Miramar Madness

Caruso Affiliated has worked hard to incorporate all the ideas of the community into its plans for rebuilding the Miramar Hotel. This week I attended a meeting at the home of Valerie and Bob Montgomery to hear the latest outline of progress. The builders seem co-operative, the proposal sounds valid and I am sure everyone will welcome an attractive bungalow hotel in place of the pile of debris that has occupied the area so long.

I have been a resident of Montecito for more than fifty years and look forward to having a space for out-of-town guests, a space for parties, beach picnics and the warm atmosphere of a piano bar where people may gather after dinner to dance, talk and praise the surroundings. I urge that all technicalities be approved so that construction may begin as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Maxi Decker

Montecito

(Publisher’s Note: You shouldn’t have to wait long. We’ll know in June whether Mr. Caruso will be allowed to go ahead with his plan for the Miramar or whether a small group of beachfront residents will succeed in delaying the project. We’re not taking sides – yet; although we believe Caruso’s plan is admirable, had he simply agreed to replicate the Schrager plan, he could have begun construction immediately. – TLB)

Just Build it Already

After reading, for years now, of the travails of rebuilding the Miramar, I would like to ask a question to anyone who has the least trepidation about approving Mr. Caruso's proposed plans. Could anything he proposes be even one half as bad as the moldering structure we have all had to look at for years?

I think common sense says, "No".

J. Love

Summerland

No Go on Cityhood

I have read the recent articles regarding the new interest for possible cityhood for Montecito (MJ #14/15, MJ #14/14). I find it very interesting and disturbing. I realize that something has to be done, but I also believe this is not the way to go.

These past 5 years Montecito has seen the Montecito Association – the central power of Montecito – dwindle; it is slowly losing its identity and influence. It is hard for the Montecito Association to claim that it is representing Montecito when there are only 800 members out of a community with over 13,000 people living here. The MA and its seventeen-member board really needs some new blood and new ideas. They should update their web page so that area residents can easily log in and check out what is currently being discussed or any upcoming discussions and weigh in with any suggestions or opinions. They have to open any and all dialogues to the residents that they are supposedly representing. I don't believe they truly represent the consensus anymore, as they did in the past.

The sad part is that our First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal still recognizes the association as the mainstream voice of Montecito. Sure this would be so much easier for him if the MA were still the voice of Montecito, but if not, he needs to extend his reach and stay in contact with the rest. If anything he should listen to them but also widen his search. I believe he should have meetings and reach out at both elementary schools for the general public and stay in contact with other individual homeowner groups as well. He should try to contact as many different groups to keep in tune with as many individuals in Montecito as he possibly can. Surely being in contact with just one or two private homeowners groups isn't enough to justify any decisions for our area. The Montecito Association needs to reach out and involve more of the area residents in their decision-making process, back to when it was a central power, represented the majority of the residents, and worked for everyone in the community.

I can understand a lot of the residents’ frustration. Currently Montecito has properties that are valued at over $6 billion dollars, that's a whole lot of property taxes being paid to the county. Montecito is the cash cow of the county. What do we get in return? Very little. For example, just look at the condition of our streets. Very little road maintenance with few capital improvement projects. But cityhood is not the way to go. LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) has several web sites that explain the complete process for cityhood. Revenue sharing is a major portion of the process and don't forget the low-income housing quotas. Revenue sharing or revenue neutrality is: any incorporation cannot result in any lost revenue to the county in which the incorporation takes place. So any tax revenue (property or sales tax) losses must be made up by the new city to the county. A payment or other financial arrangements. The revenue sharing agreements are all negotiable and also have a length of time that can last up to 28 years or so.

What businesses can a new city of Montecito have to help support it? Well for one it doesn't include Coast Village Road, that's already a cash cow for the city of Santa Barbara. But a new city would have Ty Warner's properties and Rick Caruso's properties. Any guesses on whom could infiltrate and run a new city with their own candidates? Then there's the low-income housing quota for the new city of Montecito. What would you think of building some nice low-income units on the Montecito Golf Course, the Valley Club or maybe Birnam Wood? Mr. Rick Caruso may be able to speed up his approval of the Miramar by donating a few acres for low-income housing as well. It's just something to think about. Heck, Montecito can't even figure out where to build a third fire station; can you imagine how hard it will be to build low-income housing in this community? And where is the Montecito Association's opinion of the proposed Miramar project that surely doesn't meet the guidelines written in the Montecito Community Plan? They have been too busy working on the Union 76 gas station project, where they have no legal status.

If this non-disclosed group of individuals currently researching incorporating Montecito wants something to work on, how about creating a special district that combines the: Montecito Water District, Montecito Sanitary District and the Montecito Fire District? Streamline these three organizations and combine their separate boundaries into one area. That would greatly benefit the residents of our community and keep them busy enough for a while.

Anonymous

Montecito

(Publisher's Note: The Montecito Association has from 800 to 1300 “household” memberships; there are only 4,200 parcels in greater Montecito, so the Association represents well over 25% of Montecito residents. As for Ty Warner and Rick Caruso "infiltrating" and electing their "own candidates" in a city of Montecito, we believe Mr. Warner and Mr. Caruso are here to do business and probably have better things to do with their time. Conspiring to “run” the new city would only make it more difficult for them to complete their projects. If we want to have a debate about cityhood, lets, but let’s keep the conspiracy rhetoric out of it. Our policy is as long as a letter writer refrains from maligning a person or business, we’ll print an “anonymous” letter. In this case, however, we can’t understand why you would not put a name to your missive. ~ TLB)