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We're Leaving La Vigia Hill (Vic Trace)

After almost 50 years, we are being forced to leave our home on La Vigia Hill. We have been the guests of the City of Santa Barbara by a proclamation from the City Council in 1975. But things have changed. The adjacent Vic Trace reservoir will be buried and no access will be allowed once the work starts. As such, the City sent us a notice to vacate.

We had hoped that the City might assist in finding a new location for our station as they are moving their assets from the site as well. Unfortunately this has not been the case. Wherever they are moving to, there seems to be no place for us.

Our Response to the May 14th City Council Meeting

Here's the Latest Article from The Independent

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Photo: Joshua Haggmark, Water Resources Manager with Public Works asked the club to respect their need for eviction.

Isabella Leonard at the Santa Barbara Independent did a great article published on May 17 that covers the most recent developments.

Read the article here:

Santa Barbara City Council Meeting May 14, 2024

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Comments from City Staff and Comment from Warren KN6ZZI

Featured on KSBY Channel 6 News at 6pm

Levi K6LCM and Brian K6BPM talk to Juliet Lamar KSBY News

Featured on Noozhawk

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Levi Maaia, the radio club’s trustee and a member of the board of directors. - Rebecca Caraway / Noozhawk photo

The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club is in a race against the clock.

After nearly 50 years at the Vic Trace Reservoir on the Mesa, the radio club has to find a new home for its communications facility by July 30.

The facility is on city-owned land, and the Public Works Department informed the radio club in January that it is planning to build a replacement water-storage facility at the site.

“We knew that they were planning a redevelopment; we didn’t know that we weren’t part of the plan,” said Levi Maaia, the radio club’s trustee and a member of the board of directors.

“We just assumed that because this was a communication site with AT&T, with the county, city fire, police and the sheriff’s, that it would be forever, so we were shocked that it wasn’t going to be available after the redevelopment,” Maaia added…

Read the full article here:

Featured on KEYT Channel 3 News at 5pm

Levi K6LCM explains our predicament to John Palminteri from KEYT News

A Little History

The home of our flagship K6TZ 146.79 repeater can trace its roots to a ramshackle garden shed originally erected on the site. It was a constant challenge to keep things dry and somewhat secure, but the repeater stayed on the air and kept local amateur radio operators communicating.

As part of the local radio community we always did our part in keeping up the site, and even
cutting the weeds on many occasions over the years. We appreciated being there, and helped out in any way we could. We followed the rules and always did everything by the book, even getting a permit for a small 3' x 5' concrete slab.

As the club grew in sophistication, the advantages of having a real facility of some kind to house our repeaters and projects became apparent. Finally, after substantial funding was secured, we were able to realize that dream by installing a prefab built-to-order building in place of our decrepit garden shed.

The video below was a powerpoint presentation for one of our regular club meetings and chronicles the project.

Bill Talanian W1UUQ narrates our journey towards building a world class repeater installation.

Still in keeping with our sense of community, we even put a new roof on the City radio building on site as it was leaking and neglected for many years. We also installed new concrete walks, realigned the fence, and made other improvements to help others at the site. And, we paid the tab.
A few years ago, we dedicated the building to Bill Talanian W1UUQ as the Talanian Communications Facility (TCF). Bill has been the driving force for many decades and without his efforts, none of this would be possible.
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Community Benefits

Having our own facility was key in the development of numerous SBARC projects. With microwave dishes, we were able to link sites at Santa Ynez Peak and Santa Cruz Island. This was a monumental achievement for us as it enabled us to take advantage of other technologies that would ultimately enhance our public service offerings.

Among these technologies were AIS (automated ship tracking) that has been used by marine science researchers at UCSB and Scripps Institute in their studies of whale strike mitigation.

Our group of ADS-B aircraft tracking receivers and emergency beacon monitors have greatly assisted the local aviation community and emergency responders to aircraft related incidents.

The ability to monitor these and other things from multiple locations at a central site has been extremely valuable in enhancing our public service projects, and have allowed us to provide valuable and accurate information during critical emergencies.

We have been able to maintain a full compliment of 2-way radio capabilities - always ready to jump in with experienced operators in emergency situations. The La Vigia site not only houses conventional communications systems, it also is the center of operations for off-the-grid messaging and email services. One thing that drives us is being ready for events we hope will never happen.

While much of the need for secondary emergency communications has waned over the years, our repeaters and data gathering systems operated by experienced, federally licensed operators can often provide critical data not available elsewhere.

Going Forward

We have not yet found a new site for our building. So far we have been turned down everywhere where there might have been a possibility of resuming operations. Santa Barbara is a challenging environment for locating a radio site. Sites appropriate for radio communications are few, and most of them have no particular affinity for our mission. We hope that our reputation as knowledgable and responsible radio site operators will eventually present some opportunities.