August 6 likely MPC D-Day for Miramar

On Wednesday August 6, Rick Caruso and his team will be back before the Montecito Planning Commission. A decision whether or not to approve the controversial project is expected at the hearing, following a 10½-hour meeting on July 16. Over fifty people spoke at that hearing, and despite a plea from Caruso for an immediate decision, the meeting – and a possible decision – was continued to August 6. Issues the commissioners need to examine closely include traffic and parking, compatibility with the community plan, flooding issues and Oak Creek, water, and most importantly the lack of a full EIR. Commissioners had asked that the project be looked at once more by MBAR, and although the plans were originally scheduled to be heard by MBAR at its July 28 meeting, the item was pulled.

The August 6 meeting will be televised live on Channel 20 beginning at 9 am.

Short List for Third Fire Station Gets Shorter

Montecito Fire District is awaiting a study to determine a short list of suitable parcels for its third station. The study, expected to be released in about two weeks, includes consideration of public comment from a public workshop held in May. Fire Chief Kevin Wallace tells us AMEC, the consultant firm working on the study, is “working feverishly” to finish the document in time for the district’s board meeting and another public workshop tentatively scheduled for August 18.

According to Wallace, the study will list the top three or four parcels that have been deemed suitable as a location for a third fire station within the Montecito Fire District. In the draft study released earlier this year, two parcels owned by resident Palmer Jackson were at the top of the list. The study concluded that the parcel listed as “Palmer Jackson East,” located at 2500 East Valley Road meets all the necessary “essential and desirable criteria,” with the exception of having a “willing seller.” The second most suitable parcel is referred to as “Palmer Jackson West”; it too meets most essential and desirable criteria. Line-of-sight issues and the property’s relative proximity to several neighborhoods are the main concerns. Wallace tells us Jackson is still considered an unwilling seller at this time.

The study also looked at The Valley Club, a private golf course at 1901 East Valley Road as a possible site; this was an idea brought up by two residents at the last workshop. Wallace said he does not believe The Valley Club site will make it on the short list of parcels.

So, what’s next for property owners? The MFD Board of Directors will decide whether to accept the study, and then decide which specific parcels it will zero in on. “The Board will probably focus on a number [of parcels], maybe two to four, and then the rest of the people on the list will be able to breathe easier,” Chief Wallace opined. At that point the Board may recommend more intense study on each of the final contenders.

In other MFD news, Wallace informs us the District is welcoming three new firefighters. Jordan Zeitsoff, Ben Hauser, and Sarah Marshall, along with six recruits from Santa Barbara City Fire, are graduating from a combined fire academy on Thursday July 31. The graduates’ achievements will be celebrated with family, friends and members of the board in a ceremony in Santa Barbara. Wallace pointed out that one of the graduating firefighters is female. “This is a new era,” he said proudly. Montecito Journal will feature photos from the graduation ceremony in next week’s issue.

Birnam Wood Receives MBAR Final Approval

At its hearing on Monday July 28 the Montecito Board of Architectural Review (MBAR) gave final approval for several additions to the Birnam Wood Golf Course property. The structures to be added include a new storage building, tennis shop and golf academy building. The plan also calls for the addition of square footage to existing structures including the clubhouse and pro shop. Landscaping and lighting were looked at, and the lighting was determined to be virtually invisible to neighbors.

As part of the low-scale additions to the property, a new patio containing a grill and fireplace was approved. MBAR last saw the plans in October of 2007, and asked that the chimney height be increased. “They wanted us to make the chimney more of an architectural element,” said architect Theip Cung.

Montecito Country Club Files Plan

Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts has submitted plans with the City of Santa Barbara for the renovation of the Montecito Country Club golf course and tennis courts. Suggested improvements include renovation of four existing tennis courts, a revised parking plan, new subterranean cart barn, new irrigation system and landscaping, along with the much anticipated renovation of the golf course. Additionally, plans were submitted to the County for the rerouting of the entrance drive, which is a County issue, separate from plans submitted to the City.

Ty Warner has partnered with renowned golfer and golf course designer Jack Nicklaus to create a “Signature Course” on the property. Warner’s vision is to make Montecito Country Club golf course one of the most prestigious private courses on the West Coast, yet maintain the social feel that has historically defined the club. The decision to use Nicklaus came after interviewing a number of golf course designers and soliciting the feedback of the Montecito Country Club membership.

According to Ty Warner Community Relations Manager Erinn Lynch, the updated Jack Nicklaus Signature Course plan calls for a balancing of slope angles to create a more “organic undulation of topography.” A new irrigation system and improved drainage will decrease water usage and provide a more natural flow of water pooling and runoff, thus making the course more environmentally friendly. The plan calls for “pristine, white sand bunkers,” natural landscaping, increased yardage, and a newly designed first tee which will showcase the ocean view. In addition, all grading will be balanced on site, she said.

Nicklaus has been designing golf courses for over three decades, and his design team includes his son and son-in-law, design associates, agronomists, industry consultants, and experts in golf course construction and marketing. The company, Nicklaus Design, has designed 282 golf courses open for play in 28 countries and 36 states. A “Signature” course designation indicates that Jack Nicklaus has worked on it personally.

“Perhaps two of the main objectives in our design,” Nicklaus has said, “will be to soften the slopes, so members will have a better chance of keeping the ball in play and thus making the golf experience more enjoyable. The other goal is to modernize Montecito from a length perspective. The course currently plays just over 6,200 yards from the back tees, and although our canvas to work on is only about 105 acres, we have found ways – within the property – to stretch the course to perhaps just over 6,500 yards.”

In addition to the course renovation, Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts plans to submit, within sixty days, an interior remodel to the clubhouse, offering the membership improved amenities and dining. It is anticipated that all approvals will take approximately ten to twelve months, with a construction schedule of approximately 14 months.

“Montecito is a spectacular site with wonderful views and a rich tradition. Our goal is to enhance its future by providing the membership a golf course they will enjoy and consider a great source of pride,” said Nicklaus.

In Business: Arvizu Contracting

Steve Arvizu of Arvizu Contracting has worked on many homes in Montecito and Santa Barbara over the last seven years, mostly remodeling kitchens and bathrooms.

Recently he received a request from a loyal client, Florence Burgess, asking him to install a walk-in bathtub after she found it difficult to get in and out of her traditional tub. “It was very dangerous for me to get out of the tub,” she said. After searching for a tub that would fit her bathroom, Arvizu had one shipped only to find it was “God-awful ugly,” he said. So he took it apart and custom tiled it into the wall in Burgess’s bathroom, complete with decorative trim to match the rest of the space. “Before I got my hands on it, it looked like a washing machine!” he laughed.

Arvizu, along with his Creative Assistant Morgan Tempus, tell us they are the only contractors in town providing creative custom installations for the typically unattractive walk-in tubs. “A lot of clients could benefit from these,” Arvizu suggested. Walk-in tubs are typically sold to disabled or elderly people who are at a greater risk of slipping while entering and exiting a normal tub. Arvizu said he searched for the best version available, finally finding one with the features he was looking for, only to eventually disassemble it to make it more attractive in his clients’ homes.

For more information call 805-637-0694 or email