Traffic, Noise, and Parking

Construction activity continues and is not likely to decline at any time soon.

The Montecito Association continues to receive calls and e-mails with questions and complaints related to the many construction projects going on in Montecito, as over 400 permits are currently open for a variety of projects. While not all of them are active at any one time, we should not be surprised that all this activity creates issues for the community.

Most complaints and calls for assistance relate to noise, hours of construction, working on weekends or holidays, and construction-related parking.

A few basics that govern these activities in Montecito:

1. Construction hours are from 7 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.

2. No outside construction (that produces noise) on Saturdays, Sundays, or State holidays.

3. Many permits carry restrictions regarding parking; some require that all vehicles must park on-site rather than on adjoining streets. Some do not. There are current initiatives being considered that would also restrict street parking within one-quarter mile of any construction site. This would prohibit workers from parking on nearby streets to avoid the on-site restrictions. These parking restrictions are usually addressed at MBAR (Montecito Board of Architectural Review) hearings and with Planning and Development staff – another good reason to get involved when you get notice of a pending project in your neighborhood.

4. Who do you call when there is noise coming from a site before or after hours or on days when it is not permitted? Call the County Zoning Hot Line at 805-568-3558. You may get a recording but they usually call you back. We have found them to be generally responsive and will send someone out to check – even on weekends.

5. Who do you call regarding construction parking? Call the number above, or if vehicles are blocking your right of way, or possibly creating an obstruction to emergency vehicles, call the CHP – not the Sheriff. You can get more info at our website – www.montecitoassociation.org

One of the best ways to deal with these issues is to get involved early. When you receive notice of a pending proposal in your neighborhood, go to the MBAR hearing and let your concerns be known. In addition, stay involved. Find out who the owner or the project supervisor is. Address your complaints and concerns to them. Generally, most of these issues can be resolved directly between the builder and the neighbors faster and with better and longer-lasting results. Personal interactions like this also help strengthen our community, as they promote constructive dialogue and cooperation. Remember, the people building next door will be your neighbors.

Property rights - Don’t we all have them?

Property Rights have become quite the buzz words lately, and conversation seems to focus in a single direction. Proponents support the concept that “property rights” accrue only to those wishing to build or develop, and, as the property is theirs, they should have unfettered and unquestioned ability to do whatever they want – even to the detriment of their neighbors and the community at large.

With over 4,000 individual properties and property owners in Montecito, it would seem reasonable to assert instead that we all have property rights – not just the few who have projects currently proposed or underway. Acknowledgement and respect of the “property rights” of all property owners will go a long way to promoting a more productive dialogue about what should and should not be built in Montecito.

Montecito Hillsides – An Endangered Species

There is serious debate heating up about the increasing pace of construction proposals for large homes on ever higher elevations of the Montecito foothills. These areas, generally above Mountain Drive, Park Lane, Bella Vista and Romero, have a separate zoning designation as being within the Hillside Overlay District and are considered to be in Resource Management Zones.

These restrictions acknowledge that the community, through its Montecito Community Plan, has expressed a desire to protect such valuable resources as native habitat, watersheds, views, and the rural nature of these hillsides. Therefore these zoning guidelines restrict use to very limited residential development – typically calling for smaller homes, lower profiles, and special attention to grading, vegetation removal, alterations to drainage patterns, etc. These restrictions are now being challenged by applicants wishing, in our opinion, to over-develop these hillside parcels.

As a result of recent project reviews at the MBAR, it has been recommended to the Montecito Planning Commission that issues related to development in the foothills need to be reviewed, and if needed, clarified for the community’s benefit. We urge this process to begin as soon as possible. These guidelines and restrictions are an essential component of the Montecito Community Plan, and require that all pertinent zoning ordinances be consistently interpreted and enforced. Nothing less than the historic character of Montecito is at stake.