The summer festival season kicks into full swing with the grandaddy of them all, Old Spanish Days Fiesta in Santa Barbara. This year’s Fiesta comes amid an unusually strong tourism season, thanks in part to a dramatic increase in overseas visitors. A rebounding Los Angeles economy and a boom in the Bay Area are bringing throngs of in-state visitors to State Street and its environs.
But amid Santa Barbara’s effort to portray itself as a family-friendly place to stay is what appears to be a surge in street crime. That surge may, as it does in Ventura County, reflect the prison “realignment” that dumped thousands of criminals on our streets.
Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten attributes at least some of the increase — particularly when it comes to property crimes — to the realignment blowback. Fiesta will be successful, but only through the city’s dramatic moves a year ago to beef up its police force.
As cities across the South Coast continue to recover economically, a good portion of the gains will have to be reinvested in increased law enforcement, crime prevention and public safety programs.