(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, 1122 Coast Village Circle, Montecito, CA. 93108. You can also FAX such mail to: (805) 969-6654, or E-mail to tim@montecitojournal.net)

Evacuation Danger During Fire Season

It has been one year since the town meeting in which Sycamore Canyon residents and neighbors learned that Caltrans was in the process of selling the sliding hillside of Sycamore Canyon Road to a private group of homeowners. We also learned that though Caltrans would be relinquishing ownership of the hillside, they would maintain ownership and responsibility for the road itself. Since that time, new gates have been installed on the road and residents have been notified that its use will be for emergency vehicles only.

Though I applaud this as a first step, it is not nearly enough. The overwhelming issue clearly expressed by the residents at the meeting was the lack of a safe exit from the surrounding area in case of fire. Even with Sycamore Canyon Road open, evacuating the area during a major blaze will be challenging. Without this road as a major egress, it is downright dangerous. The existing network of rural streets will simply not support the masses of people needing to get out in a broadly fronted fire. Picture the logjam of cars and horse trailers on the navigable portion of Sycamore Canyon toward Hot Springs as the hills empty of their residents. At such times people can panic and make mistakes. Add an overturned trailer to this scene, or the fire starting near this last major exit and the result could be horrible.

The point was made by a Montecito fire chief, and is well taken, that at this time the residents of the Sycamore Canyon area cannot count on using the road as an escape during a fire. For safety’s sake, we are to have other exit strategies. This is understood, but if our choices are limited to the existing network of narrow roads, or going up into the hills to escape the mountain blaze, our lives are in jeopardy...and there are many of us.

I invite our fire chiefs, our mayor, and civic leaders to be our advocates with Caltrans and the private entity who has/was to have purchased the hillside. Sycamore Canyon Road needs to be open to the public for the duration of the fire season so that its residents and neighbors can survive the firestorms native to our area. Summer’s heat will again be upon us, and with its heat come the winds. We will not be sleeping well.

Diana Wilson

Santa Barbara

Journal Found at the Grand Canyon

Every year over the last couple decades our expanded family and friends go to the Grand Canyon. Of course the look off the top and the journey down is, well, breathtaking. The latter in more ways... It is always nice after that journey down, to surprise your neighbors and guests, such as this year, Howling Flying Monkey puppets that my brother Dr. Charles Nowak (D.O.) brought with him from Michigan (that took the Junior Camp Inspection Rangers out of their color of authority) or my Homer Simpson's' family tent (showing Bart fishing up a three-eyed fish from the Nuclear cooling pond). Last year a former Santa Barbarian who worked at the Friendship Center, Evie Karmasin, did a full face plant 1/4 mile down the trail and ended up with a friend who was staying up top in one of the scenic lodges for a few days to recover.

The way up had me wanting to up my training for this summer's 5K Nite Moves in Santa Barbara, so I was able to do it in half the time and our last guest, Jim Sturnot, owner of Funny and Painless Traffic school (and video producer), brought up the rear... He had to video all the goings-on and watching him looking and finding recharge outlets in the Grand Canyon was a real laugh and Jim did it (Dave Gunther also helped out carrying his charger out from Ribbon Falls). By the way, Charles is looking to move to the area when he is able to transfer to family practice here. All and All a blast, and the same every year of ale on ice at the top helped us recover well. Oh and what happened to Joe and Tom? Well they were the guys in charge, our stoic leaders, also recovered well.

Greg Nowak

The Good Ol’ Days

I enjoyed the article "The Sportsman" by Dr. John Burk (montecitojournal.net/archive/13/20/1051/). It reminded me of fishing the way I used to do it with my dad many moons ago. Nice.

Jim Lewis

(Publisher’s Note: As a fisherman, I couldn’t agree with you more. On a sunny calm day, the Santa Barbara Channel is one of the most beautiful and plentiful fishing grounds around. – TLB)

Far Left Dogma

In response to a letter written by Ralph Auf der Heide, in which Mr. Auf der Heide criticized President Bush calling the administration “totally debased and depraved” (montecitojournal.net/archive/13/20/1034/):

Unbelievable! Does Mr. Auf der Heide write for George Soros or Moveon.org where they regularly spew out that far left dogma? Forget about facts! The old Lenin credo, say the lies often enough and they will become truth applies in his ranting. Such blatant, blind hatred is menacing.

Mr. Auf der Heide is to be complimented for one thing though; he gave his name, thereby enabling me to avoid donating to or joining anything with which he associates.

Maureen M. Masson

(Former Publisher’s Note: Ouch! Here’s a better idea: Give a listen to Dennis Miller’s radio talk show on 990 KTMS – he replaced Imus in the Morning. You might hear more opinions like those of Mr. Auf der Heide from callers, but the good thing is that Mr. Miller takes them on and deals with them sanely and rationally and because he does so, completely deflates most of their “arguments.” Dennis Miller’s syndicated show is noteworthy even when he’s not taking on conspiracy buffs; a recent program featured another Montecito resident – Peter Noone, formerly with Herman’s Hermits – and entertainingly reminisced about the British Invasion of the 1960s. Miller operates out of Santa Barbara and is a refreshing and intellectually honest replacement for Imus. By the way, we too appreciate and applaud Mr. Auf der Heide’s willingness to sign his name to his missives. – J.B.)