Montecito Update

by Kelly Mahan

Roundabout Meeting Next Week

Next Wednesday, August 29, Montecito residents are encouraged to attend a community meeting and open house to learn more about two roundabouts that are slated to be built in Montecito.

The more widely discussed roundabout project is slated for the corner of Olive Mill Road and Coast Village Road, and will include a northbound exit and southbound entrance to Highway 101. The lesser-known project, which many Hedgerow neighbors have voiced concern about, places a roundabout at the corner of San Ysidro Road and North Jameson Lane, and includes a northbound entrance and southbound exit from Highway 101. The two projects are being considered “parallel projects” to the Highway 101 widening.

Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) has been working closely with staff from both the City of Santa Barbara and County of Santa Barbara to continue progress on these projects, and while the Olive Mill roundabout has been in the works since that time, the new roundabout at San Ysidro Road was only deemed necessary after it was determined the intersection at San Ysidro and North Jameson fell short on meeting the level of service required by the County. A number of alternatives were considered for both sides of the San Ysidro Road bridge, including roundabouts at both intersections on San Ysidro (one near the Miramar and one at North Jameson), as well as alternatives showing various combinations of all-way stops, traffic lights, and roundabouts.

The recommendation of evaluators was a combination of a roundabout at the north intersections and all-way-stop-control at the south intersections. According to County reps, this configuration meets County and Montecito Community Plan level of service requirements, addresses potential backups on the freeway off-ramps, provides continuity to the regional frontage road system with Olive Mill and Coast Village Road, minimizes footprint and impacts, and improves pedestrian and bicycle access through the interchange.

Both roundabouts are in the preliminary design phase with no firm dates on design completion or construction.

The Community Meeting and Open House is scheduled for Wednesday, August 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at Chase Palm Park Center, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd. For more information about the meeting, contact Walter Rubalcava, County Project manager, at Wrebalc@cosbpw.net.

Candidates Announced for November Election

Earlier this week, five local residents announced their candidacy for November’s upcoming election in which Montecito residents will be asked to fill three seats on the Montecito Water District (MWD) Board of Directors and two seats on the Montecito Sanitary District (MSD) Board of Directors. Calling themselves “the Montecito and Summerland Water Security Team,” the slate of candidates includes Woody Barrettand Dana Newquist(both running for MSD), and Cori Hayman, Ken Coates, and Brian Goebel(all three running for MWD).

The slate of candidates has built a platform on several key points, including major improvements in water infrastructure and wastewater management strategies, collaboration between local water districts including the Montecito Sanitary District and the Summerland Sanitary District and between the Montecito Water District and Montecito Sanitary District, conservation, recycled water, and groundwater management.

According to the candidates, the current drought crisis warrants support of major improvements in water infrastructure and wastewater management strategies. “Water security focuses on diversification or our water portfolio, and that means smartly harvesting and managing every drop of water on this side of the mountain,” said Coates, the head of the Water Security Team. “Water diversification includes pursuing an agreement with the City of Santa Barbara for desalinated water, a process that has progressed slowly because of missteps in the past. Cooperation here can be beneficial both to the City with lower costs and provide water security for the Montecito and Summerland communities. The current plan relies too much on imported state water, leaving the community at risk, especially during a record-breaking drought,” he said.

The Montecito Water District also serves Summerland, and Goebel, a candidate for the MWD, has close ties to both communities and noted the Summerland Sanitary District is exploring the idea of using recycled water to recharge groundwater. “Regional cooperation between agencies is key to ensuring water security,” he said.

The group also sees a major opportunity in recycled water. “Recycled water offers huge potential for not just landscaping needs, but can also be treated sufficiently to a level where it could be used to recharge groundwater supplies, which means a guaranteed built-in local supply,” said Barrett, a professional geologist and small business owner who raised his children in Montecito. He questions the current Board of the Sanitary District’s plan to build a new $3,500,000 building for four employees of the district. “I believe the money would be better spent on state-of-the-art equipment to clean the wastewater to a higher level, making it available to indirect potable use as recycled water for landscaping and/or groundwater recharge.”

“No one should confuse the pilot project currently planned by the Montecito Sanitary District as actual support for recycled water. It’s a small-scope, stand-alone project that will only water the district’s own lawn,” said Newquist, a former Montecito Fire Protection District director, running for the Sanitary District. “We waste up to 500,000 gallons of water a day by dumping partially treated sewage water just offshore at Butterfly Beach. During a prolonged, severe drought, this is hardly environmentally friendly. We can recycle that water, preserve our beautiful environmental resources, and bolster our water supply.”

The group says groundwater management is key to ensuring a stable water supply. “Groundwater is a key component of our water portfolio supply, and it’s the only reliable local supply. We must protect our groundwater basin. We now have a great opportunity to recharge it with ‘gold standard’ recycled water that has been subjected to the highest level of cleaning. This would help make well-owners less vulnerable to groundwater depletion,” said Hayman, who is running for MWD’s Board. Hayman has a background in regulatory law and has been an active community advocate as a board member on the Montecito Association.

The slate of candidates sees the future of water security for the area in diversifying the current water supply portfolio by accelerating the desalination agreement timeline with the City of Santa Barbara, pursuing groundwater management and recharge by implementing recycled water on a significant scale, conservation, and partnering with neighboring agencies.

“We are in a new era where very drop of water counts,” said Coates. “Continued severe drought and the vulnerability we experienced after the debris flow demand that we pursue a resilient, secure water future for Montecito and Summerland. The time for us to build the water and sanitary districts of the future is now.”

The candidates will vie for two seats on the Montecito Sanitary District Board currently held by incumbents Judy Ishkanianand Bob Williams. Three seats are up for grabs at Montecito Water District; incumbent Dick Shaikewitz is running for re-election. Directors Doug Morganand Sam Fryeare stepping down from the board as their terms are coming to a close.

We’ll have much more on the elections as they approach.

Sheriff’s Blotter

Friday, 17 August, 2 pm– Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of Hot Springs Trailhead on a report of a suspicious vehicle that was parked near the trailhead since August 13. The solo male occupant was last seen walking up the trailhead. The vehicle was registered to Wayne Habell, of Newhall, who was listed as an at-risk missing person out of Los Angeles County.

Sheriff’s deputies, the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit and Santa Barbara Search and Rescue team members responded and began an extensive search of the area. The search teams were unable to locate Mr. Habell due to darkness, and the search was called off until the morning.

At 6 pm on August 18, a male decedent was located in the canyon. The body was taken to the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office for further investigation. The identity of the decedent was later determined to be 43-year-old Wayne Stuart Habell. The cause and manner of death was a suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Habell was a 13-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and had gone missing earlier in the week.

 

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