It Wasn't Me, I Swear

I think anonymous letters in the Journal provide intriguing insights we might not be able to garner if the authors had to reveal themselves. However, I also think the policy leads to some pretty wild speculation about who the anonymous authors might be.

Case in point, in the last edition of the Journal (MJ #14/16), there was a rather long anonymous letter against cityhood. Many people have asked me if I wrote that letter because, I assume, the last paragraph suggested a Community Service District, long one of my favorite vehicles for Montecito governance.

I did not write the "Anonymous" letter in last week's Journal. I would hope the community would know me well enough by now to know I have no need for anonymous letters. For many years as Montecito's political affairs columnist for the Journal, the News-Press and the Independent, I have proven I am not afraid to stand up for my opinions and/or sign my name to them. If and when I develop a position on cityhood, I will make it known loud and clear, without a flicker of fear and under my fully acknowledged signature!

P.S. – Given last week's anonymous letter prompted many people to ask my cityhood stand, it is this: The initiators of the cityhood drive seem to still have a lot of research left on their plate. I do not believe the city of Santa Barbara will easily turn over the keys to Coast Village Road, and that will be a small skirmish compared to getting the County Board of Supervisors to let Montecito extricate. I think the Supervisors will be quite resistant to Montecito's departure from the county system, taking with us our $16 million of annual property taxes and to dissuade us, they might put in place some pretty painful hurdles. While there are assets to the Montecito cityhood concept, there are also important liabilities as well. We, as a community, need to investigate thoroughly what those potential risks might be, long before we venture down an uncharted cityhood path filled with surprises.

Sincerely,

J'Amy Brown

Past President, Montecito Association

Montecito

(Publisher's Note: We believe you J'Amy! If there's something I have learned in this business, its you are certainly not shy of sharing your opinion. ~ TLB

Dear Anonymous

I agree with Tim. I can’t for the life of me understand why you want to remain anonymous. Especially after your implied criticism of our Cityhood Study Group for being “non-disclosed.” Why are we “non-disclosed?” My name and my associations are published in every article I write on this subject. Ask anyone at the Montecito Association and they will tell you everyone in our group. Call me and ask. I am happy to oblige.

What I think would be a better way for you to express your concerns would be to come to the neutral forums that the Montecito Association is going to sponsor over the next four months or so. Ask some questions. Offer some insight. As we said last week, we are not committed to Cityhood. And certainly, if a democratic majority of Montecito voters don’t want Cityhood, that’s fine with us.

But I do agree with your letter, in that Montecito faces some serious problems and as neighbors we would be doing ourselves an injustice if we didn’t look at every possible solution. Someone noted at the last Montecito Association meeting that Cityhood didn’t appear to be a viable solution for Montecito when the MA studied it in 1999/2000. But it isn’t 1999 any more and a lot has changed. The preliminary fiscal analysis we have commissioned by experts in the field suggests that Cityhood is not only financially viable, but critical to ensuring the kind of community services that Montecito has always asked for but rarely received.

Michael Jaffe

President, Voices of Montecito

Montecito

Re: No Go on Cityhood

Since I became President of the Montecito Association early last year, I have made it a policy not to respond to the occasional letter that misrepresents facts about our process, decisions, etc. However, in this case I appreciate the opportunity to offer a response;

I will only address the comments about the Montecito Association.

It is true that some of the traditional roles of the Association have changed over the last five years due to the formation of the Montecito Planning Commission and the MBAR. However, to claim that the current 17-member elected MA Board of Directors needs some new blood clearly shows this person has not attended one of our meetings for a long time and has not been paying attention or reading the Journal. Since January of 2007, we have virtually all-new leadership. Of the 5 top officers, only 1 has served more than 3 years. Of the total 17 Board members, only 2 have served longer than 3 years and 11, one year or less. The quality of this Board is very high, with a variety of real world experiences and points of view. The Association is not some foreign body; we are all residents and homeowners of Montecito who are willing to volunteer many hours each month to help this community.

As for the comment about open dialogues: Even though we are technically a private group, agendas are available the week before board meetings and minutes are posted to the web site following approval by the Board at the following meeting. Meetings are noticed in advance and are open to all, including non-members. Personal information on Board members is available on the web site and all financials, records of meetings, motions, etc. are available to the public. Complete Board packets are also available at our office in advance of monthly meetings.

Although our membership is again growing after several years of decline, one does not have to be a member to participate or be heard. Our Board takes thoughtfully considered positions on issues based on public input and the Community Plan. The last five Board meetings have been standing room only so it should be pretty obvious that most people already know about our open dialogue and process. How much more open can we be?

I suggest this person, persons, or anyone with questions, concerns or comments attend one of our regularly scheduled Board or Land Use committee meetings and speak up. Or you can call me and we can have coffee and talk – I’ll buy.

Sincerely,

Bill Palladini

President, Montecito Association

Montecito

Shmoes Have Needs Too

I read with interest about the renovations planned by Ty Warner to Montecito Country Club (MJ #14/13).

He now owns, what, three local golf courses? None of which most of us local golfers can afford to play on.

Here's a suggestion to Ty: Why not provide just one course easily affordable to us shmoes who shelled out $4.74 each for the Beanie Babies that paid for those courses?

Joe Rution

Santa Barbara

(Publisher's Note: I am not a golfer but my father certainly plays a lot. I know he plays Sandpiper on off-peak hours, along with Rancho San Marcos. Considering how much of a cheapskate he is, those courses during those times are most likely affordable. ~ TLB (Founder’s note: For $400 a year, one can sign up for the Sandpiper-San Marcos “Preferred Players Program,” which allows members to play for $45-$50 Monday through Thursday, and $65-$75 on weekends. Both courses have been meticulously maintained since Warner purchased them. – J.B.)

Lost Representation and Street Folly

CAB (Cars Are Basic) routinely updates the public on Urban Planning and Redevelopment plans based upon solid data to address ever-changing needs (www.CarsAreBasic.org).

Needs the City of Santa Barbara continues to ignore. A full decade of recording this history makes this clear.

Changing procedure after failed outcomes in transportation never crosses the consciousness of the city planners. Corrections are "overlays" excusing their mistakes. The failed 30-year-old transportation plan of the City of Santa Barbara is hidden by political correctness.

Increasing urban density creates demands for roads and parking, the lack of which are putting strains on historic transportation paths. Instead of accepting the right of freedom of travel the city dictates by destroying capacity.

Elementary school students understand this. It is schoolyard bully politics.

Knuckle under or watch your projects delayed or denied. It that fails, call them names: "uncaring," "anti-environment," and "pro-car."

Interim Parking Shortage Guidelines are the beginning of a Long Term Parking Elimination. The theory is: without parking, there will be no traffic.

City Interim Shortage Guidelines and Coordinated Long Term Operations are intended to kill auto use. Supposed "alternatives" are cover-ups for taking away your freedom of choice.

This plan greatly increases the risk of litigation related to on-street accidents and intentionally creates conditions that destroy businesses as a direct result of traffic policies.

Mistakes are covered up instead of solved, e.g.: failure to make a right-turn lane for a $30 million parking structure and removing on-street parking to "fix" the problem. These issues directly effect transportation planning along Coast Village Road and Circle. They impact decisions regarding new construction and parking.

Taxes are levied to pay for mistakes. Rules governing tax spending are intentionally vague separating taxpayers from their hard earned dollars. Do you want streets that work? Do you want choice over decree? Do you want to vote for more taxes? Do you want representation before they tax you?

If this is what you want then it is time to "demand" decisions based upon local statistics. Are you ready to make this demand?

Scott Wenz, President, CAB

Santa Barbara