Archive » June 12, 2008
Letters to the Editor
By Community Letters
Double Energy Twins
I have seen Judi and Shari Zucker power walking the streets of Montecito for years and I have always admired their commitment. They just radiate energy and well-being. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article about the "Double Energy Twins" (MJ #14/23). It's fun to read about people who are committed to inspiring others about living a healthy lifestyle. I've already bought their book and tried several of the recipes and they are excellent. I also really enjoyed reading their uplifting and informative chapters on health and nutrition. It's just the kick start I needed to change my diet and exercise patterns. What a wonderful book. Kudos to Judi and Shari.
Water Rates Going Up
Calling all water customer...please plan to attend the Public Water Meeting Thursday June 19, 6:30 pm at Montecito Union School Auditorium.
Join your neighbors and speak up! Let the board know that their proposed plan to raise water rates is Not Fair and Not Equal and will not work. If any plan is to succeed and achieve conservation it must be embraced by the entire community and must require all customers to make significant changes. This plan will once again raise water rates most significantly for single-family homeowners (The 15th or 16th increase in 20 years, with no positive results). Once again other user groups will slide by with little or no incentive to cut back their usage.
If we do not speak up then we will deserve what we get.
(Publisher's Note: If California and/or Montecito is truly in need of water, it would be productive to allow some sort of tax incentive for installing new water systems that significantly cut back on water usage without causing harm to our foliage. Some new sprinkler systems use almost 75 percent less water and still adequately water plants. The government has pushed and backed the solar movement; the water conservation movement should be backed next. ~TLB)
A Democratic Dilemma
There were two items in the recent MJ issue (MJ #14/23) that suggest the same idea. The idea being that a question such as whether or not to approve Mr. Caruso's Miramar project should be decided by putting it to a vote by the people of Montecito. Mr. Jaffe calls it “true democracy” in his guest editorial, and Mr. Langdon calls it “majority rule” in his letter to the editor titled “Do it or Screw it”.
Have we somehow been transported to Athens in the 5th century BC? Where do we get this idea that the local population can tell an individual what he can or can not do with his property? Do we think this is the “American way”?
America is not a democracy, as that term is classically defined. America is a constitutional republic. At the federal level we use majority vote to decide upon what individuals will be our legislators. Laws are not voted on directly by the people, they are voted on by the legislature. The judicial branch interprets these laws and can strike them down if determined to be inconsistent with our Constitution.
The Founders were well aware of the dangers and evils that can result from pure democracy. They had studied the experience of the Athenians and knew that majority rule, unchecked by a constitution that protects the rights of the individual (the fundamental minority), easily degenerates into mob rule, to the point that a majority could vote that an individual be put to death, as happened to Socrates. The Founders were not about to pay the high price that they did to remove the tyranny of the monarchy only to install a tyranny of the majority.
To these writers I say: Be careful what you ask for. An idea might seem convenient for the particular situation you have in front of you right now, but consider that in the long term, the wrong end of that idea could be pointed at you.
(Publisher's Note: Well said, Nick. People often forget that we are not a democracy in the true sense of the word but a constitutional republic governed by powers explicitly restrained by that constitution. If we solely relied on a majority vote (the proverbial two wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner) I can't imagine where we would be today. Property owners should be “allowed” to do whatever regulations say they can. The problem with developers, however, is usually they require variations from what is legally allowed and must negotiate those changes with county planners. Once those negotiations have reached a settlement, or not, then perhaps a vote – with a very limited right of appeal – might be in order. ~ TLB)
Hardly a Threat
Travis Armstrong, Editorial Page Editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press, completely miss-characterized Rick Caruso's so-called "ultimatum" on the Miramar proposal. I have studied this project from its beginning 18 months ago as Chairman of the Montecito Association's Land Use Committee. His choice of wording, i.e. "ultimatum", "threatening", "putting a gun to our heads," is completely wrong and disrespectful of the process being used in reviewing Miramar for the Montecito community.
Maybe Travis is not used to a developer who first asks our community what it would like to see done with the Miramar relic! Well, in at least ten meetings with us, we have seen a series of changes to the original proposal, mostly in response to concerns raised in our meetings. Caruso has held many other community meetings as well. After all of these meetings and changes, it was not surprising to hear Mr. Caruso say that, in effect, he had run out ways to make still more changes...certainly, major ones for sure.
Unfortunately, Travis's statements have now been picked up and used by others. I, for one, am sorry he misled the community so badly.
(Ed. note: That’s what happens when someone whose beat is centered in downtown Santa Barbara tries to write about a community he knows little about. Stick to Montecito Journal for the most accurate news about Montecito! – TLB)
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