(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)

Chicken Little Gore

Have you considered that your admittedly "tad hasty" remark on another issue might also be true for your name-calling of Gore, "Chicken Little"? Have you ever considered that the scientists might be right and the sky might be falling? Why make Gore the bad-guy? Because he is a Democrat? Shame on you. As for the Blue Line, it will raise awareness on a very important issue and make a difference as to how seriously we take the environmental crisis. It brings it home, where it is. Maybe you might instead suggest Montecito donate the $12,000 for the Blue Line. That would be a better use of your editorial power and give the Journal (and Montecito) a better name in the larger community, instead of taking a cheap shot at Gore, which only shows your own political bias.

Charlene Broudy

Montecito

(Publisher’s Note: Gore’s political affiliation has nothing to do with our opinion of Al Gore. It would be nice to see one of the largest proponents of “Global Warming” actually practice what he preaches. His ecological footprint is 15-30 times the average person’s; how does this possibly help our environmental situation? Oh, and just exactly what did he do to “prevent” global warming (or “raise awareness” or “make a difference”) during his eight years as vice president?

If indeed the sky is falling [if scientists finally determine that it is, that’s when we’ll begin to worry; so far, that hasn’t happened], there’s not much we can do about it, certainly not within the ten-year window. As for the Blue Line, I believe that buying a few bicycles would actually help reduce emissions and accomplish something positive, unlike the Blue Line Project. – TLB)

Local Art Gone With The Wind Too

When the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CB&TL) opened stores in Montecito and upper State Street, they featured artworks by local artists. I would often see people walk around and enjoy the fantastic pictures. When they disappeared, I was told the regional manager decided the artwork made the stores look messy. That made no sense to me.

Now, CB&TL employees tell us local newspapers (including Montecito Journal) were also removed because they made the stores look messy. That doesn’t make any more sense—unless TV’s obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk is their regional manager. Even though CB&TL makes lovely beverages, I am not ready to drink their Kool-Aid.

When Starbucks removed local publications, it gave a logical explanation: they weren’t approved by headquarters. I wasn’t happy with the decision, but at least I could understand it.

History tells us that art and the media are generally restricted out of concern for control—not tidiness. Certainly, art and the media are often controversial. Large corporations know this all too well. Long ago, Starbucks altered its logo because its artwork was a bit risqué.

Control is one of the challenges of growth. Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz complained that company growth negatively impacted his coffee shops. "One of the results has been stores that no longer have the soul of the past," he wrote. "Some people even call our stores sterile, cookie cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee." (see Washington Post Sunday, March 4, 2007; Page A09).

So while I have doubts about CB&TL’s motives for removing local artworks and publications, it is clear that, ultimately, both customers and company lose when stores give up their local flavor. Compare that to Trader Joe’s who had local artists decorate our stores. CB&TL wake up and smell the coffee.

A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf customer

(Ex-publisher’s note: We haven’t heard a word from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, except for the automated response given to all. Our guess is they will pay lip service to our considerations but, as in the case of artwork by local artists, will not reconsider. From our long observation of chain-store strategy, what usually happens is that when a chain store first opens, it is solicitous of local sensibilities. Once established, however, the store usually – and as quietly as it can – dispenses with what it always considered superfluous and time-consuming non-productive bows to local sensibilities.

None of us visit Starbucks, except out of desperation. At first, we thought Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf was a different kind of operation, but we have now added it to that short list of merchants to avoid. These stores don’t want to be part of your community, and since it is not in our best interest to see businesses that shut us out prosper, we would be wise to ignore their presence.

For most things, only if you think local and buy local will you have any expectation of retaining a “neighborhood” feel to your commercial district. Otherwise, to borrow a phrase from a best-selling book: ye reap what ye sow. – J.B.)

Parking Needs For CVR Employees

I would like to reply to the letter written in response to MJ's recent editorial on parking on Coast Village Circle. Sure, everyone has a right to park there. And I applaud the building trades' sensitive and efficient solution to the parking problems on jobsites by exporting them elsewhere. No one wants to offend the owner of what might potentially be the next big job.

The writer speaks eloquently of the poor workers caught in the middle between irate property owners of Montecito and business owners of Coast Village Road. However, he ignores the plight of the workers in the businesses on Coast Village Road for whom a $35 parking ticket is no small issue (a very big issue if you are a restaurant worker at minimum wage).

While I am not a big fan of permit parking, I think that some solution that allows Coast Village Road workers to park in the spaces that were intended for them is necessary at this point. Or maybe the contractors would establish a fund to help with the parking tickets down here. With finished carpenters’ time billed out at $75/hour there should be a little money left over.

Name Withheld by Request

(Publisher’s Note: If a contractor is willing to pick up employees via a bus along Coast Village Circle, couldn’t they pick them up at home instead, or at a central point closer to home? Google shuttles many of its employees from home to work to save on transportation and parking. I am sure that any employee would be willing to pitch a dollar a day for gas to have home pick-up. Carpooling is another option. Most of the construction workers parked on Coast Village Circle are arriving in individual cars. Either way, there are many non-governmental solutions to this dilemma and hopefully the general contractor takes responsibility before the city does. None of us want meters, time limits, or permits, – TLB)

Thanks To Kirby From Gainey

John and I would like to thank you for such a lovely article about La Casa de Maria. Montecito is so lucky to have such a beautiful retreat in its midst. It reminds us of the lovely green areas in London, which are all open to the public. Not only can one walk through the grounds of La Casa de Maria, but, as you so beautifully stated, one can take courses, meditate, or simply enjoy the orchard and gardens.

We would like to add one important note: We wish to thank our friend Kirby Anderson from the Gainey Vineyard for donating the beverages for the evening. As we all know, good food and good wine make a perfect evening.

Many thanks,

Alyce Faye & John Cleese

Montecito