Archive » June 3, 2008
Letters to the Editor
By Community Letters
Let’s Just Keep It Small
As a Montecito resident and homeowner for the past 34 years, I have noticed many changes involving our community. There is one thought that remains constant with the majority of Montecito residents and that is to maintain the semi-rural quality of our close-knit community. We have the Montecito Community Plan, the Montecito Planning Commission, the Montecito Board of Architectural Review. Also the Montecito Association, Land Use Committee, Beautification Committee, Village Fourth, etc. Let us preserve what is dear to us and preserve the rural feeling away from the hustle and bustle and the divisiveness of cityhood.
Cityhood will give us limited income with insurmountable new costs and liabilities. Were the Montecito community to incorporate, the new city would assume responsibility for the following municipal services: general government including legislative and administrative functions (management, legal, fiscal and ministerial administration), law enforcement including police protection, traffic control and accident investigation (the latter would be limited to city streets, while the CHP would continue jurisdiction over highways 101 and 192), land use including planning, zoning and building inspection, maintenance of streets and roads, including routine safety, storm and special maintenance, parks and recreation services including the assumption of maintenance responsibilities for Manning Park, a 21-acre community park situated within the subject area.
Expanding into cityhood will usually involve the following staff:
Legislative: 5 council members
General administration: 8 positions:
1 city administrator/clerk
1 deputy city clerk
1 administrative assistant
1 administrative secretary
2 clerk typists
Fiscal administration: 4 positions
1 finance director
1 senior accountant clerk
2 account clerks
4 Legal services: legal staff and/or contract legal services with a municipal law firm.
Other staffing requirements that must be funded: fringe benefits, supplies, space rental, communications, utilities, conference/travel, annual audit, elections, non-salary expenses.
With cityhood, we will also be saddled with staffing for: law enforcement, traffic control and accident investigation, animal control, land management services (planning land use regulations and building inspection), street and road construction and maintenance, parks and recreation, street lighting, street sweeping.
As a city, Montecito could have a shortfall of income.
Solution: increase the sales tax; increase utility taxes; convert residential properties to commercial (once a precedent is in effect, then the cumulative factor takes over). This could be a disaster to our semi-rural community.
Why further complicate our lives? Let well enough alone. It is not broken. Why try to fix it? Let us remain a quiet and unobtrusive semi- rural community.
(Publisher's Note: We don’t know how accurate or critical your listed requirements are, but early fiscal analysis shows that Montecito could pay for itself if it were incorporated (as a village), of course with litigation aside. The Miramar, if ever built, would significantly change that by adding almost a million dollars in tax revenue. But legal costs are an unknown factor that could certainly put a strain on Montecito. The question must be: how do other wealthy incorporated areas deal with lawsuits? ~ TLB)
Keep On Camp Fed
Ward Connerly’s latest (“Welcome To Camp Fed” Part II MJ # 14/25) is a wonderful article and, as I am the scholarship chair of the Santa Barbara High School Alumni Association, which gives 32 scholarships a year to graduates of our school, I can only say: keep up the analysis and your efforts in this regard.
I have so seldom been in agreement with you on your issues...but this one is a unity platform if I've ever seen one!
Thanks, Laura Wilson
I very much appreciated Lynda Millner's description of our garden (MJ #14/26); one of the four gardens that were on the CAMA “Hidden Gardens of Montecito” tour.
Unfortunately, she attributed our garden to Laurie and John Tilson; and the Tilsons garden's description to my husband, Adam, and me.
As flattering as the descriptions were...I would appreciate a correction. Perhaps the Tilsons would, too...they are very different from each other; and each very personal to us.
P.S. I think we are jinxed in the Journal. In 2001, we won a Montecito Beautiful Award for our house and garden. The picture in the Journal was of a totally different house...at another address, that had been nominated but did not win. With our address under the picture.
Montecito (Publisher's Note: Aargh, we hate when that happens; all I can say is we depend upon the accuracy of our field correspondents and most of the time they get it right, but mistakes happen; we’re sorry for the foul-ups – TLB)
Common Sense On Coast Village Road
Although the proposed project at the 76 gas station has many serious and fatal flaws, there are a few that seem to stand out more than others. The first fatal flaw is the height of this monster. Anyone would be hard pressed to find someone that actually prefers the height of this nearly 40 feet (including the turret) building over a shorter version. Even Mrs. Leona Murphy, the owner of the Coldwell Banker building next door, stated publicly at the Montecito Association meeting a few months ago, that although she is for a new building on that site, that she does wish that it was shorter.
The other first fatal flaw is the water issue. The possession of a "will serve" letter is meaningless per California Supreme Court because one has to prove a reliable supply of long term water in order to satisfy the CEQA law before project approval. The City never identified any source of water. By the way, your paper constantly reminds us that Montecito is out of water. The “will serve” letter was issued with wildly inaccurate water use figures, Montecito Water has stated the use will increase 500%. Is that "will serve" letter even valid? The City can't sell Montecito enough water without creating the same problem for itself.
The other first fatal flaw is the solar issue. Santa Barbara's own City laws, including State law, protects neighboring properties’ rights to solar access. At the proposed height of this building and it's proximity to it's neighbors, it will shade existing and potential future structures for nearby neighbors and buildings. This building will prevent our solar panels from receiving adequate sunlight to work properly.
The other first fatal flaw is going from 4 driveways down to 1 driveway. This spells gridlock. Instead of having four different ways in or out and access via commercial Coast Village Road, this whole problem has shifted to a residential street whereby traffic will be backed up in two directions as cars attempt to enter and exit this sole driveway. That intersection is dangerous enough! If the driveway were on Coast Village Road, as originally proposed, a vehicle entering or exiting would never have to cross an opposing lane of traffic, hence no gridlock.
As you can see, there are many issues with this project that need to be addressed. The above only touches on the tip of the iceberg. I think we are all smart enough to realize that our choices are not (just A or B) to accept this enormous building that shocked most people when the story poles went up or to accept a 24-hour gas station. This location does not have freeway visibility and will not sustain a 24-hour gas station or even get approved for that matter.
State and County representatives have stated in writing that there is no mandate to remove the underground tanks at this location. To remove the tanks and build a 24-hour gas station to recoup his investment is merely a fear tactic. With what gas costs now, why do anything?
This project can easily be lowered. The first story is 14 feet alone, which cannot be the shortest building of it's kind or as financially feasible as a shorter building. So why not build it shorter? Who could argue with that? The building does not have to be this tall. We can ask for it to be lowered to preserve the character of our community.
On July 15th at 2 pm, let's all ask the City Council to please lower this building to a reasonable height, two story or 30 feet maximum to keep the "village" in Coast Village Road and still let the developer make his profit. After doing a story height analysis of Coast Village Road from street level, we found that the staff and developer’s conclusions were remarkably different from reality. The vast majority are one story from the street level, far fewer are two stories and the only 3 story building is the historic Montecito Inn, and the 2 four-story buildings are on flag lots set back in to the hillside dramatically far from the street.
Hope to see you all at the Santa Barbara City Hall July 15th, 2 pm, City Council hearing.
Montecito Resident (Publisher's Note: We were not able to verify whether or not State and County representatives have stated in writing that there is no mandate to remove the underground tanks at this location because we have not seen that paperwork. ~TLB)
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