Archive » August 7, 2008
Letters to the Editor
By Community Letters
Price is “Outta Here”
I agree with Mr. Crail's observation (MJ #14/29) re the gas station at the corner of Olive Mill and CVR regarding the shabbiness of it. Reflecting on the article, I realized that is probably why I drive right past it to go to the 'other ' gas station on CVR.
I was thinking, also, that Mr. Price’s undone tile repair on the roof was simply an 'Outta here' attitude.
Thanks for your letter Mr. Crail.
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
What do you suppose happened to the prominent part-time resident of Montecito on her way to the recent forums that she had so "...strongly urge[d] the Montecito Association to do what it did in 1999...hold town hall forums where impartial experts explain all the pros and cons to the community, and all questions are answered"?
Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part that the founder of the Homeowners Defense Fund – which was constructively engaged in defending communities like Montecito from housing mandates from state and county governments – and its supporters would be in favor of incorporation, the continuation and culmination of the good work that the Montecito Association began years ago towards "home rule," the ultimate protection for us.
Montecito already has its own Fire, Water and Sewer Departments with trustees-directors directly elected by all of us. Why not an elected Village Council?
Instead, from Forum I to Forum III, in spite of virtually every doubt and fear of all of us being satisfactory addressed by the panelists, her group in their questions, comments and conduct consistently displayed a bias against the "rest of us" directly electing our own "Village of Montecito" councilmen and councilwomen, should we opt for incorporation.
Her apparent frustration with the Forums and those who might disagree with her group surfaced in the final minutes of the last Forum when she rose to make totally unsupported charges that those (never named) who advocate incorporation want to abolish the Montecito Planning Commission, the Montecito Board of Architectural Review, the Montecito Association and virtually everything else we have worked hard to achieve in our march to "home rule."
I did rise to challenge her that nothing could be further from the truth, and to chide her group for their obvious display of bad faith throughout the forums and in factually inaccurate statements made by several of them even prior to the Forums in letters to your newspaper.
Please help us get the facts and challenge any who play fast and loose with the facts whether at public forums or in your columns and letters.
Parker G. Montgomery
(Editor’s note: we strive to “get the facts and challenge” those that “play fast and loose with the facts,” whenever we spot them; unfortunately, we are not always successful and are often charged with bias when we do... but we’ll continue doing what we can. – TLB)
Who Will be Next?
Just read that Tony Rose will be closing shop...one more local, long-time business leaving. Soon there will be no more 'mom and pop' stores here, or elsewhere!
Jean v W
(Publisher's Note: It's always sad to see familiar faces leave but hopefully another local business will takes its place; what would really be a shame if these little stores get bought up by larger chain stores like Starbucks et a.l ~TLB)
Dear Montecito Planning Commissioners
I want to thank you for your service on the Montecito Planning Commission, for having the courage to put the pressure on pause and take the time to ask real questions about the Caruso plans, questions as mundane and seemingly trivial as: where does the square footage come from to justify your gross lot size, because in Parcel Six it looks like you over-claimed by forty thousand square feet, and where did the square footage go in your net floor area, because the Code is clear: basements that are used exclusively for storage can be excluded, but basements with kitchens and employee lockers cannot (and the Commissioners might ask, why did County staff choose to ignore the plain language of the Code?) and how can square footage in a lobby that people walk through be deemed a corridor and thus excluded, with no defining walls or appurtenances? (If I walk through my living room to get to my dining room, is that a corridor that can be excluded from my home's net floor area?) And, where does the square footage that is deemed Assembly for the purpose of calculating parking requirements come from, because it looks like you're under-parked?
These were your plain questions at the last hearing and neither Staff nor the Caruso team had answers.
The import is clear: the figures are fudged, with the County Staff's connivance, to allow the Caruso plan to squeak by under the 25% FAR requirement, when the plain truth is: This project is simply too big for the lot.
This same game is played with the so-called Building 44, which any fool can see is four buildings with a common roof. Why is that important? Because if it's four buildings and not one, then the proportion of single-story six-key structures is too low. Again, County staff has allowed Caruso's fancy footwork to evade the clear requirements of the Community Plan. Ditto height, ditto setbacks, ditto ditto ditto.
What's the deal with Water and Sanitation? The Water District announces publicly that they can't serve; they're whisked off to the woodshed and come back chastened to say they can, though they don't know how. Same with Sanitation: the boss says we have questions Caruso hasn't answered, and the day before the hearing, suddenly everything's fine, though the nice lady in the pink suit couldn't say how much new pumping would be required or who's going to pay for it or whether the capacity increase would require discussion about a regional solution. But everything's going to be fine. Just say yes.
What the heck's going on here is the question this citizen wants to know,
Why is County Staff eager to accept the conclusions of the Caruso's paid consultants and unwilling to look at alternative points of view? How can they say that bringing in 10,000 net cubic yards of fill, using a thousand dump trucks according to one of the Caruso engineers, won't have an environmental impact? Where did the projected numbers of employees come from, numbers that defy simple logic and current hotel best practices? Why did Flood Control dismiss the concerns of its own staff about the potential flood impacts on Oak Creek? Why did the first two planners at the County, both of whom said there was so much pressure they couldn't do their jobs, get removed from the project, one fired and escorted from the building?
There are State laws, County codes, and a Community plan that are supposed to operate in situations like this; they exist not to facilitate the private dreams and schemes of private equity, but to guard the public good. They are being ignored.
While everyone tacitly acknowledges that the buck may not stop here at the Montecito Planning Commission, here it rests for the time being, on your desk and in your lap.
I end where I began: I congratulate the Commissioners for being the speed bump in this head-long rush to build what will be the biggest development ever in Montecito, for taking the time to ask the detailed questions that expose the flaws in this baldly contrived and scarcely vetted approach.
Public pressure can be an ugly thing. Don't let the buttons and the slogans sway you. Don't be fooled by "neighborhood associations" that have no members, no meetings, no minutes, and no existence beyond a computer letterhead.
Know that you have the support of lots of plain citizens like us, who are grateful that you have given up so much of your time to focus on the public good.
Please approve a plan to rebuild the Miramar - no one here wants that stinking mess to remain – but make sure it's a plan that conforms with State law, with County code, and with the Montecito Community Plan. Thank you.
(Publisher's Note: Our guess is that the only real problem Caruso has in store is the magnitude and height of the main building, which we too worried is simply too tall . Other than that, I think the MPC will approve this project. ~TLB)
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