Archive » June 1, 2006
Letters to the Editor
By MJ Staff
(If you have something you think Montecito should know about, or wish to respond to something you read in the Journal, we want to hear from you. Please send all such correspondence to: Montecito Journal, Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 50015, Montecito, CA. 93150. You can also FAX such mail to: (805) 969-6654, or E-mail to Tim@montecitojournal.net)
www.montecitojournal.net has been a long time coming. It's neat, clean, and well designed. Thanks.
However, there is a problem.
My son and I exchange items of interest every day. Sometimes we can e-mail directly from the site. If we can't, we then copy and send.
I copied and successfully sent Tim's editorial. I also tried to copy the CAPS letter to the editor six times, always with the same result. The highlighting of the letter (for copying) always freezes before it is complete and the placard denoting a system failure appears and Internet Explorer collapses. Instruction follows "...to notify Microsoft."
The Journal is the only newspaper I read at age 77. I gave up on the trite press and network (TV) news a long time ago. I appreciate this new website and I will not need to cut out items to send to my son. Can you let me know if this is something you can fix?
Submitted via Internet
(Publisher’s Note: We have taken what you said into consideration and have made the according changes. You will now be able to press the link “send this article to a friend” at the bottom of the page. Also included will be a link to the author’s e-mail address so feedback can be sent to them directly. Thank you for your critique. ¬– TLB)
I Had to Learn English, They Should Too
I would sincerely like to add to the letters in the Montecito Journal (www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/10/8/) in regards to the immigration laws of The United States of America.
I have been a very proud American citizen since 1996 and I would like to tell you how I became one legally, obeying all the immigration laws of this country.
The very first requirement was a legally obtained green card, followed by the birth certificate from my birth country.
The police (if any), church, and family records from my birth country were also required. My photos and my fingerprints. A written test that included the breakdown of particular facets for the United States government.
One on one interview with an official from The Immigration & Naturalization Services. All this was conducted in English (my birth language is Finnish) And finally the official swearing in by a U.S. judge. These were the basic requirements. There were a few others.
I was so proud to vote in my new country the very first time, and I always will be.
If I had to do all these things and I very much wanted to become an American, so should everyone else.
To keep this country together and to know how it works and to be a part of it you have to learn to read, write, and speak the language.
(Publisher’s Note: My mother also had to go through a rigorous process to become a U.S. citizen. From what I remember, the test is considerably harder than any college exam I took while attending both University of Kansas and Montana State University. My guess would be that most American college graduates wouldn’t be able to complete the naturalization exam. – TLB)
Coral Casino Chronicle
The last Montecito Journal (www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/11/73/) printed two letters concerning Montecito's legendary Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club. One letter highlights the significant heavy-handed bureaucratic process that along with a minority of malcontent members who have "worked the system" have both combined to be responsible for construction delays and as a result latest renovation costs of some $65 million for the owner who seeks to improve his property! The contents of the other letter seems to lead one to believe that any dissident private club members can frustrate property improvements and dictate their own preferred architectural design to any legal owner! Today the Coral Casino is no longer immune to the outside world and I suspect that like all clubs that have no equity stakeholders, the membership is a privilege and not a right.
Let us now look back at some of the past. During the Depression a self-made millionaire property developer and hotelier, Robert Stewart Odell, who did things his own way, snapped up the Biltmore Hotel on the brink of receivership. Mr. Odell realized that the old Biltmore Beach Club was on its last legs and consequently instructed Gardner A. Dailey, to draw up plans for the new club that was built in 1937. The death of Odell in 1973 signaled a dramatic change for the club. In 1976, Marriott bought the Biltmore and the Coral Casino for $5.5 million and there was talk of replacing the club cabanas with hotel rooms. In 1987, Four Seasons bought the hotel and club for $55 million. This prestigious Canadian hotel chain was eager to bring the club into the '90s and launched a campaign for new members.
In May 2000, Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts purchased Four Seasons Biltmore and the adjacent Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club for a combined $150 million and in late 2000 the ARCO conference center for $9.7 million. Mr. Warner is a self-made tycoon – his company, Ty Inc., is based outside Chicago – and has embarked on an expensive series of renovations to his properties. Estate designer Bobby Webb has said "Warner is a great visionary and extraordinary positive force in Santa Barbara." The hotel (originally built in 1927) recently won its first AAA Five Diamond Award. In the philanthropic area, special Beanie Babies were created to benefit charities such as the American Red Cross after 9/11, the Diana, Princess of Wales Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Santa Barbara Navy League. The Ty Warner Sea Center is a local resource as well. Also remember that Warner was encouraged to buy the Miramar partly because he received many letters from the community asking him to save it. Warner purchased his first hotel, New York's Four Seasons, in 1999, and has gone on to acquire other prestige hotels in Hawaii and Mexico. It is hard to imagine that he has received the same problems there as he has encountered in his own Santa Barbara community!
It has been said that Odell was a perfectionist – an hotelier par excellence (he also owned the Clift Hotel in San Francisco); it would now seem the Biltmore Hotel at last has found the right owner who will continue that tradition. Along with his ownership of the San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito Country Club, and the Miramar Hotel, there is no reason to doubt the future will prove this to be so. The best birthday present Mr. Warner can receive on September 3, is to be allowed to spend his own self-made wealth the way has he sees fit without more undue outside interference.
Ty Warner: Not a True Santa Barbaran
Thank you, Mr. Hazard, for extolling the virtues of Ty Warner. While I agree with most of what you said, I can't help but wonder for whom he is making things better? Surely not the locals who have very limited access to the spa, nor the room rates at $800, nor the closure of the Marina room as Santa Barbara's finest dining? And how about the snail’s pace of the Plow and Angel and the Stone House restaurants? Three years ago we were told it was a mere kitchen fire and would be opened soon! I shudder to think how long Montecito Country Club will be shut down if work starts over there.
Mr. Warner certainly has the right to do things as he sees fit and fortunately he has an artistic eye. A little speed would make things seem like it might happen in this generation. While he keeps a low profile, it would certainly be wonderful if he reached into the community and committed himself to more of our non-profits. He would be a true Santa Barbaran then.
(Publisher’s Note: We agree that it would be better if Ty Warner showed his face more often; nevertheless it is his right to remain a ghost. As for making things better, couldn’t we agree that other local property values will increase due to the much-needed renovations that he’s undertaken? – TLB)
Spring has Arrived
Spring is a super sunny sunflower
Perfectly pretty on the porch
Rising red roses near the rapid river
Irises really interesting around the other flowers
Nearly never snows
Grass growing around the geraniums every gorgeous SPRING
Laguna Blanca second-grader
Jack Maxwell Returns Fire
In a prior MJ article (www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/11/83/) about my efforts to secure approval of three legal parcels from my 1.8-acre Summit Road property, there were many inaccuracies and a very derogatory remark about me. I elected to let it go without a response as the Montecito Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors voted not to approve my request and I did not want to cry foul or whine "sour grapes.” In the recent May 18 issue, another article had even more inaccuracies and another derogatory remark about my being perceived as "unnecessarily aggressive.” Let me state categorically that the derogatory remarks ascribed to me were untrue, without substance and attributable to no one person or persons. I was surprised that the publisher would allow the Montecito Journal to stoop to such gratuitous, salacious journalism.
Now, to set the record straight. The property in question includes one legal parcel of a half-acre (approximately) with a 7,200-square-foot house including a six-car garage and six antiquated quarter-acre (approximately) illegal lots. Technically speaking, and as required by state statute, the Montecito Planning Commission voted to approve the six illegal lots as six legal lots but added the "condition" that no one could develop any of the six lots unless they complied with the community plan's two-acre zoning, effectively limiting any further houses from being developed on the property. The board upheld the planning commission's "approval" and "condition."
My request of three parcels, after voluntary merger of the approved lots, would result in the existing Summit Road house being on a one-acre parcel and two High Road parcels averaging 20,000 square feet each. The size of all three parcels would have been far greater in size than what exists in my neighborhood. Interestingly, most of the neighbors opposing my request live on houses that are on less than 9,000 square foot lots.
In my immediate neighborhood there are 33 houses and no vacant lots. Twenty-four of the houses are on parcels of land between 9,000 square feet and 18,000 square feet, considerably smaller than what I requested. And there are no houses on land that complies with the two-acre zoning. My request was not unreasonable and would certainly not create a "high density housing" neighborhood as the opposition suggests.
Both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors had two alternative methods to evaluate my request and make their decision: one method was based on politics; the other based on the legal issues. In my opinion, they mistakenly succumbed to the pressure of politics by placing the two-acre minimum zoning condition on each lot. Had they approved my request, contrary to "popular" interpretation and as stated many times by County counsel, there would be no consequences to the Montecito Community Plan, as shouted by the opposition.
What I am I going to do? The jury is still out. In the meantime, I elected to list the house on its half-acre plus the two non-buildable but now legal quarter-acre parcels with Village Properties for $3.95 million, not an unreasonable amount given the size of the house and neighborhood comparables. The four remaining quarter-acre parcels, all fronting on High Road, are not included in the listing.
(Editor’s note: Since the Montecito Planning Commission last October deemed Mr. Maxwell’s lots undevelopable, I have written no fewer than five articles on this case. In each of my attempts, I gave Mr. Maxwell the opportunity to respond, leaving multiple messages on his answering machine. Unfortunately, each of my dispatches were left with the almost banal journalism disclaimer, “inquiries made by Journal staffers were unsuccessful.” For almost two years, at public meetings and in private discussions, Mr. Maxwell’s neighbors and his neighborhood protection group, the Montecito Association, have characterized his tactics as “unnecessarily aggressive” and un-neighborly. In the name of honest journalism, such sentiments cannot go unnoticed or unreported, and are certainly neither “salacious” nor “gratuitous” – GD)
America, the anxious, is embracing “An Inconvenient Truth,” the documentary on the perils of global warming that features Al Gore as scaremonger-in-chief who sees rising temperatures as an environmental apocalypse. The producer calls the film “by far, the most terrifying film you will ever see.” For Gore, it is an article of faith that the world is facing a planetary emergency, a climate crisis that is without precedent in all of human history. Gore tells us that we have just 10 years to clean up our act before the Earth’s climate falls into a tailspin of epic destruction.
This disaster movie is sure to set off a new tsunami of Bush bashing. Vanity Fair warns that global warming is a “threat graver than terrorism.” Bill Maher blames global warming on President Bush and his treasonable “corporate goons” at the White House who protect “big oil,” the greedy ones responsible for fossil fuels and the destruction of mankind.
A University of Leeds scientist in the U.K. in 2004 got worldwide press coverage when he and his colleagues predicted that a quarter of the planet’s plants and animals may be extinct by 2050 because of rising temperatures. In April 2006, (I’m not making this up) two geophysics professors at the University of Chicago warned those who eat red meat that their increased flatulence contributes to greenhouse gasses. Now that’s breaking new wind!
When Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Gore pounced, claiming that Hurricane Katrina was the fulfillment of all his prophesies. No matter that most scientists agree there is no scientific evidence linking rising global temperatures to an increase in the frequency or intensity of hurricanes.
A ‘Catastrophic Threat?’
Scientists agree that global warming is real. The world has gotten warmer by one degree in the past century. The last five years have been unusually warm. What they don’t agree on is how much of the warmth is man-made? In April, scientists at Duke University noted that global warming may not be as dramatic as previously predicted, based on computer simulations, core samples, and evidence from tree rings from the past 100 years. Duke scientists have suggested that variations in solar radiation from sunspot activity rather than carbon dioxide gas may be causing much of global warming. Volcanic eruptions, which can temporarily cool the climate, and ocean currents like El Nino, can also change weather patterns. They noted that human-linked greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming, but that contribution is not as strong as once was thought.
In the 1970s, we were told the biggest threat to the planet was “global cooling.” In 1973, Science Digest reported that “the world’s climatologists all agreed” that we must “prepare for the next ice age.” In 1974, the Christian Science Monitor reported that “glaciers have begun to advance’ and “the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool.” In 1975, The New York Times reported “many signs” that “Earth may be heading for another ice age.” Newsweek in 1975 noted that meteorologists “are almost unanimous” that catastrophic famine and mass starvation could result from global cooling.
The Earth has always experienced global cooling or warming for natural reasons. Climate is a vast, complex, and poorly understood system. Computer modeling is primitive and untested. Our planet is 4.5 billion years old. We have had four Ice Ages. It is only in the last 10,000 years (after the last Ice Age ended) that our ancestors crawled out of caves, invented the wheel and the alphabet, and started building fires and then cities.
In the last 1,000 years, mile-thick sheets of ice have come and gone in North America. From 1000 AD to 1400 we had a medieval warming period where the Vikings farmed Greenland. From 1400 to 1900 we had global cooling, which peaked in the 1600s when the River Thames froze solid. Generally speaking, the Northern Hemisphere has been warming since 1900. Most warming occurred between 1900 and 1940, when there was less greenhouse gas. Then there was cooling between 1940 and 1975, followed by another warming.
How’s the U.S. Doing?
The U.S. has a much better record than any other industrialized nation in the world in curbing greenhouse emissions. We spend more than the rest of the world combined in developing cleaner fuels, alternative energy sources, and climate research. Yes, we did not sign the Kyoto Treaty after it was rejected 0 to 95 by the Senate, but we enjoyed a modest decline in greenhouse emissions of 0.8% between 2000 and 2002. Since 1970, carbon monoxide emissions in the U.S. are down 55%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Lead emissions are down 98%, according to the Pacific Research Institute. We have invested in cleaner technology because we have the investment capital that comes with stronger economic growth.
Of the European nations that did sign the Kyoto Treaty, 13 out of 15 are missing their emission targets. Denmark, which promised to cut emissions by 21%, has instead increased emissions by 6.3%. Spain is off target by 33%. The EU Environmental Commissioner from Greece lauded Europe’s continuing leadership in greenhouse gas emissions. Greece has had a rise in emissions of 23%.
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada, a key sponsor of Kyoto, claimed that America lacks a “global conscience.” For the record, Canada has had an increase in emissions of 24% since 1990, the base year of Kyoto. In May 2006, Canada slashed future funding for programs designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, saying the Kyoto targets are unreasonable and the threat may not be there.
Developing nations like China and India don’t face emission quotas under the Kyoto Treaty. China is planning 844 new coal-fired plants and India will add an additional 179. These will spew a billion new tons a year of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, double the amount Kyoto would save if all the industrialized nations of the world met their targets. Are China and India’s CO2 emissions less harmful than ours? Should we cripple our economy so that they can catch up?
What Should We Do?
In the end, we are left with the questions: Is climate change caused primarily by human activity and would it yield to human action? Should a nation that can’t predict weather two weeks in advance push the panic button, shut down our factories, and force our people to stop driving? Should we spend untold trillions to control a climate change process that we don’t understand? Al Gore says, yes. What say you?
Da Vinci Code Damnation
Save your money…It’s the worst film I have ever seen…Directed by devil…To send you to hell by way of boredom and confusion.
Angry Movie Go-er Submitted via Internet
(Publisher’s Note: I second that motion. The movie was pathetically predictable and did little to stimulate or provoke intelligent conversation. I did discover a few crucial errors that, if changed, could have made the movie believable. If Tom Hanks was replaced by Jeff Goldblum in order to create a more “investigative” atmosphere and if the filmmakers replaced Mary Magdalene with Muhammad to add some provocative humor. But most importantly, I will try to devote the rest of my life to designing a time machine so I can go back in time to warn my previous self not to see this movie. – TLB)
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