Miramar Blame Game: Ty Warner is blaming the Montecito Association and others for his decision to sell the Miramar hotel property, but association prez Bob Collector calls it “a little absurd” to point the finger at a homeowners’ group that hasn’t even seen Warner’s plans.
Besides, Collector told me, “He’s had the word out trying to sell (the Miramar) since the third week in August. Greg Rice (Warner’s right-hand-man) has been looking for buyers.
“We find it a little absurd that a fellow as smart as Ty Warner would make a multimillion-dollar decision based on what a homeowners’ association might or might not do about a plan we haven’t even seen.”
Rice, in a letter to Montecitans last week, accused the Montecito Association leadership and other decision-makers of an “abuse of power” in dealing with other Warner’s projects, resulting in long delays and “skyrocketing costs due to the ‘arbitrary conditions of approval’ placed on our projects.” Due to what Rice called “tangible bias,” he said, “it would be better for us to step aside and let somebody else complete the renovation of the Miramar.”
Warner paid $43 million for the closed and partly razed seaside resort. Collector insisted that the group had never opposed any of Warner’s projects, although it did want conditions set on them. “We’ve been pretty supportive of what he’s done.” He said his group was “blindsided” by Warner’s decision and was “aghast” that the Montecito group would be “singled out” as the reason for a dollars-and-cents decision by a savvy businessman. “We’re just volunteers. We were all excited” when Warner announced that he was buying the Miramar, and have never made any negative comments about it, Collector said. Rice denies that he was previously trying to market the Miramar.
Jimmy’s to be a Museum: Tipped by word on the street, I confirmed that the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is buying Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens restaurant as a museum to honor the heritage of its East Canon Perdido neighborhood, including Chinese and Japanese history there. The Trust plans to go into escrow within a few weeks to buy the property at 126 E. Canon Perdido St. for $3.1 million, the price agreed upon with owner Tommy Chung and his family, according to Jarrell Jackman, Trust executive director. The Trust plans to seek low-interest loans from the city, as well as local nonprofits such as the Hutton Foundation and Santa Barbara Foundation, as a bridge to acquire the property until the state comes up with the money, Jackman said. Such a museum is called for as part of El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historical Park, he said.
As an example of how real estate prices in that area are escalating, the property was appraised five years ago at $1 million, Jackman said. “It’s possible” that the Trust will lease the Jimmy’s property to a restaurant for a few years pending the museum development, helping pay the mortgage at the same time, he said. It would probably be a Chinese restaurant whose owner would agree to having historic photos and other memorabilia displayed, he said.
Don’t Fence Me In: That chain-link fence with green plastic mesh that the News-Press put up around its parking lots last weekend isn’t permitted under city regulations and must be removed, city community development director Paul Casey told me Monday. “We don’t allow that kind of fencing in the El Pueblo Viejo district except on construction sites,” and the News-Press doesn’t have a building permit for any current work, Casey said. He said he planned to contact the paper’s management Monday and explain that the fence must be removed. The paper would have to design an approved-style fence and go through proper channels, the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission, Casey said. So far, it’s not clear why the fence was erected, although some speculate that it was aimed at blocking pro-union signs criticizing owner Wendy McCaw in employees’ cars from the passing public.
No Room at the N-P: The News-Press TV listing magazine in the Sunday edition now has deleted local cable Channels 17 and 21 from the listings, reports David Pritchett. These are the community-access TV channels from Santa Barbara Channels, the local nonprofit organization for community-access TV. “Apparently, the News-Press‘ excuse for this is that they do not have room on the page to make the listings fit, so they dropped both of the channels, 17 and 21, even though a week and more ago they did have room on the page.
Anyone half awake, though, might surmise that they are just angry that SB Channels TV has shown a series of video shows, by local producers, that document the demise of the newspaper and the various rallies and events where the unionized employees and public comment about all that. The most recent coverage was the vigil event and lite demonstration held in front of the Biltmore hotel on November 11. If one considers TV listings to be news, this is yet another example of how the opinion stance of the newspaper has interfered with the news content, by deliberately deleting news they do not like.”
Roberts Hospitalized: Jerry Roberts, former News-Press top editor who quit in July, is hospitalized at the UC San Francisco Medical Center after weekend emergency surgery to remove his spleen and gall bladder, friends reported. “He’s doing much better” and is expected to be released later this week, said Scott Hadly, former N-P reporter who also resigned. Roberts was due to be among recent and present News-Press newsroom employees honored at an Independent Local Heroes luncheon Thursday.
Fashion Talent Needed: Boys 1-12 years old are needed to appear in a fashion catalog shoot in Santa Barbara. “All races, all nationalities.” E-mail a photo taken within the past month, with full name, age, weight, height, hair and eye color, date of birth, address, and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop the information off at 1805 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Suite B. Also needed are males 30-50, “all sizes, colors, and nationalities.”