KCBX News

Monday through Friday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

The award-winning KCBX Newsroom works to bring you local stories that represent our Central Coast listeners and supporters.

KCBX News began covering stories in February, 2014. The first on-air newscast happened during All Things Considered on March 3, 2014. KCBX added local news content to Morning Edition in September, 2014.

In the years since, KCBX News has had local stories featured on NPR and The California Report.

Air quality alert for Santa Maria area

Mar 17, 2014

Air quality control officials in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties say strong winds are whipping up some unhealthy air over the Nipomo Mesa and Santa Maria areas.

Blowing sand and dust are the problem with the peak periods expected in the afternoon and evening. An Air Quality Watch is in effect through Wednesday morning for northern Santa Barbara County.

Hancock College up for $1 million prize

Mar 17, 2014
Allan Hancock College

  Santa Maria's Allan Hancock College is one of just seven community colleges in California that are up for a $1 million prize, and the only one selected on the Central Coast.

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is handed out every two years with a finalist list of 150 schools chosen nationwide. Hancock was picked as a finalist for its success with institutional performance, improvement and equity on student retention and completion measures.

Hancock also showed high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

Calif. DMV

The California Department of Motor Vehicles computer system is back online, after a brief statewide shut down on Friday. It was actually the second consecutive day an outage occurred.

The glitch affected Central Coast offices in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Lompoc, Goleta and Santa Barbara.

The DMV's Jessica Gonzalez says the cause of the computer problem isn't yet know, but she said future problems aren't anticipated.

Gonzalez says the department's online services were not affected by the outage.

San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office is asking for your help in locating a missing person, and Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward  for information leading to Gonzalez being located.

66 year old Rafael Chavez Gonzalez was last seen on October 22, 2013 on the Nipomo Mesa. The Sheriff's Department says transient was often seen in the Oceano area.

He is described as 5’9”, 140 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He is missing his left arm from a previous accident.

Arrests made during Vandenberg AFB peace rally

Mar 14, 2014
Brad Wormdal, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

A couple of arrests were made Friday afternoon at an international peace vigil being held at the entrance to Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Longtime Central Coast peace activist Dennis Apel and Salinas-based peace activist MacGreggor Eddy were the two people taken into custody by military police, according to event organizer Bruce Gagnon with the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

Pi Day celebrated on the Central Coast

Mar 14, 2014
Dr. Jonathan Shapiro, Cal Poly Math Club

What started out as a small annual tradition at San Francisco's Exploratorium in the late 1980s, has turned into a widely recognized and good-spirited national holiday celebrating the mathematical symbol for Pi. The symbol (π) represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is roughly 3.14—however the number has been successfully carried out to more than a trillion decimal places.

It's actually a national holiday, named as such by congress back in 2009. And, this year the date takes on special significance because Pi Day (3.14) falls within Pi Month.

A Santa Maria couple is facing felony child endangerment charges, accused of leaving their four-year-old daughter in a car while they gambled at the Chumash Casino.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department says the girl was left to sleep in the vehicle on Tuesday around noon, but woke up and began wondering around the parking lot.

The department says 28-year-old Petra Zaragoza and 23-year-old Bulmaro Reyes are being held at the Santa Barbara Jail. Child Welfare Services placed the girl into protective custody.

Work continues on entrance to Santa Barbara Harbor

Mar 11, 2014
Flickr member Damian Gadal

A major cruise ship will have to bypass Santa Barbara this week because sand is blocking the harbor entrance. The Sapphire Princess was scheduled to arrive Wednesday morning and send its tenders into the harbor full of tourists.

Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman says the sand is a result of the recent stormy weather and a longer-than-usual period without dredging.

Arroyo Grande Fire

Arroyo Grande Police are investigating whether texting is to blame for a roll-over accident Wednesday afternoon that injured a local teenager.

A witness says the car flipped several times after leaving the roadway near Arroyo Grande High School where the 17-year-old boy is a student.

Five Cities Fire Battalion Chief Riki Heath was driving on Fair Oaks Avenue when he came upon the scene, just moments after the crash happened.

Drought affects Cambria's approach to Amgen Tour

Mar 7, 2014
Randol White

The drought is playing a big role in how the village of Cambria will host the Amgen Tour of California stage 4 finish in May. 

At the start of this month, leaders in Cambria put into effect mandatory water restrictions to deal with a declared water shortage emergency. At a town informational meeting Thursday night with Amgen organizers, city officials, local business owners and citizens, local concerns—including the water issue—were addressed. 

An administrative law judge says the City of San Luis Obispo needs to reverse course and bring back binding arbitration for the city's police and firefighter unions.

Back in 2011, nearly 3-out-of-4 voters approved Measure B, which put an end to the arbitation practice. Voters also created the binding arbitration method back in 2000.

The judge says the city didn't follow proper procedure before putting the issue back on the ballot with Measure B. The City Council will meet in closed session this Monday to discuss options, including an appeal.

Egg-producing states pile on against California law

Mar 6, 2014
Randol White

A growing number of states are joining a recently filed lawsuit aimed at bringing down a California law regulating egg producers.

Representatives from Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Oklahoma signed onto a lawsuit today, that was filed last month in Fresno's Eastern District Court by Missouri's Attorney General, Chris Koster.

The major egg producing states are worried about a law set to take effect next year that would require out-of-state farmers provide enough room for chickens to stand up and spread their wings, if they're to sell their eggs in California.

How tobacco and alcohol are marketed to kids

Mar 5, 2014
Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community

The smoking of electronic cigarettes will soon be banned in many public areas throughout Santa Maria and Los Angeles after city council votes in both cities on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, health leaders in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties are trying to bring attention to the way e-cigarettes, tobacco, and alcohol products are marketed to children.

SLO Film Fest on the rise

Mar 5, 2014
San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival is now underway, with opening night ceremonies at the Fremont Theater.

You may spot television's Adam West in town, as he's in San Luis Obispo to talk about the new documentary Starring Adam West, focused on his life and career. West played television's Batman in the 1960s, and is the voice of the Mayor West on the Fox cartoon Family Guy.

Flickr member Dan'o

Central Coast Assemblyman Katcho   Achadjian says he is still working on the language for a bill to create a Paso Robles Water Management District.

Flickr: Lindsay Fox

The Santa Maria City Council voted 5-0 on Wednesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in some public places. The ban mirrors restrictions already in place for the use of tobacco products.

The council will conduct a second reading of the ordinance at its meeting on March 18, and it will go into effect 30 days later.

The unanimous vote came after comments from the public, as well as some personal notes from the council members themselves, according to city spokesperson Mark van de Kamp.

YouTube video still. User: Jennifer Weissmuller

More than two dozen dead sheep in northern San Luis Obispo County are at the center of an investigation by the sheriff's office.

The flock was grazing in the Heritage Ranch area near Lake Nacimiento as part of a program to keep grass in check for the summer fire season.

Hikers came upon several of the sick and dying animals and recorded video of the problem, then contacted authorities.

(note: video below may not be suitable for everyone)

SBC Fire Department Facebook

A pair of storm systems brought several inches of much-needed rain to the Central Coast over the past several days. The mid-winter punch provided some measurable relief to the region's exceptional drought status, yet much more is needed.

Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties saw the largest Central Coast rainfall totals, with some mountain areas receiving more than 14 inches of precipitation since Wednesday. Ojai topped the local cities with 6.21 inches recorded.

UCSB Police release sketch of rape suspects

Feb 28, 2014
UCSB Police

Police sketches are being circulated in the Santa Barbara area following the rape and beating of a 19-year-old UCSB student. Campus police connect these two men in their early 20s to last weekend's crime.

In a message sent to the campus community, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang addressed the sexual assault and vowed to strengthen security.

Yang authorized an increase of five campus officers, as well as the frequency of their patrols. Additionally, there will be increased security measures with installation of new lighting and cameras on campus.

City of King - KingCity.com

Updated: 2/28/2014 at 1:32 p.m.

A former Cuesta College criminal justice instructor has been named as the interim police chief in King City, following the arrests of the police department's acting chief and several officers on bribery and embezzlement charges

Dennis Hegwood was appointed by City Manager Michael Powers to run the police department while a national search is conducted for the department's next police chief.

Visitor numbers on the rise in Santa Barbara

Feb 24, 2014
Flickr member Damian Gadal

The amount of money spent at local lodging facilities in the City of Santa Barbara saw its largest increase in several years last month with a significant 23.8 percent bump. 

This year-over-year increase in visitor spending helped generate $991,834 in revenue for the city through its 12 percent Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), the vast majority of which goes into the general fund. A smaller portion of the TOT is set aside for creek restoration and water quality improvements.

Wikipedia user: Coolcaesar

Updated: Tuesday, 2/25 at 4:59 p.m. PST

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team is now part of the effort to look for evidence related to the rape and beating of a 19-year-old UCSB student.

After being treated Sunday at a Santa Barbara area hospital, the student went to recover with her family.

Significant rainstorm predicted for Central Coast

Feb 21, 2014
KCBX News

Updated Monday, 2/24 at 1:52 p.m. PST:

The month of February could end much the way it started, with some badly-needed rainfall for California and the Central Coast. Unlike the last couple of rain events however, this time around the region could get hit with a major winter storm.

KQED - cropped from original

  A Silicon Valley venture capitalist who believes California has become too large to manage received word Wednesday from Secretary of State Debra Bowen that he may begin circulating his voter petition to split up the state.

The proponent for the measure, Tim Draper, must collect signatures from eight percent of the state's registered voters by mid-July in order for his initiative to qualify for the November 2014 ballot. He launched his measure back in December.

NASA image shows drought's effect on Central Coast

Feb 19, 2014
NASA Image of the Day

A new image from NASA helps put into perspective one component of California's exceptionally dry winter—its effect on the vegetation found in state's grasslands, farms, and forests.

Using a series of images captured through the latter half of January, NASA came up with a composite map highlighting areas of vegetation growth. The image was created by using a specialized sprectroradiometer to compare current plant health to the average for the same period over the past decade.

DataQuick

Central Coast home prices shot up last month according to the latest report released by the number crunchers at San Diego-based DataQuick.

The San Luis Obispo County real estate market saw a strong year-over-year January with an increase in both the number of homes sold and the overall median sales price. A total of 261 properties were sold countywide during the first month of 2014, up 19.7 percent from the previous year. The median price of those homes also rose to $400,000, up 5.5 percent.

'Green Acres' star dies at Santa Barbara hospice

Feb 18, 2014

Actress Mary Grace Canfield, best known for her role as Ralph Monroe on the classic television sitcom Green Acres, died Saturday of lung cancer according to NPR and the Associated Press. Canfield was 89 years old.

Reports quoting her daughter, Montecito-based real estate agent Phoebe Alexiades, say Canfield died at a hospice located in Santa Barbara.

High surf hits Central Coast beaches

Feb 18, 2014
Greg Perry

Waves up to 11 feet are expected along the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County coastlines through Thursday night. The National Weather Service based in Oxnard has issued a high surf advisory for the west and northwest facing beaches along this stretch.

Randol White

February started with welcomed rainfall here on the Central Coast. The short-lived series of storms brought several inches of rain to some areas of California, yet much more is needed to help the state end its drought status.

The City of San Luis Obispo, while certainly feeling the effects of a record dry year, is in a relatively good position to handle the current situation. Water resources and systems put in place over the past decade or so are helping to push off mandatory rationing for the foreseeable future.

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