opportunities at the Salt Marsh Park, Santa Monica Creek or elsewhere.

16) When you go to the grocery store, take a reusable bag and enjoy the enormous reduction in plastic bag garbage blowing around.

17) Don’t smoke in a public place like a park or a sidewalk when other people are around. (It’s the law!)

18) Reflect on the fact that Carpinteria’s small beach town charm is not an accident, but the result of active involvement of a multitude of community members over many decades. Our town’s future is now our responsibility.

19) Keep track of happenings in Carpinteria city government, e.g. through social media, the city’s website, or the “City Hall News” published periodically in CVN.

20) Then most importantly, speak up! Let the city know your views on issues being considered.

It’s now 2020, so let’s get started on this list!

Mike Wondolowski is president of the Carpinteria Valley Association (CarpinteriaValleyAssociation.org), a local organization dedicated to maintaining the small beach town nature of our community. In his 30 years of involvement in planning issues, he has witnessed visionary successes, as well as decisions that were later widely regretted. When not stuck indoors, he can often be found enjoying Carpinteria’s treasures including kayaking and snorkeling along the coast, running or hiking on the bluffs or the Franklin Trail, or “vacationing” as a tent camper at the State Beach.

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