CVBA Town Hall Meeting

“If you could make a postcard for Coast Village Road, what would it look like?” This was a question posed by business owner Trey Pinner to attendees at last week’s Coast Village Business Association Town Hall meeting. “Think about what the picture would look like on your postcard, and think about what that little saying on the back would read,” he said, “What is so great about this place?”

It was a question over 60 business owners, residents, land owners and community members thought about for close to three hours on May 8; the first of two town hall style meetings to be held by CVBA.

The meeting, which was held at the Montecito Country Club, started with short “informational position statements” with reps from several agencies. Kirsten Ayars with Ayars and Associates spoke about the upcoming roundabout construction and the impact on Coast Village Road. “It will be built in sub-stages, meaning that they’re going to allow traffic to drive through the area; they’ll be shifting the two intersections around while they build the roundabout; you’ll still be able to drive through the area,” she said.

Tom Mosby with Montecito Water District spoke to the serious water shortage the district is facing. “We just do not have the water supply to handle additional water demands at this point,” he said, “We hope that all of you recognize that water is very precious, it’s limited, and that you try and control its use.” Pat Kelly with Public Works, city councilman Grant House, Acting Community Development Director Dave Gustafson and Scott Klacking with the Santa Barbara Police Department also briefly spoke.

Attendees CVBA were separated into six groups for the bulk of the meeting; each group was led by a board member, and in one case the wife of a board member. Danny Copus, President of CVBA, secretary Jan Atkins, and business owners Trey Pinner, Maureen Murphy, Maria Arroyo, and Tom Bollay were chosen to facilitate the discussions at each table. Over a dozen topics were touched upon including traffic, parking, pedestrian accessibility, ADA guidelines, public vistas, night lighting, solar access, landscaping, building height, aesthetics, bulk and scale of new development, and “flavor” of the street.

A significant concern heard from many seemed to be maintaining the “village feel” Montecito has become known for. “Let’s create a reason why the tourists want to make Coast Village Road and Montecito their destination,” one participant said. Not installing traffic lights, prohibiting massive buildings and maintaining public vistas were important, but interestingly, several people said they would like to see more sidewalks leading from CVR to nearby neighborhoods, an idea that many in Montecito have historically been against.

A few other fresh ideas brought up were a parking garage on Coast Village Circle and bringing national merchants to CVR. By bringing real estate offices, insurance offices and banks to the lesser traveled Coast Village Circle, mused one property owner, more retail stores could be on the road itself, attracting more visitors. And by adding high-end national merchants within the retail sector, he added, CVR could become more of a shopping destination and create more foot traffic. Several people agreed this was an idea to look into.

“We had a good turnout,” said Copus about the meeting. He told us many attendees came up to him after the meeting and thanked the Association for hosting the event. The second town hall meeting is scheduled for May 28 at Montecito Country Club from 6-9 pm. Results of the first meeting will be reviewed, ideas will be refined and conclusions will be sent to City Hall. For more information call Jan Atkins at 969-0965.

Montecito Association

On Tuesday, May 13 the Montecito Association Board invited Kirsten Ayars to give the board and meeting attendees a presentation on the upcoming road construction. Expected to take four years and to cost $53 million, the Highway 101 Operational Improvement project is slated to begin in early July.

In the first phase of the project, a roundabout will be built at the intersection where Coast Village Road, Hot Springs Road, Cabrillo Blvd and Old Coast Highway meet. The roundabout will be similar in scale to the current Milpas Street roundabout. Although Ayars confirmed no detours would be required for the roundabout construction, she did mention two major closures to take place in the first year of the project. The first is a seven-month closure of the northbound 101 off-ramp at Milpas Street. The second, a closure of the southbound 101 on-ramp at Milpas, expected to be closed for five months. To the dismay of at least one resident present at the meeting, Ayars also announced the permanent closure of the southbound ramp at Cabrillo Blvd. She explained the entrance, which brings cars onto the freeway in the fast lane, is very dangerous and creates bottlenecks. She reminded us that detour routes are available at sbroads.com.

Ayars did mention the expected delay time that Cal Trans has calculated: an average of 10-15 minutes in addition to the current commute time. Some board members asked if that estimated time was calculated by using traffic at peak times; she answered that the calculation is an average of different times throughout the day.

In other Association news, Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Wallace gave an update about the site analysis for a third fire station. The site analysis will be complete and available for residents to look at on May 20. A district board meeting will be held on May 27 to discuss the results. “At that meeting we want public input about the report,” he said. Wallace and Sergeant Tom Walston from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department reported that the evacuation drill held on April 26 was a success.

MA President Bill Palladini explained a recent amendment to Resource Management Zone (RMZ) guidelines that was unanimously passed. “The Association realized through a series of controversial projects the last couple of years that something wasn’t working right. So we began working with Montecito Planning Commission, Supervisor Carbajal’s office, MBAR, and County Planning staff to ask for a higher level of review of all projects [in the RMZ zone] which would include a review by the MPC, which has not been done in the past,” he said. Palladini said he was happy to see that MPC and the Board of Supervisors both passed the amendment with a 5-0 vote. “What this change will do is require the MPC to review the project for approval; it will still have MBAR review but the planning commission will be the final decision maker,” explained Executive Director Victoria Greene. Palladini added that the amendment has the potential to provide a better review process for the homeowner as well. “It will hopefully cut down on the number of appeals,” he said.

Land Use Chair Ted Tedesco briefed the board on the land use meeting that took place on May 5 in which 37 speakers voiced their opinions about the controversial Miramar project. “I thought it was an excellent turnout; everybody was very courteous and yet very serious about their concerns about the project,” Tedesco said. Palladini explained that the land use committee will study the staff report, due to be released Tuesday June 2. On June 3 the committee will hold a meeting to prepare a recommendation for the board. An ad hoc MA board meeting to hold a vote on whether or not to recommend approval of the project has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 5, at 4 pm. The time and place is subject to change due to a possible scheduling conflict. Although members of the public are encouraged to attend one or both meetings further public comment about the project will not be heard.

With land use issues one of the main things the MA deals with, board member Tony Harbour asked the board to consider requiring the MA president to be a member of the land use committee. “Bill [Palladini] is extremely involved with land use issues and is among all of us one of our most informed land use people and is not currently a voting member of our committee, which is a shame,” said land use committee member Darlene Bierig. After much discussion, a motion was put on the table to elect Palladini as a voting member of the land use committee. It passed unanimously.

The next meeting of the MA is scheduled for Tuesday June 10, with a special ad hoc meeting on June 5 to vote on the recommendation that will be sent to MPC regarding the Miramar project.

Santa Barbara Retreat Speakers Set

Snagging former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (1995 – 2007), author of “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good” was the final step in a series of ground-breaking maneuvers that Montecito’s Mary Belle Snow performed to finalize the speakers’ list for the second annual Santa Barbara Retreat, beginning Friday May 30 and ending Sunday June 1 at Four Seasons Biltmore. Friday night’s other honoree is Ed Snider, founder of Comcast and recipient of the Anti-Defamation League’s Americanism Award. TV’s Alan Thicke (“Growing Pains”) emcees and Andy Granatelli will introduce Mr. Santorum.

The rest of the weekend promises to be a salve for disoriented conservatives and libertarians unhappy with the current crop of presidential candidates and unsure of where to go or what to do next. Featured speakers include senior writer for U.S. News & World Report Michael Barone, Civil Rights Institute founder (and MJ columnist) Ward Connerly, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, former Clinton advisor Dick Morris, Colorado Congressman and former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, radio talk show hosts Tammy Bruce and Dennis Prager, and a dozen others.

One of the most appealing elements of this retreat is the amount of face-time attendees are granted with some of the biggest names on the U.S. political scene.

Tickets are $350 per person. Contact Missy Woodward at 818-849-3470, ext. 213 or mwoodward@horowitzfreedomcenter.org for more information.