Does Montecito Need A Facelift?

For such an affluent area, Montecito has not kept up with the times. Boutique towns such as La Jolla, Newport Beach, and so on, reflect their wealth by the shops and stores surrounding them. Yacht and Ferrari dealerships, chic furniture stores, designer-label shops and trendy restaurants litter their commercial areas. The visual commercialization draws in tourists and pleases some residents, but has destroyed the original reason why people were attracted to the area.

The Upper Village of Montecito is a functioning community. We have all our basic necessities at arm’s length. It’s alive with local commerce.

We are not centrally planned nor created on the 90th floor of a development firm. We have no Koi ponds, waterfalls, or other artificial trademarks that developers use to seduce planners. We are a village, controlled and owned by residents. Montecito’s imperfections keep the area from becoming just another generic boutique town.

So why are people complaining?

Maybe it’s the lack of marble- and granite-floored boutiques, the shortage of brushed steel stools in our coffee houses, or the absence of acid jazz quietly playing in pointless trinket shops.

Thankfully, local wealth has held onto our commercial district. Residents like Gene Montesano (Lucky’s, Tre Lune, Ever), the Borgatellos (Upper Village), Richard Gunner (who recently wowed the Montecito Association Board of Directors with his new plans for the property across from Pierre Lafond), and even Coast Village Road landlords and ladies like Judy Foreman, have helped keep Montecito from becoming just another generic high-end town. But, increasing popularity and demand does jeopardize the local flavor most of us love.

Sometimes only larger corporate entities (i.e., banks, drugstores, etc.) can fill the need, but in many other cases, when there is a competitive situation, we can simply avoid the corporate entity and give our business to the local merchant, or we can succumb to the lure of efficiency and patronize the giant. Consciously doing the former will help guarantee a local base within which local businesses can survive; doing the latter will ensure their demise. More importantly, such individual daily decisions, made diligently, make it clear to a corporate retailer that in order to thrive here, it must become an integral part of the living village beast and not just a parasite sucking the life out of it.

The Blue Line… coming to a building near you!

The latest in the “Climate Change Awareness” crusade is the ridiculous “Blue Line” to be painted on sidewalks and buildings in downtown Santa Barbara to indicate where the water level will be in the near future unless we begin to ride bicycles in order to allow Chicken Littles like Al Gore to power their vapor-destroying jets across the planet. The Santa Barbara City Council has agreed to fork over $12,000 to have the Blue Line drawn.

Just one question: Why not use the $12,000 and offer to buy people that work in the city, bicycles, which would not only cut down on fossil fuel use, but also reduce traffic. At $300 a bicycle, the city could buy 40 bicycles. This inexpensive move could save energy and would remove 40 cars from the road during peak travel hours. The city could also use that money to install solar panels on city buildings.

If reducing energy consumption is council members’ goal, why not create reasonable ways to promote conservation?

A Fresh New Look

Thanks to a request made in April 2005 by the Coast Village Business Association, Coast Village Road will receive a fresh new coat of slurry seal. Beginning the week of July 23rd, the first stage of road preparation will begin on Coast Village Road and Coast Village Circle. Roads will not be closed during this time and work will only be done Monday through Thursday to avoid additional congestion on Fridays from the Farmers’ Market.

More on The Tempest In The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Teapot

Two issues ago, in a response to a letter from Felix Bourdon, we suggested that because Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Coast Village Road had removed both Montecito Journal and The Independent from its outlet, that it was time to ignore them. We also wrote that neither Starbucks nor Coffee Bean “donate anything to fundraisers or non-profits, ever.” Apparently we were a tad hasty, as we’ve been informed that Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf does indeed support local efforts.

We apologize if we got it wrong, but it still both irks and saddens us that the location where we’ve been ever since this paper began almost twelve years ago – when it was individually owned by Susan and Winston Sullivan of Tutti’s – no longer allows Montecito Journal to be distributed. Such a decision is exactly why we fear the corporate takeover of Montecito.

If you empathize with our angst, please e-mail and let them know how you feel. It might help our cause. In any case, thank you for the effort and letters of support.