(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)

Coexisting with Cyclists

I have a question; does anyone else in Montecito have a problem with cyclists? My wife and I have lived here two years now and have not heard anyone complain. I know we live in a beautiful area and community, that's why we moved here, but I don't feel like jeopardizing my family’s life every time I drive on East Valley, Toro Canyon, Sheffield and Ortega Ridge Road because a cyclist thinks he owns the road.

All of these roads have very limited visibility, with no bike lanes and the cyclists expect you to break the law by having to cross over a double line, which is illegal, when you can't even see if there is oncoming traffic. This is an extremely dangerous situation and it happens everyday. I am in constant fear of being responsible for hitting a biker just because I want to stay safe in my lane.

Since there is no shoulder, a single cyclist is bad enough, as they refuse to stay on the white line and ride in the middle of the lane, but if there are multiple cyclists they insist on riding side by side and taking the whole lane. You have no choice but to break the law and endanger your life to get around them. They have no fear of cars and if you honk you get a hand gesture as if you are the problem, acting as if it is their road and I am inconveniencing them.

I had thought before I moved here that cycling required a bike lane but I guess that is not true. Why do we have bike lanes if they can ride on roads with no bike lanes and even more with no shoulders and no room for a cyclist? They have spent millions on bike paths lately and some roads in our area do have them; why can't we restrict cyclists to roads with bike lanes, which do exist in the area?

I spoke to a Sheriff’s Deputy and he told me that cyclists have the same rights as a car, which I understand, but if I was in my car doing 5 mph in a 35 mph zone I would get a ticket for going too slow. The deputy also told me they have problems all the time with cyclists and not long ago a group of them almost attacked an officer for approaching a group of cyclists that were causing trouble. I thought cyclists were mostly good people; they obviously care about their health so why would they think they don't need to worry about cars? I have heard stories of many people in the area hurt or even killed cycling by a car.

I would like to not just complain, but to do something about this. Can anyone tell me what we need to do to fix this problem? What can we do to stop this?

Mark & Adriana Shuman


(Editor’s note: The bike lane around Ortega Ridge is a good start, although I’ve seen many cyclists racing down Ortega Ridge, oblivious of the new lane – TLB)

Redistributing Housing

Kim Seefeld, You have become a cult hero of sorts in the affordable housing community. Your credibility and tenacity have helped bring to light some of the many abuses in the Affordable Program. Private Property Report expresses your views so well that I am beginning to understand some of your logic. But I don't always agree. I can't. My very survival is on the line. I need an accessible space. Based on my Social Security income I am eligible for Affordable Housing. The problem is there is little accessible housing to be had in any price range. Historically, certain groups have been excluded from certain communities. That is why I believe Fair Housing is protected under the Civil Rights Act. The mandated numbers that you so liberally quote in your articles are proportionally high because of this unmet need.

You make "taxpayer-subsidized housing" sound like a dirty word. Our Federal Government collects all the tax dollars and re-distributes it with exacting formulas. Affordable Housing is how HUD gets the money to the lowest income groups. That is why they call it "fair share." It is "our" fair share and I do not believe that you are the best judge of who deserves the funding. If you don't agree with the system, work within the system to change it. That is the right of all Americans. Just don't be surprised if it appears to others that you are excluding certain groups. You are!

You fault the Board of Supervisors for taking care of business in Santa Maria. Looks to me that is the more prudent choice. As a Government they are honor bound to play by the rules. We call them Laws. When some do not like the rules it is all too easy to tie up the proceedings. Pound for pound, Montecito has a strong percentage of concerned legal professionals. These brightest and best have banded together as your Homeowner's Defense Fund to fight housing mandates. I would venture to guess that this fine group has cost the taxpayers more dollars than I will ever see in subsidized housing. How much money has the County paid in legal costs over land use disputes in Montecito?

Karen Friedman


(Editor’s note: We’re confused; first you advise us to “work within the system to change it,” and a few sentences later gripe that the Homeowner’s Defense Fund has cost taxpayers more dollars than you will ever see. There is no way to try to change the system without it costing money. “Taxpayer subsidized housing” may sound like “dirty words” to you, but that is exactly what so-called “affordable” housing is. – TLB)

Controlling Oil Overseas

My latest letter and your retort (http://www.montecitojournal.net/archive/13/23/1098/) maybe you, too, suffer from Bush's lack of lucid thinking as you still failed to rebut anything about the credit fiasco the U.S. is suffering from and that it's a war for oil – as opposed to the reasons and excuses (and yes, they amount to lies) that Bush continues to throw at the general public.

Just think of the money angle, which is what it always boils down to: the "terrorists" have declared war on us because they don't want the United States controlling any of their valuable petroleum resources! It's as simple as that, so, instead, how about somebody just figuring out how to buy the stuff from them at a reasonable price.

Ben Burned


(Publisher’s Note: It would be hard for me to believe that your “terrorists” are doing this for financial reasons. It would seem that religion plays a large factor in terrorists’ decisions. How would someone strapping bombs to their chest benefit them financially (besides strange deals struck so their family receives compensation for their suicide)? I also can’t help to acknowledge the efforts of countless clerics on Al Jazeera reminding fellow Muslims that they are in a religious war against the infidels. I do not doubt there are people financially benefiting from the Iraq War (OPEC) and past financial negotiations with Saddam Hussein have convoluted many political decisions (France, Russia) but there are millions of Islamist extremist who despise our morality, semi-free culture, and cultural outlook. As for the “war for oil,” it’s ludicrous on its face. It would have been immeasurably cheaper to simply have purchased it on the open market. – TLB)