Dear Pacifica Community,
On Saturday evening we learned that evacuation orders for Summerland and Carpinteria were being lifted, in addition to the opening of some roads and continued closure of others, as well as some alternate routes and methods of transportation. The Ladera campus, however, still remains in the mandatory evacuation zone because of road conditions there, so we must wait to reopen that campus. Throughout this time we have carefully monitored and adhered to the frequently changing County of Santa Barbara warnings, as safety for faculty, staff, and students is our number one priority.
The Lambert campus will fully reopen this coming Tuesday for staff and faculty, after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. During this time we may draw support from his reflections such as: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Students will be able to use the Lambert campus starting Wednesday, January 17th. Access to and from Lambert is now restored from the south, including from Los Angeles through to Carpinteria; internet services have also been restored throughout the area. From the north it is possible to get to Lambert by train from Santa Barbara, though it is crowded; by ferry from Santa Barbara to Ventura, and by driving—you need to use US 5, drive below the Santa Barbara region to highway 126 and back over to 101 where you can gain access through the southern route in. This is a fluid situation as repair crews are working day and night and more access may open up this week. Students, be sure to be in contact with your Program Administrator if you need any assistance.
While the power, electricity and gas, are fine at Lambert, the water is not yet suitable for drinking—the water in Carpinteria remains fine and potable, but not in Montecito, which is where Lambert’s water supply comes from. Running water is available but only for showering and bathroom purposes; it should not be used to drink, to brush teeth, to clean or prepare food. Signs will be posted to this effect and ample supplies of bottled water will be available throughout the campus. Our food and beverage will continue to be prepared by our catering service (Omni), but now off campus in an area with safe water.
The Thomas Wildfire was the largest in the history of California and the resulting mudslides are unprecedented in Santa Barbara. During this time of crisis we have developed a number of contingency plans that protect the continued integrity of our programs. We have been in regular contact with the Department Of Education and WASC to ensure that these plans are in accord with applicable regulations so that all coursework and degrees are fully validated. We have also been working with the DOE to likewise ensure that Financial Aid remains intact for all students who use it—this has required a few new procedures that are working well.
Our home region also meets the DOE and other governmental criteria for a disaster area. All of our contingencies and any variations from policy are tailored exclusively for this situation - hopefully a “One Time Only” situation that will end when both campuses have reopened. Such plans include the use of electronic communications, including Zoom sessions, and moving locations for housing, especially for those staying at Ladera, as well as the physical location of some classrooms.
We do regret and take very seriously the unavoidable missed time for several of our tracks; including one track that had to be rescheduled twice, due to the fire and the mudslides. This is something that had never before happened in the 42 year history of Pacifica; certainly an archetypal moment. We are therefore developing additional plans to make certain that the curricula for all programs we have offered will be adequately delivered.
Our success to date since the Thomas Fire approached us on December 6 would not have been possible without incredible teamwork by numerous Pacifica departments and faculty - people who are experiencing their own personal difficulties in dealing with the impacts from the fire, evacuations, road closures, and communication disruption. I am both proud and grateful for their dedication and service.
The Executive Emergency Response Team is continuing to hold daily special session and I will send you additional reports about the actions that will enable full restoration of all Pacifica activities as soon as possible. Until then,
Joe Joe Cambray, Ph.D.
President/CEO, Pacifica Graduate Institute
For more information on the situation in Santa Barbara County, please see: