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HEAL THE OCEAN, ONE WAVE AT A TIME

November 30, 2023

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We all know that Santa Barbara County is known for its stunning coastline and pristine beaches, but did you ever consider what goes into maintaining the natural beauty and cleanliness of our coastal paradise? Enter Heal the Ocean (HTO), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the region's ocean environment.


A group of young volunteers posing with trash on the beach

The Important Work of Heal The Ocean

HTO focuses on wastewater infrastructure, ocean dumping practices, and other threats to ocean health. Despite being a small team, the organization has made a significant impact, not only in Santa Barbara County but also as a model for coastal communities nationwide.

There are numerous ways to get involved with Heal the Ocean. You can volunteer at their outreach events, which not only allows you to contribute to the cause but also earn community service hours. If you're part of a team or a group of like-minded individuals, consider hosting a beach cleanup to make a tangible impact on the local environment.

Wastewater Transformation: Turning Waste into Clean Water

One of HTO's primary initiatives is its "waste(d)water campaign." The organization is advocating for the transformation of wastewater supplies into clean and reliable recycled water in the Santa Barbara region. This forward-thinking approach not only addresses water scarcity issues but also reduces the environmental impact of traditional wastewater disposal. HTO's work in this area serves as a model for sustainable wastewater management in coastal communities across the country.

Cleaning Up Homeless Camps: A Necessity for Ocean Health

Heal the Ocean takes a holistic approach to its mission, which includes addressing the environmental challenges posed by abandoned homeless camps in sensitive areas such as creeks and watersheds, which all lead to the ocean. These camps often contain trash and human waste that can pose a significant threat to the offshore environment. By tackling this issue, HTO is not only helping the homeless population but also ensuring that our coastal ecosystems remain clean and healthy.

Mapping Its Progress with ArcGIS Mapping

To witness the tangible impact of HTO's efforts, you can click the link to the organization’s GIS maps, or download its Google Earth maps, which provide a visual representation of its initiatives to "heal the ocean" around Santa Barbara County and Montecito. These maps make it easy for anyone to track the group’s progress and understand the scope of its work.

Collage of images showing stages of the clean-up of a derelict boat

Influencing Policy and Protecting Groundwater

Heal the Ocean doesn't stop at community cleanup efforts. The organization has actively participated in the development of stormwater permits and initiated a USGS/City of Santa Barbara study of groundwater/ocean interaction. By advocating for increased street sweeping and enforcement to prevent illegal dumping into creeks and storm drains, the group contributes to lasting policy changes that protect our oceans.

Adapting to Climate Change: A Call for Immediate Action

One of the most pressing challenges facing coastal communities is sea-level rise, driven by climate change. Heal the Ocean emphasizes the need for immediate action to prepare for the consequences of rising sea levels. Santa Barbara's critical infrastructure, including flood-prone areas, will be impacted by this phenomenon. HTO's efforts to address this issue are crucial in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the region.

Septic System Removal: A Success Story

In the pursuit of a cleaner ocean, Heal the Ocean successfully spearheaded the removal of septic systems from Rincon Point. Working in collaboration with the Carpinteria Sanitary District on the South Coast Beach Community Septic-to-Sewer Project, HTO managed to eliminate 7 miles of coastal septic systems from the Ventura County Line to Summerland. This significant achievement removed the threat of septic pollution from beaches, creeks, and groundwater, making the coastline safer for all.

A Harbor Patrol vehicle and a piece of salvage equipment on the beach near a derelict boat.

Monitoring and Cleaning Toxic Groundwater

From its early days, Heal the Ocean has dedicated resources and funding to monitor and clean up toxic groundwater beneath the city of Santa Barbara. This ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship ensures that the region's groundwater remains free from pollutants that could harm both human health and ocean ecosystems.

Handling Derelict Boats: Protecting Coastal Beauty

During the fall and winter of 2022-2023, Heal the Ocean took on a critical role in addressing the problem of derelict boats adrift along the south Santa Barbara county coastline. This past year, over a dozen boats crashed onto the beaches, creating significant hazards. HTO's swift response and action to these crashes are a testament to its dedication to protecting the coastline and ensuring that its beauty remains unspoiled.


The next time you consider giving, remember Heal the Ocean and how you can be part of the solution to ensure the Santa Barbara coastline remains a pristine and welcoming paradise for generations to come. Inspiring? Yes. If you’re inspired to move to or within any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, please give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com.


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- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch