Land Use Committee Sees Plans for “Y”

Montecito Family Y representatives were in front of the Montecito Land Use Committee meeting on Tuesday presenting preliminary plans for a proposed remodel of the YMCA.

Finance Chair Clas Lensander began the presentation with a history of the Y in Montecito, stating that the facility, which opened on Santa Rosa Lane in 1966, has not been remodeled since 1986, when the pool and locker rooms were built. “We have a function to fill in the community and we want to fulfill that function in the future with an appropriate facility,” he said. He stated the buildings are not currently up to modern standards. “Our idea is to remodel it and make it better on the same footprint, with the exception of the preschool building,” he said, adding that the remodel is for current members, not an attempt to gain more members or preschool students.

Mark Kirkhart, lead architect with Design Arc explained that, “The Y has been bursting at the seams for a number of years. It’s challenging to have the kind of programming we want to have.” He presented the plans of the proposed project including an enhanced main building, a new preschool building, a natatorium with a new indoor pool, and a gymnasium to cover the current outdoor sports court on the 4.25-acre site.

Kirkhart went on to say the plan will cause one parking space to be lost, but said there are a total of 215 parking spaces available to Y members between the Y parking lot, 103 spaces in Manning Park, and 47 spaces on the Montecito Union School campus that are available after school hours. “We are not planning on putting any new outdoor lighting in,” Kirkhart said. A small parking lot will be added to the YMCA for nine spaces for staff and handicap parking, with a driveway to San Ysidro Road.

Landscape architect Lane Goodkind said he plans to use the natural character of the site with the use of mature oak and sycamore trees, restore grassland; he expects to plant drought tolerant native California grasses, and landscape elements have been added for kids, including slides on the slopes.

Tim Werner, YMCA capital committee chair, when asked for a dollar amount of what the remodel will cost, could not speculate, saying a final amount has yet to be determined because the plans are very preliminary. He said too that the YMCA will not close during construction.

At the meeting in support of the project were members of the MUS community, including superintendent Tammy Murphy, board president Brett Matthews, and board members Mary Morouse and Gwen Lurie. “We have had a long partnership with the Y, and this gives us opportunity to maintain that,” Murphy said. Other members of the community said they were supportive of having a gymnasium for their kids to play sports after dark.

One neighbor stated concern about the height of the building and increased traffic on Santa Rosa and San Ysidro Roads. “There is no question that the Y needs to be upgraded, but I think they should figure out where the money is coming from before they start making plans,” she said.

Members of the Land Use Committee board said they wanted to see a more residential feel to the buildings. “I’m concerned that it looks more commercial than residential,” said Tom Bollay. Committee member Dorinne Lee Johnson voiced concern over the added driveway on San Ysidro Road.

Committee member John Watson said he is concerned with an influx of members wanting to be members because of the low price. “With this degree of significant improvements, I have a hard time believing the use of the facility and the membership is not going to increase,” he said.

Land Use Chair David Kent said, “I’d like to see the plans fit more in line with the community.”

A discussion ensued regarding lack of public input on the proposed project, to which Lensander said they have reached out to neighbors. Over 120 notices were sent out to neighbors nearest the Y by Montecito Association executive director Victoria Greene, alerting them of the Land Use meeting and three neighbors came to listen to the presentation. The plans were seen by Montecito Board of Architectural Review last month, and a similar sentiment was had.

Kent urged the Y reps to reach out to the community further, and the matter will be discussed again at next week’s Montecito Association board meeting on Tuesday, June 14, at 4 pm.

Coral Casino Latest

Bill Reyner, chair of the Member Committee of the Coral Casino, will be in front of the Montecito Planning Commission June 22 requesting the commission look into allegations that Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts (TWHR) is in violation of the Coral Casino’s conditional use permit. “It’s crucial that those conditions be enforced in a practical way,” said attorney Derek Westen on behalf of the Member Committee, to the Montecito Association Land Use Committee on Tuesday.

Reyner said TWHR has been inconsistent with promises made to members prior to the 2007 remodel. The main issue is that Reyner, official spokesperson for the 515 members, alleges Ty Warner has made the Coral Casino a selling point to Biltmore Hotel guests and allowed them to use the club’s amenities at no cost. Guests of Coral Casino members, however, are required to pay $25 per day to use the facilities.

“TWHR obtained approval to make restorations to the Coral Casino, assuring the County, Club Members, and the public that it would reduce potential conflicts between hotel guests and Members and preserve the nature of the Club for its Members, not further commercialize it or change its character. Instead, after obtaining that approval, the Owner has increased hotel guest use, prevents Members from full use of the club, and uses intimidation and economic coercion to attempt to stifle Member objections to its practices,” the document filed with the county reads.

“I don’t want your support for our position,” Reyner said to the Land Use committee, “Rather I want you to support the integrity of the planning process.”

County staff has decided whether there is a reasonable argument to be made to MPC. The Montecito Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22, at 9 am.

Montage of Mermaids

The Think Tank Art Collective and Creative Women, a network of women in business are co-sponsoring an event at the DoubleTree to raise money for Girls Inc. The event, to be held Thursday June 23 from 5 pm to 7 pm, will be emceed by Paula Lopez.

“Montage of Mermaids,” as the event is called, features art and photography on display by Lindsey Mickelson and Elizabeth Harper, as well as live harp music performed by Rebekah. Lounge music by the “ADHDj” will entertain guests while wine from Carr winery is poured and cupcakes from Andersen’s Bakery are served. There will also be cheese and hors d'oeuvres sampling.

All proceeds from a silent auction and raffle will benefit Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, which provides afterschool and summer educational enrichment programs for girls.

“I am impressed and proud of Lindsey and Elizabeth for contributing their artistic energy to the Girls Inc. cause,” said Montecito and Santa Barbara business owner Marlo Tell, who owns Marlo’s Therapeutic & Sports Massage and founded Creative Women in 2009. She says her mission in starting the group was to foster an innovative atmosphere that encourages women of all ages and backgrounds to collaborate and excel in business and life, as well as participating in community events like “Montage of Mermaids.”

The event is also sponsored by the Think Tank Art Collective, a group of local photographers, painters, fashion designers and computer enthusiasts with a mission to share their work.

“We look forward to our first local art event, developed to showcase some of Santa Barbara’s most promising young talent,” says Julie Rose Menicucci, Spa Director at Fess Parker’s Spa del Mar, where the event is being held.

Tickets for the event are $20, available in advance at Spa del Mar, or for purchase by phone at 805-884-8540. Space is limited.

Crane Teacher Headed to Mexico

Joy Elizondo, Crane Country Day School’s upper school Spanish teacher, has been selected as a Summer Scholar by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Elizondo is one of 23 U.S. teachers and two graduate students to be selected from a national applicant pool to attend summer study opportunities supported by NEH, a federal agency that supports seminars and institutes at colleges, universities, and cultural institutions each summer so that teachers can study with experts in humanities disciplines. Elizondo will embark on a month-long study in Mexico City this summer.

Elizondo will travel with her husband and two young children to La Salle University in Mexico City to study “Dialogues in the Americas: Mexican Literature and Culture in Context.” Taught by U.S. and Mexican professors, the course combines seminar-style literature with site visits to national museums, author readings, film screenings and cultural events. She will also participate in “Mesoamerican Cultures and Their Histories: Focus on Oaxaca.”

“I am thankful for such a unique intellectual opportunity and hope to share my love of language and culture with my students. I think it is critically important for my students to be willing and able to communicate with their own families, friends or neighbors and to attain some degree of Mexican cultural and historical literacy,” Elizondo tells us.

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