Letters to the Editor: Santa Ynez Valley is no place for hate

Two weeks ago, our local community was shaken by an act of hate – the theft and burning of pride flags from a house of worship and a local residence.

These hurtful acts have many victims – not only those directly affected, but also the entire LGBTQ+ community and our entire Santa Ynez Valley community. Together we join not only to condemn all acts of hate, but to say that our Santa Barbara County communities are welcoming and inclusive. It takes everyone to be who we are in the Santa Ynez Valley and in Santa Barbara County.

While any crime or vandalism damages the fabric of our community, expressions of hate threaten to tear it apart in fear. Flag burning and intimidating, hateful acts and language have no place in the Santa Ynez Valley or anywhere. Not here, not now, not ever. We condemn all anti-LGBTQ+ acts, all forms of bigotry, bullying and hate.

It is distressing that such an act would occur in our close-knit Santa Ynez Valley community, and particularly at a house of worship which promotes love, acceptance, service of the whole community, and espouses the values of loving our neighbors as ourselves and respecting the dignity of every human being.

While incredibly hurtful and damaging, this incident is an opportunity for learning and growth. Local school administrators and teachers, parents, and community leaders need to continue to build awareness of the oppression of and violence against the LGBTQ+ community worldwide and ensure that acts like this never happen here again.

Let us all learn that these acts have many victims and damage entire communities. Let us all learn to respect and love our neighbors regardless of difference in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, creed or economic status.

Let us use this opportunity to affirm that our Santa Ynez Valley and all Santa Barbara County communities are safe and inclusive, where all people are acknowledged as part of our social fabric, and threatening, intimidating actions like this are never acceptable.

We have come together today to say our community is moving to the future in confidence that all of our neighbors are safe, valued, and equal participants in a better world which begins now.

Joan Hartmann, 3rd District Supervisor, County of Santa Barbara

Source: Santa Maria Times

Community leaders in concurrence:

Mayor Holly Sierra, Mayor of Buellton

Mayor Charlie Uhrig, Mayor of Solvang

Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians


Kevin Walthers, President, Allan Hancock College

Andrew Schwab, Superintendent, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District

Michael Niehoff, Principal, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School

Kalyan Ali Balaven, Head of School, Dunn School, Los Olivos

Faith communities

Rabbi Deborah Lewis, Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community

Susie Margolis Pierson, President, Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community

The Rev. Chris Brown, Bethania Lutheran Church

The Rev. Randall Day, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church

Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People

Valerie Kissell, CEO

Adriana Reyes, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator, SYV Inclusion

Selene Sandoval, Director of Youth Programs & SYV Youth Coalition Director

The Santa Barbara Foundation

Jackie Carrera, President and CEO

The Fund for Santa Barbara

Marcos Vargas, Executive Director

Patricia Solorio, Associate Director

Pacific Pride Foundation

Kristin Flickinger, Executive Director

Santa Ynez Valley Pride Board of Directors

Matthew Cavalli

Golzar Meamar

Lauren Lastra

Alyce Barrick

Harry Mullin

Laura Newman

Adriana Reyes

Ken Sorenson

Dana Volk

Rainbow House

Matthew and Kiel Cavalli, Co-founders

Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara / Tri-Counties

Daniel Meisel, Regional Director

Ashley Myers, Assistant Regional Director