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Bird Refuge Smell Finds its Way into Montecito Neighborhoods, Businesses and Even Some Cars

A smell from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge in Santa Barbara, something that doesn’t surprise local residents this time of year, has once again forced some people to ask about solutions to the on going annoying problem.

The water source is replenished and flushed out with fresh water runoff. During the drought, circulation at the 42 acre site at the waterfront has been limited. The summer heat, depth of the water and other factors, can create and algae bloom and with that comes a “rotten egg” smell. It’s very bad at the water’s edge and it’s annoying to drivers on the freeway. It can, at times, also be noticed up the canyons into Montecito, in some cases, more than a two miles away.

Last year the level was drastically down. Earlier this year with high tides and a storm surge an unusual reversal happened when ocean water rushed into the site to bring the level up.

Today possibly because of the smell, there were many parking spaces open in the area. Angelica Limon noticed while she was walking two dogs. “Sometimes there is a lot of parking, a lot of people a lot of kids that come for a walk. And today there is nothing.” she said.

The City of Santa Barbara, has over the years, tried different solutions including the use of a small power boat to stir up the water. Now, on a regular basis, smaller circulation devices are bubbling under the surface to get more oxygen into the water and lower the impact from the smell. Ron Sickafoose rides his bike through the area because it is a safe route. He says, “I think the bubblers seem to have done pretty good.”

One local business, the Montecito Athletic Club is nearby and some of those who work out regularly have changed their schedule to try to avoid the smell if possible.
Trainer Jane Frederick says, “a lot of people who know about it will just defer whatever workout they do, because it will go away in a couple of days. We just have fans on to keep the air pushed out and close up the doors.”

She says it is not uncommon for the smell to get into her car too.
“You know when I get home and go out to the garage to get something, I open the door and there it is!”

The City of Santa Barbara has a presentation about the Bird Refuge set for September 13. Solutions will be discussed along with their costs.

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