(If you have something you think Montecito should know about, or wish to respond to something you read in the Journal, we want to hear from you. Please send all such correspondence to: Montecito Journal, Letters to the Editor, 1206 Coast Village Circle, Montecito, CA 93108, FAX it to us at 805-969-6654 or via e-mail to jim@montecitojournal.net.)

A Unified Montecito

Thanks for your thoughtful editorial (“Down With The Hermosillo Plan” MJ # 17/36), and especially your wise call for a unified Montecito position opposing the beach exit from the 101 north at Hermosillo. I do sympathize with Montecito Association (MA) president Richard Nordlund feeling disheartened when he works long volunteer hours for the community and finds his efforts are misunderstood. And, in the gracious spirit of unity you have called for in the editorial, I do forgive him for saying in his reply to my letter that I had "completely distorted the facts." While that sounds like accusing me of lying, which is something I abhor, I believe distorting facts is counter-productive when there is a record to support the truth. So, if I may be permitted to defend my good character, and at the same time report some promising developments, I offer the following:

Fighting to retain the character of the lower village calls for dealing with difficult realities. Caltrans has a statewide policy of no left-lane 101 exits. They have made this unequivocally clear. We would all be happy if the left lane off-ramp were to remain, and we should argue for that all the way to the governor, but Caltrans has rejected it. Given that, what then is MA's position to protect Coast Village Road from the chaos of the 101 exit? On the record, none. The fallback option cited in September last year and this August's board meetings was the Hermosillo exit. To be fair to President Nordlund, in a phone call after my letter was published in the Journal, he told me he was shocked when Bob Short said that the Transportation Committee had decided the Hermosillo exit was the best option for all of Montecito. We were shocked, too, because Mr. Short had promised us that he would not support the Hermosillo exit.

But, in spite of this, there is hope that the lower village might not be thrown under the buses, trucks, RVs and lines of cars peeling off the freeway. The breakthrough options come as a result of singular efforts made by residents representing the Coast Village Road neighborhoods. These efforts began in February when J'Amy Brown and Martha Siegel with the assistance of Supervisor Salud Carbajal asked Caltrans to give representatives of the residents of the lower village a presentation of the latest off-ramp options. At the end of the meeting, the standing-room-only crowd that packed the Montecito Community Hall unanimously opposed the Hermosillo exit. Mr. Nordlund did not arrange this meeting. In July, Martha, Sybil Rosen and J'Amy invited Dick Nordlund to come to a meeting being held at Sybil's home. So, Mr. Nordlund did not arrange this meeting either. At a follow-up meeting with Caltrans, Santa Barbara County officials and MA, which Sybil was allowed to attend, Caltrans said they were including in the EIR two other options called Modified F and M which included an alternative to the Hermosillo exit.

The MA Transportation Committee isn't supporting this alternative because of the lengthy construction time and cost of bridges at Carrillo and Hot Springs. Yes, no doubt the Hermosillo exit would be easier to push through in the short term. But it will be a drastically bad lifelong decision for the lower village.

We need to get it right. There won't be another chance to go back and fix the disaster.

Sheena Berwick

Montecito

(Editor’s note: It seems to us the best solution is one that has been proposed: extending what is now the Hermosillo exit all the way to Cabrillo-Hot Springs, where it will feed into the existing roundabout. That is the only way – short of leaving the left-hand Cabrillo exit alone – that the lower village will the spared. – J.B.)

An Open Letter to SBCC

The following letter was sent to Members of the Board of the Santa Barbara City College and Foundation, and forwarded on to the Montecito Journal.

“Dear members of these distinguished Boards:

Background:

Previously, I sent all members of the Board a Letter that gave some information as to my profile and that of the Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation (Barker Foundation).

I find it fulfilling to serve on several boards in our great community; Barker Foundation, Montecito Fire Protection District (MFPD), Santa Barbara Alzheimer’s Association, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, and the Murphy Automobile Museum. A consequence of holding a Board position is having to ask difficult questions. But, that is my job!

Using experiences from those Boards and others that I have served previously, has helped me comprehend the myriad complexities that a Board Member needs to understand in order to function in an orderly and logical manner. The same is true in managing a business.

I am not here to criticize, refute, debate, analyze, make offers, or take them away.

My mission is to carry out the mission of Donald and Coeta Barker, protect their integrity and preserve their money.

Admittedly, I have little knowledge of the inner workings of Santa Barbara City College.

Even though I have served on the Barker Foundation Board for nine years, going back to Peter MacDougall’s administration at SBCC, my job is to carry out the wishes that were once those of Coeta Barker when she was alive. Coeta relegated those obligations to her Trustees upon her passing.

The Direction of the Barker Foundation is now in the hands of myself and four other Trustees.

Concerns:

Being a Board member of the MFPD for the past nine years, I find the learning curve immensely steep, even today. Like SBCC, there are so many issues that involve land use, employees, State, Federal, and Local law, Licensing, contracts, agreements, emergencies, and a plethora of other topics. To assist the MFPD Board in all that we contend with and adjudicate, we employ Price, Postel & Parma as legal consul due to their depth in legal matters armed with 140 attorneys.

Because of the many factors, it is beyond my comprehension how new Trustees could have the base needed to make such an action as the one that was made in “closed session” to terminate the tenure of Dr. Andreea Serban.

Also, Dr. Serban has a contract that needs to be satisfied by both parties. By the time that contract is finalized and another President is chosen to serve, as much as $1,000,000 will be spent. Knowing additional budget cuts are looming, it is difficult for me to justify the college spending resources if not necessary. Perhaps a better solution would have been to allow Dr. Serban complete her contract through June of 2014, saving needed dollars and avoiding turmoil.

Other consequences:

SBCC has been a very well respected college. It got that way due to its great leadership, including Dr. Serban’s presidency. When searching for a replacement for Dr. Serban, why would any applicant feel comfortable applying, knowing the action the Board had taken on Dr. Serban?

Fundraising:

A major function of any President is to be an ambassador for the organization. People talk. My affiliation with SBCC with respect to the Barker Foundation has given me ties to other Foundations and individuals that give to SBCC. It is my understanding that there are several Foundations and major individuals that have removed their support of the College due to the current Board’s action against Dr. Serban. If true, the consequence may reach tens of millions of dollars over time.

Manner:

How the termination of Dr. Serban was executed was the most egregious act.

I have disagreements with my Fire Chief almost daily. Exchanges are meant to be constructive and usually are. Those disagreements never have stirred my need to fire the Chief. He is doing a good job!

Dr. Serban’s career has been destroyed by your Board. There surely were disagreements with how she managed the college, but could you have looked at other remedies?

No matter what side you come from on this issue, I see a college in turmoil. Our future is in the hands of our youth. We that are in positions of authority and policy, need to very careful of our actions so that youth can succeed.

Respectfully submitted,”

Dana Newquist

Montecito

A Search for Healthy Food

What Montecito really needs with these vacant buildings around the Vons shopping center is a health-food restaurant, i.e., a Sojourner, Natural Cafe or Zookers type restaurant. When my wife and I want to get a healthy dinner here in Montecito, there really is nowhere to go that offers the kinds of menu choices of the restaurants I spoke of above. If I had the capital I would go for it, but I don't. However, I certainly hope someone will one of these days, because I can't see how this would not be successful. I think where the old Tsunami and Kai restaurant were would be an excellent spot.

Here’s to your health.

M. Kerrigan

Montecito

(Editor’s note: Not a bad idea, Mr. Kerrigan, especially since Montecito Natural Foods is right next door – TLB)

Jobs in the Twilight Zone

On September 8, I listened to an un-rerun-forgettable tele-prompted speech beamed directly from the twilight zone. The Dear Leader said several times that Congress needs to "...pass this bill right away..." so businesses can grow and thrive, so rich people like Warren Buffet can pay as much tax as his secretary, so $1 trillion can be cut from federal spending by Christmas, so people in South Korea can buy Fords and GM autos (what if the only vehicle they were allowed to purchase is the Chevy Volt?) .

He kept referring to "...this bill..." but it seems that Google hadn't posted any sites which actually contained the bill. How can Congress be asked to pass something that doesn't yet exist? Are we following a Pied Piper of Hamlin into a dimension, not only of sight and sound, but also of mind...? Is that the "signpost" up ahead? Are we hoping and changing according to a script that only Rod Serling could have imagined?

Dale Lowdermilk

Montecito

(Editor’s note: Keep guessing, Dale, you’re bound to come up with the answer, eventually; when you do, of course, we expect you’ll enlighten us – TLB)

Good News for Pharmacy Oak

The good news: the oak tree behind the Pharmacy is getting more leaves by the day. Yay! Thanks for printing my letter (“Loves The New Leaves” MJ 17_35). I got lots of encouragement, as we all love that tree. Lots of people were so nice and cheerful and encouraging to me for writing.

On another subject, though, I think we need to change a few things to keep Montecito the way we love it.

Helicopters, leaf blowers, lawn mowers and edgers rule. All those people who wrote all those rules that keep Montecito rural did not predict helicopters. (How could they?) They didn't predict gas-powered leaf blowers, or gas-powered lawnmowers and edgers either. Noise and gasoline pollution. They could not predict. How lovely is this: the Japanese used palm fronds to rake leaves, the most beautiful sound in the world. The Mexican palm fronds were the rakes. I will never forget the sound.

One gas-powered leaf blower in one hour pollutes more than one car driving 300 miles, and that doesn't count the noise… that is just the air pollution. Don't believe me? Google it. Not many people really know that. But that is true. Leaf blowers and lawnmowers are somehow exempt from the pollution restrictions.

I think at the very least, helicopters need to have a higher height limit. I see them going along the coastline, and I swear they will take out a flock of pelicans. I live next door to Oprah, and they are so hideously loud, and so perilously low, I am sure they do take out many nests of our migratory hooded orioles in the palm trees. There are a great many nests of hooded orioles in Oprah's palm trees. She and her staff work with me and try to protect them in every way.

The paparazzi helicopters scare the daylights out of my chickens. This is noise and wind pollution that should not be permitted. If they are not allowed to land, why are they allowed to hover 60 feet off the ground? You have no idea how loud and destructive they are. Branches and bird nests are thrust to the ground; it is revolting, and is a huge disturbance to our treasured wildlife all over Montecito; in addition the 40-acre preserve next to us. What do you think a helicopter does to monarch butterflies? They have not one shred of a chance of survival with that velocity above them when they are clinging to the eucalyptus leaves. Real estate agents may be guilty as well. We desperately need height restrictions for helicopters here.

The most recent Reality Show (called a wedding) had the biggest flood of helicopters and probably the worst impact on our local wildlife. This is prime nesting season for our local migratory birds as well as the birds who stay here. Those helicopters blew baby birds out of their nests, and with their nest. I saw them on the ground, with the mothers desperately trying to feed their babies who were not fully feathered.

I was completely revolted and disgusted that our representatives did not protect our village from this onslaught. It was disgusting. Who in the heck should be in charge of restricting this kind of thing? Are we powerless? We have no way to protect ourselves and our nature against this kind of thing?

I am astonished.

At the wedding itself, not one of our many florists, not one of our local party rentals, not one of our local tent people, musicians, none were used; nothing was local. Everything came from L.A. I believe had somebody local been involved, the destruction could have been mitigated.

I am outraged. And the noise pollution created by the Kardashian wedding is an embarrassment to our community. Our quiet and rural community was totally ravaged by the celebrity onslaught allowed and encouraged by our local politicians.

Shame. and Shame on the Sheriff. Proud of yourself? You should be ashamed of yourself.

For what reason was a residence allowed to be rented for a week – a week – to be the “set” for a reality show? If there isn't a law, let's make one. Soon.

We need to get some restrictions in place; in my opinion, or we will lose our lovely atmosphere, our rural ambience, and most of all, our nature and our peace and quiet. Quiet is the new luxury. We sure lost it during the K wedding.

I hope we get some laws in place, and prevent neighbors from renting out to reality shows for the day, or even worse, for the week.

The whole thing made me sick.

Penelope Bianchi

Montecito

(Editor’s note: I believe helicopters are restricted to 100 feet; we feel your pain, but as for new restrictions and regulations, all we can say is be careful what you wish for – TLB)

Thanks Again

Just wanted to say thank you for supporting the arts (“Bach 2 Rock Live” Coming & Going MJ # 17_36).

It’s people and businesses like you that make Montecito a great place to live.

Patrik Maiani

Montecito Music & Arts

Prayers May Help

To Mrs. Penelope Bianchi and the thousands of tree lovers in Montecito:

I join you in your concern for the oak tree that has been mishandled at the Pharmacy, Mr. Gunner, the owner, assured me he followed all the recommendations made by the county. Nevertheless, whoever was hired to protect the tree did not do a good job. So, what you have is a handsome ancient tree on the verge of death, struggling to make a recovery. My suggestions were made (to prune the tree hard and give it a massive deep feeding) in order to increase its chances to recover. This species of oak has a very hard time recovering without a functioning leaf system. Remember: it’s an evergreen oak, but because miscalculations were made – too much of the root system was destroyed – the tree defoliated, a typical error.

Now, there is still a root system that is viable, but if the tree were reduced in size, the chances of recovery would be greater.

That was the premise of my diagnosis and cure for this disaster, which, I might add, my company – TLC Trees – has done hundreds of times, with great success. But, this is not my tree to work on. I was only hoping that those in charge would take some action to increase its chance of revival. Mrs. Bianchi believes praying will be enough, and I hope she is right. And if she is, I will be happy to sub-contract her for a few projects I’m working on.

Pruning trees is easy; making sick and injured trees recover is very challenging and complicated. And I only wish it was as easy as praying. As of now, I’m using this new-fangled invention of experience and science in my work. Go to my site: tlctrees.com, to see the results of what forty years experience can achieve.

Gene Tyburn

Montecito

Thanks For The Write-up

Just wanted you to know how moved and pleased I am in the write-up you did a couple of weeks ago. Thank you so very much for keeping the presence of small businesses like mine in the news so the community remembers we are here for them!

Thank you and all at the Journal for your great work.

Kim Phillips

Maison K