(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, P.O. Box 50015, Montecito, CA. 93150. You can also FAX such mail to: (805) 969-6654, or E-mail to Tim@montecitojournal.net)

Dealing the Race Card

(Re “Obama and Dr. Livingston” montecitojournal.net/archive/13/5/706/):Would Ward Connerly, Barbara Grutter, and Jennifer Gratz fight the recent attempts to create a new white county north of Atlanta which would deny equal opportunities to poorer blacks in south Atlanta due to lack of funding? I will reserve my judgment as to whether the three are racist until Ward Connerly makes a decision to oppose the creation of a new white county.

Submitted via www.montecitojournal.net" www.montecitojournal.net

(Columnist’s Note: Throughout America, hordes of residents have fled urban centers and created new suburban communities. They have done so to insulate themselves and their families from crime, drugs, inferior urban infrastructure, corrupt political systems and a host of other problems. Sometimes, race is involved in their decisions and sometimes it is not. The individual posing the question has created his or her own characterization of the matter and has established his or her own ground rules for my response. I will not play the game according to those rules. First, the proposal is not to create a "new white county." Second, to not oppose the creation of this county does not make me a "racist." – Ward Connerly)

Tinkering with the Process

This letter is in response to Harry Hovey’s letter (www.montecitojournal.net/archive/13/5/705/), which defended the importance of the Montecito Association by citing many old cases where the MA prevailed in preserving Montecito:

I agree with you. I don't know how to be more direct so I'll say it again. I agree with you. And nothing I have ever said could reasonably be construed as to imply that I don't. So where did you get your views of the Voices of Montecito?

Certainly not in my letter two weeks ago because it doesn't even mention the Montecito Association. Read the VOM Newsletter published four or five days ago. You couldn't have gotten your views there because we said we think the Montecito Association has done wonderful things for our community.

Why would you ask me to make sure that I am informed before I try to make radical changes? What radical changes? I'd like to see a list of radical changes I've recommended. All I've ever recommended is that we take an independent look at the planning process. Reviewing government is pretty standard stuff in America. Right next to your letter in the Journal last week your President, Robert Collector, said, "In August, certain excom members proposed we study an institutional reorganization, arguing that we lobbied for review of the Montecito Planning Commission and Montecito Board of Architectural Review (emphasis added) after they left the Montecito Association and became County agencies, so why not review ourselves as well? "

So, let me get this straight. It's ok for the MA to review the MPC and MBAR, its even ok for the MA to review itself, but it's not ok for anyone else to want a review or even be a part of a review? Wow, that's an interesting take on democracy.

I said this in our newsletter, and I'll say it again. I welcome a healthy debate about issues we discuss, but the best way to ignore our issues is to change the subject, and, Mr. Hovey, by trying to make this a debate about the Montecito Association instead of an effort to have community wide review of our planning process is definitely non-responsive.

In an act of extraordinary candor, Bob (who is a personal friend) admits that "yes, on occasion we’d been overzealous, overreaching and had at times overcomplicated the land use process. We further validated the idea of re-organization by discovery of organizational inefficiencies, and worse, our failure to better communicate who we are, what we do, and how the land use process in Santa Barbara County functions to our constituency."

If the MA can find things to fix after 60 years of hard work, wouldn't any reasonable person think it possible to find things to fix in a planning process maybe six years old? 

And if that venerable organization found things to tinker with, don't you think it possible that there may be some aspects of the MPC, MBAR, and the planners and staff who work with them that could be better?

I also agree with your last statement, that a democracy requires its citizens to be informed. The review we propose will help us all toward that end.

Michael Jaffe

President, Voices of Montecito

(Publisher’s Note: Since this letter was written, there has been a major shakeup within the Montecito Association; read Guillaume Doane’s report on page 14)

Paving America

All Americans can speak out about laws that they do not like and lobby for change. But if you violate them there are repercussions. 

If I had to sum up the attitude against increasing accessibility in Montecito it would be, "This is good for us and we like it that way, and don't much care if you like it." Except, you are excluding a segment of the population from your community and denying them their Civil Right…

So, what are the alternatives? People with mobility constraints could all go someplace else. Or disappear off the face of the Earth. Or we could put them in institutions. Maybe the CV could sponsor a contest for a final solution.

Another thought. Are the good citizens of Montecito Land aware that if you become a city you will have to take oath to play by the rules. Including following a General Plan. And preparing your own Housing Element to identify priorities for housing based on socio-economic group and need. And then there is that Fair Share thing to comply with.

Recently I was asked how this concerns me if I don't live there? If Montecito is not wheelchair friendly, how can I live there?

Karen Friedman

Carpinteria

(Publisher’s Note: Your concern over handicap accessibility is valid, but it should be kept within context. It would be impossible to have sidewalks, for example, stretching from here to Santa Ynez. It would also be extremely difficult to put sidewalks in rural areas like Montana, Kansas, Idaho, Alaska, and other places that have low density. Within city limits I understand our responsibility to build sidewalks for handicapped individuals, but extending them throughout our national parks and backcountry is probably not a good idea, so there is a limit somewhere. All of Montecito’s commercial areas have sidewalks; we would support a more extensive urban trail system, but Montecito – at least not in the foreseeable future – is unlikely to become “wheelchair friendly” to the extent that you wish. – TLB)

Miramar Seawall Removal

I would like to thank the Montecito Journal for its excellent news coverage regarding the sale of the historic beachfront Miramar Hotel ("The Blue Lady and Her New Man" montecitojournal.net/archive/13/5/709/). We join neighbors and residents of Santa Barbara in welcoming new owner Rick Caruso and Caruso Affiliates and look forward to working with them in the redevelopment of the site. And while we applaud the concerns raised in the article about traffic, landscaping, and adverse impacts associated with the size of the hotel and structures, and threat of conversion of the property to condo-type residential development, we would like to see appropriate energy and focus devoted to the site's most important feature: the beach. The Miramar Hotel is the site of one of the ugliest, most unsightly awful (not to mention huge and environmentally destructive) seawalls on the entire California coast. See it for yourself at "http://www.cacoast.org/200404901"www.cacoast.org/200404901. The removal of the seawall should be a foremost requirement of any redevelopment of the property. Removal of the Miramar seawall would allow for restoration of the public beach and re-creation of the historic natural landscaping and beach/dune environment that would benefit hotel owners, visitors and the public in the future as well as provide for the inevitable sea-rise associated with climate heating. If left in place, there is little doubt the beach will disappear in future decades.

Sincerely,

Mark A. Massara

Director, Sierra Club Coastal Programs