(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)

Preserving Gentrification

In response to Michael Jaffe’s column (“What Wild & Crazy Growth?”): Public participation is the only answer to planning in pseudo-democratic Montecito. But it won't work for several reasons.

1) Public planning is an intellectually vigorous, inter-disciplinary task;

2) Its chief resource is information;

3) The public doesn't have the time, skills, information or interest that a general plan requires.

What we call planning ends up being nitpicking zoning, and public planning meetings end up with the public participants being the same old faces.

Planning for that Village feel will follow the existing process of gentrification. This will preserve a rare scenic and social place for the upper class. Think of the alternative.

Be Brave Comrades,

KNCB Moore

(Editor’s note: While we agree with some of your observations regarding who shows up at so-called “public meetings,” i.e., “the same old faces,” we can’t agree with your summation. “The same old faces” are also the ones that volunteer – month after month and year after year – their time, expertise, and energy to make Montecito what it is. In fact, everybody everywhere depends upon those “same old faces” to make things work, whether those faces simply sit in the public section to complain, criticize, comprehend, and maybe even contribute, or sit as members of the various boards. So, count us as fans of the gadflies, as annoying as they can sometimes be. One more thing: when you write “Think of the alternative,” what exactly is that alternative, Comrade? – TLB)

Parking Problems

Last week’s editorials included a piece by TLB about the increasing difficulty of finding parking along Coast Village Circle. Though there are a number of 15-passenger vans from what appear to be “a few local contractors” making rounds every weekday morning and afternoon, readers might be surprised that they are all headed to one single property in Montecito. Many of those vans make multiple round trips, often with more than their legal allotment of 15 passengers.

Construction is a way of life in Montecito. Like the foggy summer days that often outnumber sunny ones, Montecito residents might concede that a day of peace and quiet – the kind you would expect in a “semi-rural” area – is unusual. One is almost always within earshot of heavy machinery and power equipment, as everybody and their mother is building at least one dream home. The constant drive to residential glory creates an interesting dichotomy of transportation and the entitlement of property owners.

For every person who wants to build his or her personal palace, there are dozens, if not hundreds of individuals who must convene, at some point in time, upon one location to commence construction. Some construction sites, especially those that are managed efficiently, can accommodate all the vehicles of the workers who must ply their trades there. In most cases, at least a few tradesmen must park along the street nearby. On the other side of the fence are the residents and neighbors nearby who would rather not have strange cars parked outside their front gates. Some residents, however, take it a step further, asserting through notes left on cars and calls to offending property owners and general contractors, that nobody should be parking on their streets (I recognize there are many streets legitimately designated as “private”).

As is the case for the workers parking on Coast Village Circle, many have been threatened in the past with towing for parking in close proximity to their jobsite on very public streets. Even on South Jameson, where there are no homes and only a weathered fence that barely hides the decaying Miramar property, workers were told by nearby residents that they were not allowed to park there. Clearly the cars of the workers are not always pleasant to look at or parked well, and they sometimes pose an impediment to the safe passage of vehicles, pedestrians, and others using the street. The situation, however, is compounded by the tendency of Montecito homeowners to intentionally fill the road shoulders adjacent to their properties with rocks and landscaping so that no one, not even the neighbor just out for a morning stroll, can set foot or wheel there.

Caught in the middle are the workers. These are men and women who are simply trying to get to work, make a living, and get home to their families. Many of them have already driven at least an hour by the time they enter Montecito. When workers are told that they must not park near their jobsite but instead use a crowded shuttle, or else face dismissal from the job, it only adds to their commute time. I would venture to say that it is quite disrespectful as well – disrespectful to the very people on whom all Montecito residents must depend if they want even minor construction done on their home(s).

Everyone seems to want work done on their homes, but no one wants to see the workers or their cars on the streets. If Montecito residents want to build and remodel their homes, have roads that are free of excess parked cars, and be able to park at their own businesses and places of work on Coast Village Road, they have few options besides – dare I say? – building more modestly, or requiring general contractors to more efficiently time the arrival of individual trades in order to accommodate all the construction vehicles on the construction site. Many in Montecito would benefit from a designated parking lot for this type of traffic, or at least a park-and-ride style program that legitimizes the use of parking lots that are empty on most weekdays, such as those at the Manning Parks. But then again, who wants a parking lot for workers on their street?

Name withheld upon request

(Ed. note: Thank you; your letter goes a long way in explaining the deteriorating parking conditions along Coast Village Circle and how and why they got that way! One way to deal with this would be through the permit process, i.e., make parking considerations an integral part of a building permit. – TLB)