Archive » October 12, 2006
Letters to the Editor
By Community Response
BRAINSTORMING THE MIRAMAR
I thought I'd throw in my idea of what I think should be made of the Miramar property, if I had the personal resources or if I were in a position to decide.
A center... a place, something along the lines of Asilomar in Monterey or the Aspen Institute, where people could be invited to participate in a series of conferences, institutes, or seminars on the many issues of the day. The site is perfect for sitting back and spending time discussing and interacting with some of the best minds in the world on issues facing all of us.
In some respects, many of our distinguished neighbors are people who have amazing experience in industry, government and the arts and are now appearing around the world as speakers, authors, etc., on these matters and they could help form the core of local resources guiding "The Santa Barbara World Institute."
I'm merely talking in concepts now; but there are specific examples all over the world doing the same thing. This center will also bring special recognition to our community as a place where discussion and creative thinking is part of the norm for us, even as we deal with our local and area issues.
I think the saddest thing for me is to see this incredible Miramar property used as “just another commercial development,” serving some very limited perceived local need. I think we can do much better, especially as we look ahead 50 or 100 years from now. Will future residents of Montecito say of the Miramar property, “I guess another hotel or housing development was the best they could come up with back then?” I hope Mr. Warner will look beyond today's thinking and give us the chance to build a center that could make a major difference to our future world.
On Measure K 2006
Cold Spring School Measure K 2006 is a $14.5-million tax on homeowners.
On November 7, homeowners, residents and Westmont students in the Cold Spring School District will be asked to approve measure K2006, a general obligation bond to fund various building projects at the Cold Spring Elementary School. If passed, homeowners will be required to pay to the tune of $15,000 over 25 years for each property with a value of $2 million in the Cold Spring School District.
This appears to be a measure slipped through by parents and teachers at one school, and the measure does not make clear the exact use of the funds. This is, in effect, a back-door method of raising our property taxes and subverting Prop 13.
This measure was put on the ballot without any rebuttal argument because it appears that the public was not sufficiently informed of what these special interest groups were doing. The only notice for rebuttal was publication in the Santa Barbara News-Press legal classified section on August 2 with an August 7 deadline to file a rebuttal. This procedure is a sham; any decision of this magnitude should be made in full sunlight and with political accountability.
Be aware that if this measure passes:
It will raise property taxes for 25 years; it will lower property values for 25 years, and it will be harder to sell your home for 25 years.
I urge all residents of Cold Spring School District to tell your neighbors and friends to vote NO on Measure K; your apathy will only embolden those who seek to subvert Prop 13 and encourage them to impose more taxation on homeowners for special interests.
School Board Choices
In the race for the Santa Barbara School Board, two candidates stand out: challenger Rosanne Crawford and incumbent Bob Noël.
Rosanne Crawford would be an excellent school board member. She is committed to a strong GATE and honors program in local junior highs and high schools, as is Bob Noël.
Rosanne Crawford and Bob Noël would work effectively together on the Santa Barbara School Board. Rosanne is a local business owner and Bob is a political scientist. They have the right blend of backgrounds, interests, and talents to make a positive difference for our students.
In order to ensure that the school board remains in the hands of the community, and not of special interests, it is vital that Bob Noël is reelected and Rosanne Crawford is elected to the school board. Bob Noël and Rosanne Crawford will be the best team for our schools.
Westmont Traffic Concerns
No one objects to Westmont as a school. No one objects to Westmont when it behaves as a good neighbor and abides by the rules of its residential community.
Westmont knows its history. Westmont acknowledges that it inserted itself into a pre-existing, already established residential neighborhood. At its inception, Westmont agreed that the requirements governing its neighbors would govern the school as well. Yet, the “new new Westmont” (www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/19/370/) featured on the Journal cover still insists upon uses and scale incompatible with the existing residential neighborhood. The landscaping of flat roofs may be attractive from the air, but aerial camouflage in no way mitigates the impact of traffic, noise, and congestion. Roof plantings do not disguise Westmont’s continued insistence on doubling its physical plant size from 375,000 square feet to 750,000 square feet. Nor can the roof gardens soundproof the anticipated 5-15 years of major construction and its concomitant disruption to this quiet community. It is, after all, the largest construction project ever undertaken in the entire history of Montecito.
Cold Spring Road is designated officially as an “unclassified road” whose maximum ADT (average daily trips) load is fewer than 5,000. When Westmont last requested a student body increase to 1,200, the school assured the community that it “would never exceed 1,800 ADTs. According to current official measurement, Westmont alone generated more than 3,500 ADTs on Cold Spring Road. (The rest of the neighborhood guests fewer than 1,300. Whatever became of the 1,800 guarantee?) And how will this narrow residential drive accommodate the crowds to fill Westmont’s grand new auditorium?
Which brings us to perhaps the most alarming feature of the “new new Westmont” – its 30,000-square-foot auditorium. Its abundant stage, commodious wings, and generously comfortable seating for 1,500, assure a capacity that can be easily expanded to 2,000. Yet, even at 1,500, Westmont’s new theater will seat as many as the Arlington and more than UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Does anyone really think that such a grand facility will be restricted to chapel services?
Westmont’s minuscule endowment, in contrast to its grandiose plans to double its 375,000 square footage under roof to 750,000, guarantees its desperate need to generate money. The only alternative to increasing the number of students is to fill the new auditorium with revenue-producing performances and conferences. If Montecito’s quiet little Cold Spring Community does not collapse under maxed-out ADTs or under 5-15 years of major construction disruption, it will surely succumb to the staggering traffic impacts of the auditorium’s public events.
Taxpaying Montecito citizens need to be reminded that Westmont is tax exempt and thus it is even more incumbent upon the school to honor the character of the community upon whose generosity it depends. Applicants for residential construction must have their plans evaluated on the basis of density compatibility with the neighborhood and the environmental impact. Why not, tax-exempt Westmont?
Then there is the matter of Cold Spring School, whose cost per student is estimated at $12,000 per year, a cost borne by taxpayers. During the 2005-06 school years, fifteen (15) children of Westmont employees were educated at Cold Spring School, their total cost of $180,000 born by the taxpayers. Westmont made the comparatively modest mitigation payment of some $15,000 to Cold Spring School, but the remaining $160,000 has been borne by the school district.
So, if Westmont is truly genuine in its pledges to bring under control its adverse impacts to the community, it must provide clean and realistic reins with which to control these impacts. And, this can be done!
Let’s give Westmont a very specific set of deed restrictions by which it can abide enabling us all to co-exist comfortably together. They should include maximum and measurable number of: students, faculty, employees (including contractors), average daily trips on Cold Spring Road, number, size, type, oversight – security and frequency of campus events – and clearly defined construction schedules and anticipated neighborhood impact.
Finally, it would be imprudent to grant Westmont any entitlements to future buildings before the outcome of Phase One construction is known. If impacts are kept low, the community will support future construction. If not, we will be glad we kept control!
(Publisher’s Note: None of us want Westmont to become another UCSB. Traffic impact will increase, but there are solutions during construction. Ty Warner, for example, bused people in so that the traffic impact was minimized while renovating the Biltmore; Westmont could do the same. But Westmont is not the only reason why traffic in Montecito has become such a problem. Labor in Montecito seems to have increased greatly over the past decade. There are more workers (construction help, maids, gardeners, landscapers, tree cutters, etc) roaming the Upper Village and causing congestion. If traffic is such a concern to the Montecito Association and the opponents of the Westmont expansion, they should perhaps look into limiting the number of workers one can have at one’s property in a given day. – TLB)
A Student’s Perspective On Westmont
In your “Local News” section last week, an article by Guillaume Doane (www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/20/371/) profiled the development of Cold Spring School and the ballot initiative (Measure K2006) which would close the loop on previous construction at the school, provide for the construction of new buildings, and allow the school to better serve its population. Dr. Bryan McCabe, principal, notes that “It’s not ‘build and they will come,’ . . . It’s ‘build it when they’re here or are coming.’”
That same edition saw the publication of numerous letters to the editor regarding the issue of expansion at Westmont College. Although the enrollment cap of 1,200 on campus students was reached in 1976, and has been honored by the college ever since, some Montecito residents seem intent on painting a negative picture of Westmont as a power-hungry institution that won’t be satisfied until it rivals UCSB: “To Westmont, this neighborhood is a place of business. The residential character of the neighborhood is being seriously compromised by this proposal for expansion,” said Chris Albertson. Really? As a student at Westmont, I consider myself extremely lucky to enjoy this beautiful setting, and have loved living here these last few years. I have not, however, noticed anything that could be called a “serious compromise” of Montecito. Were it not for the few signs directing visitors and first-year parents, one would have to scour the area simply to know that a college exists in these hills. A three-way stop sign has been placed at Cold Spring and Sycamore Canyon; however, that is hardly a significant inconvenience and is not unusual at a crossroads right next to an elementary school.
Westmont has historically kept its word about the cap on student body size, and now wants only to provide its existing students with facilities that match the rigorous and respected programs we have. Our science laboratories are lacking in equipment, our math building could fit into a 2-bedroom house, and our newest building on campus is 21 years old. We need to build not only to compete but also to survive as an academic institution.
I am, and remain, so glad for the privilege to live in an area as full of natural beauty as this is, and I would hate to think that future generations of students would have to miss out on an education here because our facilities and programs are not as up-to-date as they could be. We have been and remain committed to a small student body; the issue remains to be decided if the college will be able to provide for us the kind of education it is hoping to impart.
Senior at Westmont College
We Support Ty’s Projects
As residents of beautiful Santa Barbara, we wish to enter our support for the Ty Warner projects in general and specifically at the Butterfly Beach site. For the sake of safety and for the beautiful improvement that will result from the new steps, we happily and sincerely offer our support.
Please notify us of any news or updates to this project. Thank you.
Dale and Michael Nissenson
Questions of the Week Answered:
Additional Sheriff’s Deputies
The answer to the question of the week – “Would you be in favor of an additional property tax for more Sheriff deputies in Montecito?” – is a No, No, No!!! Property taxes are already out of line except for Prop 13, Thank God. I see no reason why we should have to pay for added coverage. They are already supposed to adequately protect us.
With regard to the question of the week (“Are you pleased with the new Westmont proposal?”), I believe it is very positive that Westmont has revised its proposed campus development plan to be more energy sustainable, and I fully support it. I might add that I supported their previous plan as in compliance with their original Master Plan and a positive benefit to Montecito.
I am curious about one question. Has anyone determined how many of the Westmont opponents purchased their homes after Westmont was operational and their 1970s Master Plan was approved by the County?
Submitted via www.montecitojournal.net
(Publisher’s Note: Maybe most Westmont expansion opponents moved here post-1970, but Westmont is doubling the square footage of its buildings and neighbors have every right to be concerned, no matter when they moved here – TLB)
Protecting Community Plans
Montecito residents may not be paying much attention to the proceedings following the Santa Ynez Community Plan, but they should. First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal believes that a government that functions outside of local and state jurisdiction should be allowed to grow and expand without the input of the local community. Specifically, Supervisor Carbajal, by voting against a policy in the Santa Ynez Community Plan demanding an enforceable tribal agreement before allowing additional tribal land into trust, is saying that the 154 members of the Santa Ynez Band should be allowed to further assert their “sovereign” rights over the local community and place more land into federal trust status to develop whatever they want.
For all of you folks who are not following this national crisis, Indian tribes all over the country, many of them fabricated by the BIA and clever attorneys reaping millions from tribal recognition, are partnering with MGM, Donald Trump, Harrah’s, Swift Trucking and many other non-tribal entities including off-shore enterprises, to buy land and place it into federal trust to remove it from local taxation and regulatory laws governing development. This ‘bypass’ of local regulations allows tribes to build casinos, expand their “sovereign” territories and reservations, expand tax-exempt private businesses, and use tribal “governments” to dominate the surrounding community. It is apparent that equal protection does not apply.
Billions of dollars of casino money is used to influence Congress, local politicians and affect public policy and local laws that affects each and every one of us. Remember Jack Abramoff involving members of Congress and $70 million associated with tribal interests?
It is easy for Santa Barbara to forget about what is happening to your neighbors just over the hill. The Santa Ynez Valley has been greatly impacted by the Chumash Casino. It is a $700,000 a day NET business that does not pay property tax, retail sales tax, TOTs and other taxes. The Chumash casino generates 20,000 visitors daily onto our roads and into our quiet community. Crime has increased by 2,400% since 1993 and traffic is a growing problem for the infrastructure of our Valley.
Recently, residents of the Santa Ynez Valley proposed a “No Fee to Trust Policy” to be placed into our local Community Plan, as the Santa Ynez Band privately own many acres in Santa Ynez and Buellton, and are attempting to assert more sovereign control by placing additional land into federal trust. They are one of the largest landowners in Santa Ynez, yet they were not addressed in the Community Plan. Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone modified it and brought it to the supervisors and fought hard for their vote, and your supervisor, Salud Carbajal, voted against it. It is shocking that Carbajal would refuse to be respectful and supportive of Supervisor Firestone, whose district is most affected by tribal expansion through annexation, and throw the legal burden of having to address each annexation as it comes down the pike onto the community’s back.
It is shocking that Supervisor Carbajal would be supportive of a situation that causes massive traffic through his district, and if this “reservation” is expanded could generate additional gaming in the Santa Ynez Valley.
In addition, his support of tribal expansion and separate rules for Indian “nations” could become even more relevant if the Coastal Band of Chumash get the federal recognition they are presently seeking. They own over 100 acres on the Gaviota Coast.
Wake up, Montecito, and think about a casino in Santa Barbara, or another one in the Santa Ynez Valley. If you don’t get vocal and let Supervisor Carbajal know what you think, you may lose your equal protection of the law, suffer the exponential increased crime from casinos and face a five-lane freeway running through your town.
(Publisher’s Note: The Chumash Casino does not have to go through local government agency to expand or change. For the most part, the citizens of Santa Ynez Valley cannot impose local regulations on their operations. By his vote, Salud is probably trying to maintain a good relationship between the surrounding communities and the Chumash Casino, but it’s way beyond that. The Chumash tribe is now one of the richest and most powerful forces in the Valley and should have to live by the rules the rest of us follow. Kathy is right; there should be no more tribal annexation. – J.B.)
Dog Rescuers, Thank You
This is a letter of many thanks for those who assisted us in getting our two Scotties returned home unharmed. On Thursday, September 14, after we left for work, our two Scotties were able to get out of the side yard thru a gate that was left open. I did not realize what had happened until returning home after 5 pm. I called all the appropriate numbers including some vet offices but given the time of day, all offices were closed. I left messages all around town. Then we began going through the neighborhood and down to Miramar Beach (favorite walking areas). Everyone we spoke with was very kind and sympathetic to our situation. Even making more calls for us. We thought we would never see Mary and Andrew again.
On Friday morning, the call came early from Michael at Animal Services. They had the dogs and they were safe and sound. A heartfelt thank you to Doug McCaskey, who spotted the dogs running along North Jameson and was able to corral them into his car. Not an easy task knowing how feisty Andrew can be. And, also to the Sheriff’s Deputy that assisted Mr. McCaskey with traffic control. We cannot thank you enough for your kind efforts. Thanks to Kathy at Care Animal Hospital, who saw my message left the night before and knew when Mr. McCaskey called that they were our furry housemates. And, to Michael and the staff at Animal Services: that was the best phone call I have had in a long time. Thank you to all who helped us that evening taking time to talk with us and look for them on your evening walks. Thank you, thank you! And, our apologies to any motorists driving in the hedgerow area that morning that may have been delayed due to our escape artists’ grand adventure. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
Susan and Winston Sullivan
(Publisher’s Note: As a dog owner, I can understand your relief. People going out of their way to help fellow residents illustrates what an exceptional community we live in. – TLB)
It's election time and again we're being bombarded with print, radio and television ads stating which candidates and propositions are being endorsed by whichever police, fireman's or prison guard's, etc., union. Unfortunately, it's like this nationwide. Yes, their endorsements seem to carry some sway – especially considering the constant bombardment of these messages that lots of money has purchased – however, has anybody ever thought of just what the underlying implication is? For the uninitiated, it appears that the U.S. should be some kind of police state! I don't know about you, but the regular purchase of politicians and props certainly worries me.
(Publisher’s Note: We are more worried now that both our local government and our local media are controlled by unions. Now that the Santa Barbara News-Press is unionized, I doubt they will ever print anything negative about local unions, which is a disservice to the public and something that should make us wary. – TLB)
Peace and Pacifism
In the last Montecito Journal, a few people wrote in again to the editors regarding the insanity of the war in Iraq. The editors answered that our adversaries, or as they call them “the al Qaeda types” quoting Dick Cheney, “are betting they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.” Then the editor had the audacity to ask: “what part of that statement could anyone possibly disagree with?”
Well, hell, I’d say all of it! First of all, the phrase “war on terror” is the most ignorant and unenlightened assemblage of three words ever strung together. Wars are always fought out of tremendous fear, hopelessness and profound desperation. And, of course, war itself is terror! It most brilliantly follows that terror cannot even be overcome by more terror.
Now, we can call ourselves a super power with the arrogant notion that we can dominate and control other countries not quite so bright as we are until kingdom come. We can call ourselves virtuous and our adversaries evil, yet that is an egregious denial of our great cruel capacity to drop bombs on endless thousands of innocents in Iraq, Japan, Vietnam, whenever we are at war.
We seem to have lost sight of another truth – in the phrase “brotherhood of men,” and OK, we say “what a saccharine, trite and meaningless statement, it has no practical application.” And we wonder what it has to do with peace or war.
All enemies are mirrors, whether we want to face up to that truth or not. We are not more virtuous! You know, there was one who said, “and you will know the Truth and it will set you free!” He could have added – “but the truth will actually piss you off, first.”
The way to peace in the new millennium is going to be through open, honest dialogue and sincere listening. You might call that “re-specting” our enemies – meaning a new way of seeing how alike we really are.
Publisher’s Note: You haven’t really answered the question of what part of the following sentence you could possibly disagree with: “the al Qaeda types” quoting Dick Cheney, “are betting they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.” As far as “re-specting” an enemy that willingly, joyfully, and specifically, targets and blows up women and children at close range, well, that’s asking way too much. – TLB)
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