SANTA BARBARA, CA – The Department of Public Works is wrapping up its citywide beautification project and locals are very pleased with the results. At completion, the daunting three-year effort will have successfully eradicated Santa Barbara’s last remaining vestiges of an unsightly natural order within the city limits. SB’s Manager of Public Works, William Kaiser IV, is eager to wrap the once-controversial effort, whose approval by public referendum made national headlines several years ago. “Nothing says ‘civic pride’ like 7,300 professional artists on their hands and knees applying pricey acrylic coloration to roadside scrub,” says Kaiser. “We flew these artisans in from all over the globe, and I think Santa Barbara’s spirit of diversity is evident in that approach.”
The project was not without controversy, and launched in 2014 under a withering barrage of negative editorializing from all corners, the domestic press ruthless in its criticism of a city government using discretionary funds on a project of this kind. “Santa Barbara:Vanity or Insanity?” shouted the New York Times in a typical above-the-fold envy fest. “Santa Barbara: The Bauble in the Bubble!” hollered the Atlanta Times-Constitution.
Santa Barbara’s civic leaders stood firm, finally shaming all naysayers with a beautiful demonstration of civic self-regard that has today cast a hush over the haters. As every single weedy twig jutting out of a sidewalk crack anywhere in the city received its individualized, carefully tailored makeover, skeptics soon became enamored of the effort, some journalists confessing admiration of Santa Barbara in their own interestingly regional argot of praise. Said reporter Carl Stroud of New Jersey’s The Hackensack Record—where it would seem bats are a symbol of plucky can-do individualism—”It’s absolutely batshit, is what it is.”