Miramar Litigation Ahead?

In the home stretch of the Miramar approval process, possible litigations by some residents could stop it dead in its tracks. According to developer Rick Caruso, “We know there are a couple of the neighbors that have hired lawyers, and we’re not sure why they would hire lawyers unless they anticipate litigation.”

Caruso discussed the possible litigation at the most recent Montecito Association meeting, in response to a question from audience member Bob Hazard. “There was a letter that was sent in by a lawyer that was obtained by Brad Hall that listed about a dozen things including an Indian burial site issue that is just out of the blue,” Caruso said. “I don’t know what to say other than if people want to delay the project for the sake of delaying it, that’s why they hire lawyers. But we are hoping that doesn’t happen.” He went on to say, “We stand ready to continue to meet with people if they have legitimate concerns; if they have an agenda just to kill the project then unfortunately there’s not much to do other than defend the project which we’re prepared to do. We think it’s a good project.”

Later in the meeting Caruso made it clear to the board and the audience that the plans as presented are final. “I would hate to leave the impression that there is a town hall, and there’s comments, and that we’re going to go back and change the plan before we go to the June 10 [MPC] meeting. We’re not,” he said firmly.

With the Montecito Association currently “in support” of the project, its board of directors is expected to formally recommend approval or disapproval of the project to the Montecito Planning Commission. This decision will be based on a recommendation by the Land Use Committee, which meets on May 5. “I would hate to leave the impression that the recommendation goes forward to approve the project subject to the twenty-seven different things you think need to be changed. At that point I’d rather have a recommendation that says ‘we do not support the project.’ I think we are either moving forward or we’re not moving forward. I say that with all due respect,” Caruso said.

The Land Use meeting, in which the public is welcome, will be held at 9 am on Monday May 5.

Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Presents “Fiddler On The Roof”

On April 26 and 27 some of the brightest and most talented local children will take part in a performance of the Broadway classic, “Fiddler On The Roof.” Selected kids from local schools including Montecito Union, Marymount, Santa Barbara High, Laguna Blanca and Peabody have been practicing and rehearsing since September for the show, to be held at the Lobero Theatre.

The director, Montecito resident Janet Adderley has been coaching drama for over fifteen years. She founded her acting school, The Adderley School for the Performing Arts, in 1994 to help her daughter Alana, now 25, overcome extreme shyness. After relocating to Santa Barbara in 2003, she opened a second school site on Anacapa Street at the coaxing of Betsy von Summer Moller, who wished to have a professional outlet for the acting needs of her son Jack. Now Adderley and her staff teach over 300 kids.

After seeing the tremendous talent among her students, she formed the Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theatre (SBYET) and partnered with the Lobero Theater to give them a place to perform. The Youth Ensemble is a highly gifted group of about two dozen kids. “It was the perfect recipe for creating something truly special in that it would be a semi-professional children’s theatre ensemble that was sponsored and endowed by the community at large,” Adderley said about the natural partnership with the Lobero. “Its mission statement is to be accessible and used by the community, so what a perfect marriage! And then add all the amazing philanthropic people in the community who believe in the arts and who’ve worked in the arts.”

Invitations to perform in SBYET go out in the spring, and rehearsals begin in the fall. Adderley finds most of her gifted talent from the Adderley School, but some of the kids she “scouts” from local school productions, or they approach her. Adderley believes in having two casts for her musicals, explaining that it gives every child the best experience possible. “They learn what it is like for them to plant their feet on the Lobero stage and own their moment, and equally important, they learn what it is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Along with all the theater training and the voice training and all of that, what an unbelievable experience theater is for children because it teaches them the value of community,” she said.

Adderley says theater gives kids more focus and an increased self esteem. “It’s helped my singing a lot and helped my stage presence,” says 13-year-old Andrew McCaffery, who plays Tevye in two of the four performances. He has recently been chosen to sing in a jazz band at Laguna Blanca. “It’s been amazing,” says 11-year-old David Schaeman, who also plays Tevye, “SBYET allows me to express myself through acting and singing. It’s helpful to work with kids what are really talented and dedicated.” Schaeman is currently in the final round of auditions for “Les Miserable,” to be performed at the Hollywood Bowl. SBYET is for kids who have theatre “in their toes” says Adderley, who hopes to produce a full-scale Broadway musical each year and become an integral part of the Lobero season.

Tickets are on sale now at the Lobero box office. For more information visit www.adderleyschool.com

Fire Drill

On Saturday, April 12, members of the Montecito Fire Protection District braved the heat to inform residents of the upcoming evacuation drill. The event, referred to as a "walk and talk," took place in the area between Cold Spring Road, Coyote, Sycamore Canyon and East Mountain Drive. "It was very successful," said Geri Simmons Ventura of the MFPD.

Forty one representatives from Los Padres National Forest, Carpinteria-Summerland Fire District, Santa Barbara City Fire Department, Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Amateur Radio Emergency Services, American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council and volunteer group MERRAG participated in the walk and talk which provided evacuation information to residents. Packets were handed out containing information about the drill, evacuation preparedness, and specialized preparedness brochures regarding pets in disasters. "From the comments received from the volunteers, it seems like most people they had contact with were aware of the drill," Ventura said.

The rest of the evacuation-zone residents will be provided with the same information before the drill on April 26; Montecito Fire Protection District Engine Companies are going door to door to deliver the packets throughout the week.

The actual drill, scheduled for the morning of Saturday, April 26, will be conducted in the west side of the District to test the reverse 9-1-1 system and evaluate the effectiveness of notification methods and evacuation plans. Ventura tells us the drill scenario will be based on a wind-driven wildfire burning into the evacuation zone. The drill will give residents and emergency service providers alike a realistic view of the potential impacts an evacuation could have on the area. Ventura reminds us that the drill is voluntary, but highly encourages residents within the drill zone to participate. "We've been working for over five months to make sure this happens and is a good training and learning experience," said Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Wallace.

For security purposes, the evacuation area will be patrolled by additional law enforcement and community volunteers, and key areas may be monitored by cameras for both security and drill evaluation. According to Lieutenant Eric Koopmans of the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department, residents involved in the drill are asked to keep gates to their homes and property closed for security reasons.

The drill will begin at 9 am and will last approximately one to two hours. For more information visit www.montecitofire.com