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    HomeCommunitySanta Barbara HistoryCounty Bowl Lease Snagged on EIR Requirement

    County Bowl Lease Snagged on EIR Requirement

    By Dorothy James, Daily Nexus, January 26, 1977

    The surprise announcement that an environmental impact report (EIR) will be required for the proposed County Bowl lease has drawn varying reactions from both homeowners and the County Bowl Association, currently tangled in controversy over noise levels at the bowl.

    The request for an EIR could delay a decision on the lease for possibly four months.

    The County Bowl Association, which leases the bowl from the county, is in its sixth year of a ten-year lease. The revised lease, now under consideration, would provide money for improvement on the bowl.

    Ray Fraker, manager of the bowl, explained, “Under the present lease the county gets the net profits — if there are any. Losses incurred are covered by the Old Spanish Days Fiesta.”

    “With the new lease, the bowl would be put into the profit picture. Presently, the county pays $15,000 a year to maintain the bowl.”

    Under the proposed lease, “improvements made on the bowl would be held by the county,” Fraker said. “The bowl association would not ask for a reimbursement on these improvements,” Fraker said that this could mean up to a $10,000 savings for local taxpayers.

    “I feel the board is going to approve the lease,” Fraker said. “Next time it goes to the board it will be passed.”

    Some citizens, however, feel that the required EIR may have an adverse effect on the proposed lease. Wayne Tustin, President of Citizens for a Quieter Santa Barbara (CQSB), a group opposing high noise levels, is pleased with the requirement for an EIR because it will give CQSB an opportunity to air their complaints. “We’re just tickled pink…about the EIR,” Tustin said.

    Many homeowners around the bowl feel that noise levels and parking problems occurring on concert days create a real nuisance. The Bowl Association set a 90-decibel sustaining level for concerts, with then percent of the bowl noise not to exceed 95 percent. The Association frequently attempts to reduce noise levels by monitoring decibel readings at concerts and refusing to book performers who may not keep their shows below the set levels. Fraker said because of the restrictions, the bowl cannot, in the future, book acts such as the Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac and Jefferson Starship.

    Some opponents of excessive county bowl noise contend that the decibel level readings are not an appropriate measure of noise levels during a concert. “Decibel measurements don’t provide meaningful statistics…they are not an appropriate measure of the intrusion the concerts cause when people are forced to keep their doors and windows closed during hot summer afternoons.”

    “Admittedly,” Tustin said, “it’s a very subjective matter.” He added, “90 decibels is the level at which you suffer hearing loss.”

    Fraker said that since last year many improvements have been made in bowl management. But now with “better management,” he feels that many of the bowl’s problems, such as inadequate parking and sanitary facilities, have been remedied. “We’re trying to keep a community atmosphere at the bowl,” he said.

    COUNTY BOWL CONTROVERSY – Approval of a new lease on the County Bowl facility may be delayed by a recent announcement that an Environmental Impact Report will be required. (Daily Nexus photo)
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