2023 Outstanding Community Business Award winner – Coastal View News

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The Carpinteria Community Association – organizers of this year’s CommunityAwards Banquet, scheduled for April 6 – has awarded our own Coastal View News the 2023 Outstanding Community Business Award.

Coastal View News is in its 30th year of publication; founded in 1994 by Rosemarie Fanucchi, Michael VanStry and Gary Dobbins, 5,500 copies of the Carpinteria-focused paper are distributed to businesses and newsstands each Thursday morning across South Santa Barbara County.

The paper’s small staff – publishers VanStry and Dobbins, with Managing Editor Evelyn Spence, Assistant Editor Jun Starkey, photographer Robin Karlsson, Sports Editor Ryan P. Cruz and advertising manager Karina Villarreal – continue each week to proudly put together a product brimming with the latest Carpinteria news.  

Content is also posted online at coastalview.com, which averaged over 18,000 page views a month over the past year. Under Spence, the newspaper launched an email newsletter, out every Monday and Wednesday, and revamped its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

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Association President Karen Graf told CVN that the group is happy to reintroduce the business award for the local, hometown event; community members moved away from the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, which had hosted the awards banquet during the last two years, launching the nonprofit association late last year.

“Our event is now our own, so we are crafting it differently,” Graf told CVN. “The Coastal View has been an incredible partner and supporter for every nonprofit in Carpinteria (…) we as the hosting organization unanimously felt strongly that the Coastal View deserved to be recognized because of their partnerships in the community.”

She added that the community has greatly appreciated Coastal View News, calling it “the brainchild of three amazing people.”

“We value what they started so much,” Graf added.

Dobbins, Fanucchi and VanStry came together in 1994 following the Carpinteria Herald’s closure after 85 years in publication. Fanucchi, the paper’s founding editor-in-chief and a former Herald columnist, retired in 2001; she passed away in 2006.

“I really feel blessed about what the community has done for the Coastal View,” Dobbins said, referring to an outpour of community support that came last fall when CVN was facing severe financial difficulties.

VanStry said CVN would not be published each week without the generous support of its advertisers and the community.

“Hundreds of freelance writers and photographers have contributed to the paper’s success over the years, and Gary and I have always been blessed with a dedicated and professional staff that goes above and beyond expectations to produce a product the entire community can be proud of,” he said, adding that it is a privilege to bring Carpinterians the news each week.

“Readers often tell us CVN is the glue that holds the community together. We’ve watched a generation grow up seeing their accomplishments in the paper, and now their kids are the stars in the pages of CVN every week.”

The free paper is funded solely through donations and advertising sales; the latter department is composed of Villarreal, who has been with CVN since 2019. She said she took the job after CVN’s then-Managing Editor Debra Herrick approached her at a Lions Club and The Howard School event.

“It’s honestly been such a blessing,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see the support of the community within the Coastal View News.”

“Through Covid, Mike supported all of us and continued to put the paper out, and we slashed the (advertising) prices and we really tried to support the community,” she added. “When you come to Carpinteria and you live in Carpinteria and you see the people around, there’s just this lovely energy about the community. It does have that small town feel when everything around you in California is so congested and busy.”

Karlsson – known well around Carpinteria – photographs nearly everything readers see in the paper. 

“Carpinteria has so many events and activities going on all the time, for such a small town. I feel fortunate that my job allows me to photograph people of the town enjoying life or standing up for what they believe,” Karlsson said. “I appreciate representing the CVN whether it’s ‘Elf on the Street’ or photographing Avofest from the Ferris wheel or walking in the rain documenting cute kids with umbrellas and witnessing Carp High graduation. I love this community and everything it has to offer!” 

Editing the paper and reporting on Carpinteria on a week-to-week basis are Spence and Starkey. Starkey joined CVN in September 2022, with a focus on the CUSD School Board. 

 Spence – who started with CVN as a freelance reporter covering the Carpinteria City Council before joining as an assistant editor in 2021 – stepped into the shoes of the CVN managing editors before her in August 2022. She said she would not be able to do what she does without the 30-year foundation built by VanStry, Fanucchi and Dobbins.

Beyond the paper’s news articles, calendar, letters and Halos & Pitchforks sections is CVN’s fully-packed sports section – typically nestled on pages 25–27 in a typical 28-pager – led by Cruz. Cruz, who took over for Alonzo Orozco in 2022 as the paper’s sports editor, said covering Carpinteria is a unique privilege.

“You can watch the community grow over time in the pages of CVN, and it’s been a joy to see the athletes as they progress from freshman year into young adulthood, and to watch how the families, coaches and teammates all support each other. In Carpinteria it’s clear that the Warrior spirit runs deep,” he said.


The Community Awards Banquet will take place at Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, 5315 Foothill Road, on Saturday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. During the banquet, Carpinterian of the Year, Jr. Carpinterian of the Year, Educators of the Year and Organization Merit awards will also be announced.

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