Close Call

This is certainly a different column than I thought I’d be writing. We (Voices of Montecito) thought Caruso Affiliated would be gone as of Monday at 2 pm because County planners wouldn’t agree to what they had already agreed. But the Miramar Hotel development will move forward in a form acceptable to Caruso and his associates. For some, I suspect, that will be a disappointment, but for the vast majority of Montecito residents, this will be a huge relief. It also helps establish the principle that a local democratic process can work in our town.

Democracy will always bring disappointment to the minority but there is no other way to run this town (or any other democratic institution) and we should always be prepared to live with the results. And if you think that a true democracy wouldn’t have Montecito waiting on decisions from County officials, but would instead entail an actual vote by Montecito Residents – a referendum perhaps – then I couldn’t agree more. And while we really appreciate the leadership Salud Carbajal and County staffers demonstrated, I don’t know why we continue to put up with a non-resident government when we now seem committed to community forums and consensus.

It hasn’t always been so, however, so for those of us who have watched the process over the years, seeing the possibility of consensus is exciting. Everyone’s views count, everyone’s vote counts, no hanging chads for us. The closer we get to this ideal the better. We’ve never asked for more and won’t ever endorse less.

Of course it remains to be seen what happens at the Montecito Planning Commission meeting now scheduled for July 16, and I suspect it will be packed with stakeholders of every brand. Ultimately, this will likely become a question of how fierce the opposition intends to be. Their attorney has already implied that if they don't get their way a lawsuit is imminent. Their concept must be: “If you can't get the votes, get the judges,” because certainly the judges know better than the people. Coral Casino members remember that tactic well.

On a Different Note

Switching subjects and as a complete non-sequitur, I am going to ask your forbearance for the rest of this column. My daughter Emma, a graduating senior from Santa Barbara High School, was asked to give a speech at a benefit for Life Chronicles held last week. As you may know, Life Chronicles makes video recordings of the last thoughts, wishes and memories of the dying. I thought her speech offered perspective to hectic and divisive times and was worth quoting as a reminder of the important things we all share.

“The recordings that Life Chronicles makes allow people in a life crisis to leave behind their advice and most cherished memories. The tapings that we do not only help those who are being taped and the ones who will eventually be left behind, they also help people like me who are actually doing the taping. I have learned some of the best life lessons from the people that I have taped. I learned from Janice not to hold back and to just live life to the fullest because you never know what will happen. I learned from Frankie and Tap that it takes two people to get through a tough situation. Frankie has a hard time doing things physically so what she can’t do, Tap helps her with. And Tap has a hard time remembering so Frankie does the remembering for him. And Father Virgil, he taught me the most important lesson that I have learned: do not take anyone for granted and enjoy every moment you have with loved ones.”

It just seemed important to remind myself about priorities in the midst of a very busy, sometimes angry world. I hope you agree.