(If you have something you think Montecito should know about, or wish to respond to something you read in the Journal, we want to hear from you. Please send all such correspondence to: Montecito Journal, Letters to the Editor, 1122 Coast Village Circle, Montecito, CA. 93108. You can also FAX such mail to: (805) 969-6654, or E-mail to tim@montecitojournal.net)

MUS Fifth-Graders in DC

From May 18 through the 23rd, nearly 80 of Montecito Union School’s 84 fifth-graders participated in the annual MUS field trip to Washington D.C. The attached photo shows a few of the kids plus our principal Ms Bergstrom reading your fine paper in front of the White House!

Melinda Werner

Montecito

Encroachment Policy Needed

I am replying to the Guest Editorial regarding "Encroachments" (MJ #14/19). I commend all of the organizations trying to make our community safe for all.

The Encroachment policy is desperately needed for those of us who walk East Valley Road and other roads in Montecito.

During my walks I encounter in the right-of-way: weeds, gravel, tree branches, palm fronds, untrimmed shrubs, ice plant and debris. Property owners must be reminded the right-of-way belongs to all of us, not just them.

You mention 25 mph speed limits. That is laughable; No one goes 25 or 35 or 45 mph. Our area is no longer a "semi rural environment." It's more like a mini Highway 101. Traffic is going so fast that if you do try to drive 35 mph you are immediately tailgated and at times rewarded with a hand gesture. I'm scared each time I retrieve mail from our East Valley Road mailbox. At times I have to hang on to my hat because of the rush of wind produced by the speeder.

Caltrans informed me that speed limits are set by the County. Perhaps we should sell our Speed Limits signs to an area that will need them.

Sincerely,

S. Suskin

Montecito

(Publisher's Note: When I would walk or bicycle to Montecito Union School from our home on Middle Road in the mid-1980s to the early ‘90s, cars were rarely a concern. But, during those years SUVs – bigger and higher off the ground than station wagons –became increasingly popular. In recent years, I have noticed that not only are vehicles bigger but that cars travel faster and even "honk" when they can't go past bikers, walkers, or the occasional stopped school bus. I guess there are lot more people trying to get nowhere faster. ~ TLB)

Leave Caruso Alone

As the owner of the house now on the corner of Eucalyptus Lane and South Jameson, built by my father in 1948 (using his G-1 loan) across the street from the Miramar Hotel, I strenuously protest the delay tactics being attempted at this critical time by self-appointed, misguided and self-important critics. What possible benefit to their fragile egos and our fragile neighborhood do they expect to achieve? Enough Already! Let Caruso get going. Barbara Parker Robinson

Montecito

(Publisher's Note: My guess is that what they “expect to achieve” is to squash the project. Many people have apparently become comfortable with the shambles that the Miramar property has become and believe an owner will simply continue to guard it while not being allowed to develop it. ~ TLB)

Get a Life

As a former resident of Montecito now in Santa Ynez, I can tell you that reading about the countless horrors Mr. Caruso is going through to rescue the Miramar property makes me so glad I moved. Will the people making their picayune objections be content to see that property lie vacant until it becomes even more of a blight. That will be the result of this stupid clamor. If I were Mr. Caruso, I'd pick up my marbles and leave. Then the naysayers will have that eyesore for the rest of their lives and they can move on to the next project they wish to ruin. As the saying goes," get a life." Ian Bernard

Santa Ynez

Do It or Screw It

Dear Mr. Carbajal,

As I emailed you recently, and firmly now believe, in my personal opinion the handling of the Caruso Miramar Hotel pending matter has become highly suspect.

The fact the Montecito Association has canceled both its special land-use committee meeting which was going to be held June 4, and another meeting the following day, can only lead me to believe there are ulterior motives present among the Montecito Association, the Keller group, and your own office.

Glaring inconsistencies aside, such as the fact that Montecito has lost 10 years of healthy taxes on this property, we have lost two major developers, and are about to lose the third, a man better suited than the first two in my educated opinion, a maker of miraculous, masterful monuments.

Just what – other than subversive negotiations and personal gain reasons – would cause any sane Supervisor or any legitimate members of the "Montecito Association" to let not one but three golden opportunities to resurrect the stinking corpse the Miramar has become and restore it to life, fall back into the grave?

What part of ‘we're all watching you’ is so difficult to fathom?

Tim Buckley reports in his Editorial (MJ #14/22) that "...After personally reviewing most of the 99 letters received by county administrators concerning the Miramar, we discovered that nearly half express significant complaints about the project."

That only makes me think Ms Keller and her cronies must by now have the worst case of writer's cramp ever.

I'm not being sarcastic when I say that, either.

Why?

Because not one single Montecitan I have spoken with has a single objection to the Caruso Miramar planned project, and moreover each is ready and anxious to have that project approved!

Thus, methinks there's more than just the Miramar rotten in Montecito.

As far as I'm concerned, Salud, it is time for you to drop this hot potato.

It is time for you (and the Montecito Association) to recuse yourselves entirely, and put the matter – Do it or screw it – up for a vote of the residents of Montecito.

If Tim Buckley is to be believed (and I see no reason to doubt him), nearly half of the 99 letters received "express significant complaints."

"Nearly" being the operative word.

Well Salud, I'm sorry, but in my book "nearly half" ain't half, nor is it the majority.

The rest of those letters – the majority – that do not "express significant complaints" are the letters in which I am most interested.

When I was a kid growing up in America some 60+ years ago, we had a funny little saying: majority rules.

You know what, Salud? To my way of thinking, it's time to get back to that funny little saying, and the Caruso Miramar Hotel project would be a really good place to begin.

Would you like to do something for me? For Montecito? For America?

Put the rights back in the Bill Of Rights and let the majority rule.

Do it, Salud.

Do the job we elected you to do.

Stick up for what's right! Do it!

Or stick up for what is wrong, and screw it.

Let your conscience be your guide. Verne Langdon

Montecito (Publisher's Note: To clarify last week’s editorial: I did notice nearly half expressed objections to parts of the project. Whether it was scale, construction, public access, water or height, the letters had questions objecting to some of the analysis done by Caruso Affiliates. According to Caruso, they have done all the necessary analysis and will be able to answer all the questions and/or complaints to the authors of the letters by the July 16 Montecito Planning Commission deadline. Although many complained about parts of the project they were still in support of building the Miramar Hotel. ~ TLB)

Voluntary Water Conservation

The news that the present demand for water in Montecito far exceeds the available supply available reminded me of the dire straits the community was in during the last drought. It put me in recall of the way our Mutual Water Company of 19 households, using one common well, responded at the time to the wide-spread crisis. We decided to voluntarily cooperate in conserving water. We were aware of the recommendation by horticulturists that lawns in this region need only half-an-hour of watering twice a week to flourish, and any more constituted waste. Each household signed up for a specific time on a specific day of the week to use sprinklers, to minimize demand on the well pump and maximize conservation of water.

During the present emergency, could the whole community, including each property owner, join together in a spirit of cooperation and conservation of our most important physical resource, and voluntarily reduce water use to reasonable amounts for landscaping? It would mean re-setting the automatic sprinklers I see and hear daily operating, rain or shine, for hours in many parts of Montecito to more reasonable frequencies and length of use.

Conserving water is both vitally necessary and the right thing to do. Maria Herold

Montecito (Publisher's Note: Over the course of the next few months, we will be doing a series of stories on water usage in Montecito. We expect to illustrate that water use has grown considerably faster than our population. ~ TLB)

What About Desalination

Given the potential of water shortage, two steps can be taken now to mitigate the impact of future developments:

1) Require the Miramar project to use water desalinization for some or all of its water needs. Given its beachfront location the Miramar could install a "RO" plant to produce potable water at a cost under $1,000,000 dollars (depending on storage management). We've done this in the Bahamas with excellent results. Adapting this suggestion would eliminate a major obstacle to its approval.

2) Require all new homes and buildings to incorporate a cistern to collect water from the rain. Now the rainfall on roads runs off to storm drains etc. Given the large area of a roof, significant amounts of water could be collected. The cistern could be incorporated as part of the landscape around the house. J Roger Morrison

Montecito

(Publisher’s note: Both suggestions are great ideas. Funny enough, cisterns were common in Montecito before the 1920s, when water was generally unavailable, or at best, unreliable – TLB)

Fuel or Food?

The choices being presented in the press are “Food or Fuel.” The real story is both “food and fuel."

Ethanol, a clean, renewable fuel that was supposed to save us from Arab oil (and has helped save Brazil) is now being blamed for a shortage of food that is causing high food prices and starvation. Should Santa Barbara County support the bio fuels and food processing plant that is being permitted?

Some information that seems to be lost in the “noise” may be worth a review:

Most grain-to-ethanol plants are in reality food processing plants that produce an equal amount of high-protein, high-fiber food, along with pure grain alcohol. That resulting distillers’ grain is better for nutrition since it has had the less useful starch converted to critical fuel. No one is starving for starch.

In our beginnings, most of mankind subsisted on range food and intense human labor, with evidence of widespread and repetitive famines. The harnessing of oxen, mules, horses, caribou and other animal power thousands of years ago allowed the food grown per person and the net food to the community to increase even though the animals consumed part of the food. Lasting into the first part of the 20th century, most societies needed 70 - 90% of their population to cultivate crops and care for animals to insure the availability of the still-poor food supplies.

With the coming of U.S.-produced petroleum fuels (an easy-to-use form of hydrogen), which powered tractors, combines, harvesters, coolers, electricity, irrigation and trucks to carry the food and the power for refrigeration, our nation became better fed, with a dramatic increase in life spans. Today less than 3% of the U.S. population now feeds the rest of the country and much of the world.

After our oil production peaked, but demand did not, our increasing consumption of petroleum-based fuels from other countries has caused a massive transfer of wealth to the unstable oil producers who have reported falling production. The resulting price escalation also resulted from growing demand in China, India, and a falling dollar.

Bio fuels have begun to be part of the solution, acting as a slight brake, but a brake, estimated at 5-15% less cost for fuel used in making steel, fueling farm equipment, reducing payments to farmers for not farming (farm subsidies were reduced more than $8 billion in 2007 due to ethanol), transporting the $4 box of Corn Flakes (that has about 10 cents worth of corn in it), transporting the fuel to communities and the gasoline and diesel to your local station.

Without the expenditure of alternative energy for our advanced farming, food costs will go up more and we will have actual shortages. We need to use some crops and non-crop biomass to feed the tractors, trucks, trains, planes and cars to travel to the grocery store.

The run-up in petroleum prices affects America’s farmers not just with increased fuel prices, but also every other farming input such as fertilizers, and pesticides which are both made from petroleum; crops are harvested and processed with fossil energy. Fundamentally the world of oil has changed, and not for the better for America. The president was correct when he stated last year that America is being held hostage by an oil addiction.

The new bio fuels plants are producing better cattle, hog and poultry food than straight grains. Livestock are healthier, gain weight faster, and use less antibiotics and hormones. Distillers’ grains bread tastes good.

Perhaps an analogy is to think of the food-eating oxen of yore, which helped grow more food and the grain-using donkey caravans or dog sleds, also eating some food, but resulting in a net food increase for our forefathers.

The price of fossil fuels, and hence the price and availability of food will increase at even a higher rate without the benefit of alternative, renewable energy sources in the USA and around the world. Ethanol is not the problem; it is part of a proactive solution for both “food and fuel.”

None of us should be misled by a cartoon of a baby’s hunger being caused by a tank of ethanol. The reality is different. With more bio fuels and new cellulosic processes there can be fewer hungry kids plus fuel for your car.

Dave Baskett

Santa Barbara (Publisher's Note: Maybe so but wouldn't it be wise to research a more productive way to achieve biofuel than to use ones that we currently use for food? Oil producing algae seems to be taking off in Colorado, shouldn't we explore all the options before using our (or the world’s - including exports) to feed our consumption of fuel? Ultimately, it is conservation that will secure our future. ~ TLB)