Santa Maria has gone intercontinental, and it has nothing to do with ballistic missiles or nascent trade wars.

This region’s strawberries apparently were a hit at this week’s grand opening of China’s first Costco warehouse store. In fact, the opening was such a success store officials had to shut it down five hours after the doors opened because the crowds were massive, and restive, fouling traffic for miles around the store in Shanghai.

OK, maybe it wasn’t just the Santa Maria Valley strawberries causing the chaos, but our fruit was there, and Chinese customers were snapping it up.

We have our own neighborhood Costco, so this sort of commerce is no big deal for us. But to folks in China it’s a dream come true. So much stuff to choose from — and it gives Americans a glimpse of how important U.S. commerce and our products are in foreign nations.

Roses to the geniuses who managed to get local strawberries into a new market, despite a simmering trade war between the governments of China and the United States.


We’ve made it a habit on these roses-and-raspberries Saturdays to give flowers to public safety officers who put their lives on the line almost every day, but still find time to focus some much-needed attention on the safety-first part of their jobs.

For example, the Santa Maria Police Department is earning roses for focusing on what may seem like minor traffic, biking and pedestrian violations, so officers can point out to offenders what they’re doing wrong, and how their actions could lead to serious injury or death.

Over the past several years, the department has pinpointed locations where pedestrian and bike collisions have occurred along with the infractions that led to those crashes. Extra officers will be on duty patrolling areas where such bike and pedestrian traffic and crashes occur.

Officers also will intervene when they see pedestrians cross a street illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Bicyclists will be stopped and cited when they don’t follow traffic laws.

A $385,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is paying for the operation.

Local police have investigated nearly 230 injury collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists over the past three years, with six of those resulting in fatalities. Roses to everyone who can make those numbers less daunting.


Members of the Lompoc City Council spent the better part of a half year arguing about a proposed sales tax, and finally did the right thing — let the voters decide.

All of which compels us to retract previous raspberries awarded to elected leaders who didn’t seem to fully grasp the concept of democracy. Roses for Lompoc’s elected decision makers who came to realize who the real decision makers truly are.

The vote to put the tax question to voters was unanimous, a departure from recent council votes on just about every agenda item requiring a vote.

This week’s council action was a change of direction for council members Jim Mosby, Victor Vega and Dirk Starbuck, all of whom had previously expressed reservations about the idea of using a tax increase to try to enhance the city’s dwindling revenue stream. Could this latest, 5-0 vote signal a change of attitude for Lompoc leaders? Only time will tell.

Here’s what we wrote last May, and nothing has happened to change our minds: The message from Lompoc’s budget struggles to elected officials everywhere is pretty straight-forward — when in doubt, let the voters decide.

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