Santa Barbara- S County

Beach area businesses staging comeback after mud flow impacts

Santa Claus Lane and Carpinteria look for relief

A-Frame Surf Shop in Carpinteria is one of the businesses that hopes for a rebound after the two recent disasters. (John Palminteri/

CARPINTERIA, Calif. - Many beach area businesses along Santa Claus Lane in the Carpinteria Valley are welcoming a comeback after the two recent disasters that hit in many places but where they are located.

The impacts though were direct, even though the Thomas Fire and the Montecito mud flow catastrophe did not land on the unique street.

Sam Holcombe with A-Frame Surf shop said everything came to a virtual stop when the freeway was closed for two weeks. "That two-week closure of the 101 was really tough," he said. "It was definitely one slam with a breather and then another slam." His limited employee staff struggled and the register went quiet.  

During the Thomas Fire, the falling ash and rusty skies made going out and going to the beach less appealing to the public even though the weather was not particularly bad for December. The air, however, was extremely unhealthy.

A freeway closure in January lasted for two weeks, except for local use. 

"It was kind of eerie to be in here and not hear cars on the freeway or have people coming in for a burger and checking out the surf shop," said Holcombe.

These days, the freeway is back open and the access points are not blocked. For the most part, the dry winter has made the beach a frequent stop for those out for a walk, and ocean swim, or to come into this landmark shopping area for a bite to eat and browse lifestyle stores.

The delayed Rincon Classic surf event was moved from January to February 24th. That should bring a spike in travelers back to the area.

In Carpinteria downtown, some residents buying lunch said they're trying to support the local businesses as much as possible, knowing that the disasters changed the normal flow pattern for locals and guests.  Some stores and restaurants either shut down or went to limited hours.    

The Beach Liquor/ Tacos to Go manager Eddie Ahaddad said he was fortunate. Customers were still looking for food and drinks and they stayed open not knowing who would be out. "It was the right thing to do," he said.

Ahaddad also says fire crews and law enforcement would stop in for food on their breaks and that kept the back of the store kitchen bustling, and employees on the clock. "The firefighters crews were coming down for our burritos, our famous breakfast burritos. And a lot of cops. So we were busy during that time."

"More people will have their personal situation taken care of," said Holcombe. "The beach will be cleaner and way more safe at that point."

The city of Carpinteria will have a small business recovery session Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce office on Eugenia Street.

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