Making Better (Land) Use of an Asset

There seems to be some confusion about the current status of the Montecito Association Land Use Committee. In spite of some misinformation, the Montecito Association Land Use Committee is still very much in business. However, it has been re organized into a more “User Friendly” and streamlined format that is more efficient and less burdensome for both applicants and the Association.

First, a little history. The land use review function of the Montecito Association has been around for more than 50 years. During that time it has provided a community forum for the early review and discussion of land use issues and proposals in Montecito. Until the creation of the Montecito Board of Architectural Review and the Montecito Planning Commission in 2003, planning decisions affecting Montecito were made by a County Board of Architectural Review and Planning Commission that represented the entire county. With the advent of the Montecito Board of Architectural Review and Planning Commission, planning decisions have better reflected the goals of the community. However, there is still a need for early review of projects that can help guide the applicant, save time and money and allow for public input before more formal plans are produced and ready for presentation to the appropriate hearing bodies. This is the role of the Montecito Association Land Use Committee.

So, what has changed and why? In the past, applicants were asked to appear before the Land Use Committee to explain the proposal and get input. The committee would forward its recommendations to the larger Board of Directors, whose members would conduct an additional public discussion of the project before forwarding comments to the Montecito Planning Commission.

In an effort to be more efficient and make the process less burdensome for interested members of the public and applicants and their representatives, the Association has re-structured the Land Use Committee into a steering committee. The Land Use Steering Committee now consists of five board members, rather than the 13 who served the committee in the past. Working in this smaller “pod” format, the committee can easily travel off site to visit projects and meet with applicants and interested community members. After reviewing the project, the committee, using the guidelines listed below, will make a recommendation to the Board of Directors and, if necessary, the applicants will be invited to present their project. It is our intent to notify our members and the public when significant projects will be presented.

We reference the Montecito Community Plan to provide the guiding principles for making our recommendations and our goal of “Preservation, Protection and Enhancement of the semi-rural residential character of Montecito.” The committee intends to focus on projects that raise issues of interest and importance to the broader community.

As a result, the following criteria will be applied to projects being reviewed:

1. Does the project have the potential to be in conflict with the Community Plan?

2. Will the project generate “considerable” public or neighborhood interest?

3. Is the project a major (versus minor) Conditional Use Permit?

4. Is the project in the Hillside Overlay District?

5. Is the project a request for a General Plan Amendment or Rezoning?

6. Does the project require a Development Plan?

7. Is the project creating new parcels?

8. Would the project create a precedent that might become a problem in the future?

As a result of applying these criteria, the steering committee may recommend one of the following actions:

1. Support the proposal

2. Oppose the proposal

3. Take no position on the proposal

4. Sponsor area or neighborhood meetings

5. Refer the project to a sub-committee for further review

6. Refer the project or issue to a suitable County agency or office

7. Offer the services of a mediator to help resolve disputes

Land Use Steering Committee members – Ted Tedesco (chair), Ralph Baxter, Richard Shaikewitz, Barry Siegel and Tony Harbour – have many years of experience in architecture, land use, planning and transportation issues. They can be reached through the Montecito Association office at 969-2026 or at info@montecitoassociation.org.