Archive » December 21, 2006
Letters to the Editor
By MJ Staff
Because It’s Ty
Early in Susan Keller's lengthy defense of her role in the Montecito Association (montecitojournal.net/archive/12/28/598/), she asked the question "Why would I have personal bias? Why would I – or any other individual – devote hundreds of hours this past year on all the other work of the Association just to be able to carry out some kind of vendetta against Mr. Warner? "
My answer to this is "why indeed?", but it would appear that there are quite a few individuals in Montecito (although I'll bet not a majority) that envy Mr. Warner his wealth, are annoyed that he will not address them directly, and in general have argued against his every attempt to improve his privately owned property, to the extent that he will now sell the Miramar and leave us with an eyesore for who knows how long.
The “true believers” need no reason, nor do they generally deal in facts, but the "argument" I hear most often from the antis (after "because it's Ty"), is that he will spoil our beautiful town. That of course is a matter of opinion and the decisions should not be controlled by an unelected cabal, as they are now.
I don't single out Ms Keller for anything – I am not aware of her personal position on any issues. But as far as the Montecito Association goes, it clearly has and relishes its power over the planning process, in spite of its noble denials. If it walks like a duck, etc.
In a private, unscientific poll of complete strangers at the garden shop, grocery store, and drugstore, I found 9 of 10 people supportive of Mr. Warner and one opposed – the one opposed turned out to be an active spokesperson for land use planning.
Kinda makes ya go Hmmmm.
We needed democratically elected people running the planning process and making the decisions, not County-appointed Commissioners and an MA Board elected by a few hundred people.
(Publisher’s Note: The Montecito Association is a non-profit all-volunteer homeowners group that has every right to exist and function within the community. Ultimately, the Montecito Planning Commission (which is also made up of non-paid appointed volunteers) is the legislative body that adds conditions and regulations to the permit process. A group like the Voices of Montecito can and should put pressure on First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal to appoint a new planning commissioner that reflects the group’s opinions. – TLB)
Hotel Use Only
To Prospective Miramar Buyers: Please do not pay too much for the Miramar property (the County does not allow tax reassessment if you do). Hopefully you understand that this property is zoned for cottage-style hotel use only. Even though much more money could be made in single or multiple residential development, it is zoned for hotel use only. If you pay more, on the chance that you can get this property rezoned or overused, be assured you will lose. We here in Santa Barbara county do not believe in the “divine right to make money.” If you pay too much, make a bad business decision, gamble on being able to change the community’s plans and values, you should lose money. That’s what a “market economy” means.
Be sure you have your plans and financing in order. Hopefully your financiers are realistic about what can be loaned and earned from a hotel in this location. It is designated land and therefore has less value.
Don’t hire a PR firm to influence public policy and community decisions. In such a small community, manipulation is easy to see, and it’s easy to know when actions are self-serving. Compete fairly with other businesses and associations.
Our community plans and values are under assault by financial forces from without and by dissention within. But if you bet on this community, as wobbly as it is, you will have a wonderful business (plans are already drawn and approved). The community will honor you and all your guests for many generations to come.
(Publisher’s Note: Lets hope the Miramar situation is resolved soon. Aside from being an eyesore, an empty lot is dangerous. Although it is currently zoned for a cottage-style hotel (family-oriented) there are many people who would love to see that property built to accommodate low income families. Let’s protect ourselves by allowing a smooth streamlined process to get this thing built. – TLB)
City of Montecito
If Montecito wants local control, it should incorporate and become the City of Montecito. Yes, this will mean a vote and cost money. Taxes will increase; Montecito would have to create or contract with the County for police protection, fire and duplicate governmental functions. However, with these monetary inconveniences comes control of its destiny.
Right now, the County, ostensibly, has land use authority in Montecito but Montecito is selective in which control it will “accept.” The County Planning Commission exists to determine discretionary land use applications, write zoning and land use codes and all that jazz. Why does the Montecito Planning Commission supercede the County’s Planning Commission? Yes, one can appeal to the Board of Supervisors but why bother when the powerful few can “roadblock” for decades. What I really do not understand is why anyone wants the Miramar eyesore to continue. Does money really make you so very self-centered? There are so many generous people in Montecito so I do not want to paint everyone with the same brush. It’s time Montecito decided to conform to the wishes of the many or form their own kingdom.
(Publisher’s note: Thank you; I kind of like the idea of the “Kingdom of Montecito!” – TLB)
Protect the Association
I have attended many meetings dealing with Ty Warner’s projects and in my opinion characterizing Mr. Warner as victim of the big bully Montecito Association is a misrepresentation. For instance, the meeting concerning the beach stairs across from the Biltmore was conducted in a gentle and civilized manner with no acrimony toward Mr. Warner, but rather with a sincere concern that the public understands that the beach and the steps belong to us.
The role of the Montecito Association is of profound importance as it protects the community’s interests from being overpowered by one business empire.
(Publisher’s Note: The Biltmore property continues across the road and Mr. Warner owns up to the mean high tide line, which includes the stairs. He is responsible for maintaining them, not the County. So that “sincere concern that the public understands that the beach and steps belong to us” was the exact frustration the Warner people were having. The stairs do not belong to us, they belong to Ty Warner, but we are welcome to use them to access the beach. – TLB)
Be Wary What You Ask
Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.
In a trial, a Southern small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"
She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?" She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.”
The defense attorney almost died.
The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, “If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you both to the electric chair.”
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