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I have been following the fire in Santa Barbara/Ventura counties that is wreaking so much destruction and I hope you and your families are keeping safe from all the ash in the air.

I offer a huge amount of gratitude and admiration to all the firefighters and fire personnel, public-safety responders, medical teams as well as the hundreds of volunteers involved.

As some readers might know, my husband Alfred and I moved out of the area a few weeks ago. If we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye please accept it now.

It is very strange to hear about a community that you have spent so many years involved in, and now read about from a distance. I read that change is growth, and if that is true I just took a giant leap forward in the personal-growth department.

Moving doesn’t stop the caring about your community, and I do care. Here are some of the issues coming in 2018. I hope the community will pay close attention, and hopefully, if you aren’t already involved, do so now.

Land use: The City Council wants to annex the Bailey Avenue property west of town. They naively believe you grow a community by building houses. More houses call for more services, like police and fire, water. Instead of adding more expenses to the community, they should focus on in-fill, job creation and deferred maintenance.

The city-owned property at the Wye is rich pickings to snake-oil salespeople. There have already been a couple attempts to acquire the land, and I believe there will be more.

I worked for a long time with our former Congressman Walter Capps to reacquire that land for the city, and I hope the council will not let it go. There are so many uses for the land that will benefit the whole community, and keep the restrictions we placed on it for open space or educational use.

District elections: Good idea, if new people run, but if it is more of the same, the community loses. I hope community groups start looking for people who care about Lompoc more than helping their friends. Who care about Lompoc more than the next big spender who dangles a few dollars in front of them with promises of nirvana. Who knows? Maybe that is you.

Motorsports park: This ill-conceived idea of a few people just has to end. You don’t put a race track next to your waterway. You have to wonder why they keep pushing this idea after the majority of the community, government agencies and legal experts say it just won’t work. Do they know something we don’t? But if they do continue to persue this we have our attorney on speed dial.

Those are just a few things on my mind. I guess you can take the activist out of the community, but you can’t take the community out of the activist.

Speaking of community, I miss all my family a lot. Southside, where you truly see the best mix of the community. Sissy’s where the soup and coconut creme pie is heavenly. And the walking trails at River Park and Mission, and most of all the wonderful people.

I wish you all a happy, peaceful holiday and a great New Year.

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Joyce Howerton is a former mayor of Lompoc.