Keep the Montage Moving

DIVINE ANSWER: After almost seven years of planning and persuasion, Westmont College finally heard the answer they’d been praying for. At the Monday night meeting of the Montecito Board of Architectural Review (MBAR), the college’s Campus Master Plan Update was rendered a very encouraging review by the nearly unanimous board. With the MBAR’s positive comments in hand, the college can now move forward to the Montecito Planning Commission, where a two-day special hearing on the project is set for October 16 and October 18.


In May, the 300,000-square-foot redesign became locked in a quagmire between the college’s needs and the neighbors’ concerns. Facing an onslaught of unfavorable comments from citizens and decision-makers, the college took 60 days off to regroup.


Last week, with the help of architects David Van Hoy and Ken Radtkey and landscape planner Susan Van Atta, Westmont unveiled a fresh approach. The new environmentally friendly design better emphasizes the unique campus setting, a former private estate, and makes innovative use of the historic garden atmosphere. The design team’s efforts did not go unnoticed or unheralded at the MBAR meeting. Boardmember and architect Marsha Zilles summed up the majority opinion when she said, “You have turned this plan. You have supplied solutions for your needs and those of the community and the environment. It is beautiful, and I look forward to seeing it, walking through it, and being in it.”

It wasn’t entirely a love fest, though. MBAR member Don Nulty expressed some concern about the size and height of the college’s multipurpose chapel and commented he was not “totally on board with it.” But Zilles respectfully disagreed and sang praises of the 49-foot-tall multipurpose auditorium/chapel. She said, “I did not find the chapel overpowering. It is a signature building and it cannot be required not to stand out, especially with all the re-working we have see here.” While no formal vote was taken, MBAR’s generally positive comments about the roads, grading, design, entrance, noise, and building design will be forwarded to the Montecito Planning Commission for consideration at their October 16 and 18 hearings. And, while some of Westmont’s prayers have been answered, expect traffic and square footage to get more devoted attention then.

FROM N-P TO PR: Camillia Cohee, the former News-Press reporter assigned to the Montecito beat, hit the “new job” jackpot this week when she landed a high-level public relations slot at the Chumash Resort and Casino in Santa Ynez. While Cohee was well known and liked during her Montecito assignments, she may be best remembered for her now infamous reporting of Rob Lowe’s address. That caused News-Press owner Wendy McCaw to send letters of reprimand to Cohee and her superiors, which in turned caused the mass exodus of editors, reporters, and other employees who left the paper fearing that the editorial ethics had been breached.

Amidst the ensuing flap at the News-Press, Cohee cut her loses and left the paper. In August, she placed her bet on Santa Barbara City Councilman Brian Barnwell, and the two were married. Now, with the announcement of her lucrative new PR job, our former Montecito scribe appears to be on a winning roll, with the good odds for a fortuitous future!

montecito winemaker.jpg FROM WINE TO WATER: Winemaker Richard Shaikewitz (pictured) is featured in this month’s Wine Destination Magazine as part of a Montecito vintner team. The group, Los Cinco Locos, is described as being responsible for concocting some remarkably good wines and, this week, they were once again crushing the grapes at their Montecito Pepper Lane winery.

But sommelier Shaikewitz is so busy that he may have to put down his syrah when he takes a seat at the Montecito Water District Board in December. Intoxicated by the community spirit, Shaikewitz also has agreed to serve as the volunteer head of the Butterfly Beach Homeowners Association. And for those taking notes, he remains secretary of Montecito Association. Yet despite his civic activity, Shaikewitz plans to continue his role as quality inspector and chief-sipper with Los Cinco Locos.

MONTECITO NOTABLE QUOTABLES: “Montecito is changing faster than many people realize. Not all change is bad, but not all change is progress,” said Susan Keller, the chair of the Montecito Association’s Land Use Committee. Keller was explaining the difficulty of finding balance between individual property rights, development desires, and community protection

MONTECITO MEANDERINGS: Congratulations to John Venable, who has been selected as Montecito Citizen of the Year, and Barry Siegel, who takes home the 2006 Volunteer of the Year Award. These two notable and longtime community volunteers will be honored at the Montecito Association Beautification Day on November 4.…

Last Thursday, a bicyclist was hit by a car in front of the library and transported to Cottage Hospital. This area remains dangerously dicey for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists alike and some think a Ty Warner-inspired traffic calming median might be the perfect solution at this risky site!….

You can’t think “red head” without thinking of Leslie Ridley-Tree, and so when her birthday club got together this month to celebrate the Lady with Spark, Anne Towbes, Arlyn Goldsby, Lee Luria, Sue Colin, Alex Nourse, and Jill Bellowe donned red wigs and red feather boas, tickling Montecito’s colorful philanthropist with delight!….

And, in what we hope is the last lowdown on Rob Lowe, we hear it was planning commissioner and attorney Michael Cooney, who was coaxed by Supervisor Salud Carbajal to work on an agreement between sparring Montecito titans Lowe and Fred Gluck. It turns out that some offending trees were the only real bone of contention growing between the soon-to-be neighbors, but it took Cooney, if you will, to see the trees through the forest!

(Montecito is a column dedicated to the people, places, and politics of Montecito. Readers’ interests define the column, so please let us hear from you by commenting in the box below or contacting J’Amy Brown at . The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Independent.

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