The Village’s Colliding Icebergs Have Metled Due to Cupid’s Warming Arrows
It’s Valentine’s Day and those collision-causing, community-issue icebergs that floated so hazardously around Montecito this past winter have all but disappeared — melted away, we suspect, by a wave of well-placed heart warming arrows from adorable Cupid’s sling.
As reported Monday on Montage, Supervisor Salud Carbajal shot an early Valentine to Montecito Association Vice President Jack Overall, tapping him to fill the empty seat on the Montecito Planning Commission. Overall (pictured) has lived in Montecito for 19 years, served on the board of the MA for nearly a decade, and has had an application on file for an MPC seat since it’s inception in 2002.
During his community service time on the Association’s board, Overall was elected twice as vice-president, once as treasurer, was seated on the organization’s powerful executive committee too many times to count, and turned down the presidency repeatedly. In January, Overall was elected again to MA’s board for a fourth (non consecutive) three-year term, a position he will relinquishes when seated on the MPC on February 21.
Demonstrating a variety of leadership skills, Overall was appointed as the association’s delegate to both the 101 Stakeholders Advisory Committee and to the county’s complex Zoning Ordinance Reformatting Project (ZORP) — a study group that successfully engineered the retention of Montecito’s historic Article IV zoning ordnance. Additionally, during the past year, Overall has served as MA’s point person on the Westmont Expansion Study Team, and he has worked closely with Carbajal on a review of Montecito’s Board of Architectural Review (MBAR) applications and MBAR’s submittal requirements.
Overall, a UC Berkeley grad, studied business economics and has built and sold three successful businesses — one in publishing, a second in printing, and a third in real estate management. (Ironically, long before their MA relationship, Overall sold one of his businesses to incoming MA Prez Bill Palladini, who Overall later nominated for the MA board). Overall says, however, it is not business experience, but his familiarity with the intricacies of Montecito land use planning that will be key for his new role on the Montecito Planning Commission.
“My experience working with the community, working with Planning and Development, and working with the community plan are my strongest assets for this position,” he explained. The community, Montage hears, endorsed Overall’s skills and sent a ground swell of explicit Valentines to Carbajal, favoring Overall’s appointment.
KISS AND TELL: Among the more interesting Overall approvals came from Mary Belle Snow, a leader of Voices of Montecito (VOM), the newly formed planning process “watchdog” group that has openly growled about the appearance of cronyism between MA and the MPC. The property-rights-partial organization supported a MPC candidate of their own, J.W Colin, but, in the end, Snow said the group did not oppose the more seasoned Overall.
“There were a number of good candidates, and we had some meetings with Jack and think he is a good choice. We have no objections,” Snow said, perhaps softened by a Carbajal Valentine of her own. This past week the Supervisor asked the First District’s Chief Diplomatic Cupid, Michael Cooney, to initiate a review of Montecito’s complex land use planning process, an agenda item dear to the hearts of VOM. Carbajal, however, was quick to point out that Cooney’s review was not the “Blue Ribbon Panel” sought by VOM at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, but, instead, just an very informal look-see.
“This is just a first step to see what the issues are. This review stems from dialogue with many groups — I have heard from the Montecito Association, the Voices of Montecito, and the Homeowners Defense Fund. I have listened to my constituents and I have directed Michael Cooney to touch base within the broader community dynamic and assess what the issues are, if there are any issues,” Carbajal explained. “This review might lead to other things, but I don’t want to get too far ahead — I don’t want to prejudge. Right now I have only asked Michael to embark on an informal investigation, to get some differing impressions about the process and to make an assessment of where we are now.”
Carbajal said Cooney’s review will take several weeks and Cooney said he expects his report to be long on insider knowledge, but short on recommendations. “I will pass whatever information I get on to Salud and he can decide what to do,” Cooney said, with just the correct sprinkling of objectivity.
YOU’RE PURR-FECT! “I think we have just exactly who we want for this property,” beamed Steve Traxler (pictured at the Miramar), a longtime neighborhood protectionist, who has been known for fighting for the residential quality of the Miramar beach neighborhood. After last Friday’s meeting with Rick Caruso, the Miramar Hotel’s new owner, Traxler was feeling very positive.
“He’s not ‘the developer’ — he’s the guy next door and we are his neighbors. Hello Neighbor!” Traxler exclaimed. Traxler met with Caruso along with two other nearby Miramar neighbors Mike DeGruy and Mike Ladado. Traxler said Caruso discussed some possible revisions to the currently approved Schrager plan, but the three locals saw no blinding red flags. Traxler said the next step will be to quickly set up a more extended Miramar neighborhood meeting with Caruso, and Traxler is enthusiastic to make the introduction.
“We all left saying, ‘This is a professional guy who knows what he is doing.’ He’s a real pro with a passion for the property,” Traxler said. “With Caruso it is not about flipping properties, he is in this for the long haul — not 10 years, but 40 or 50 years.” Traxler went on to say he believes Caruso sees this property as “unique in all of California and that is the way he is treating it. It’s about the property for him — Caruso’s eyes light up when he talks about the Miramar — it’s all about passion, and he’s excited,” Traxler continued, ending with what Montage could only recognize as a Valentine wish: “God bless him. He cares what we care about: the neighborhood and this temple property.”
NO VALENTINE FOR MONTAGE? If you want to give Caruso a belated Valentine bon mot of your own, he will be attending a public meet-and-greet reception this Friday at Montecito Hall, 1469 East Valley Road at 4 p.m. Montage understands the Montecito Association is hosting a 3 p.m. exclusive and “private” pre-reception for local decision makers.
Montage, as you know, is notoriously un-private so we didn’t get the coveted secret nod, as media was nixed. Undaunted, we promise to have our nose to the glass, where we understand we might have the company of some MPC commissioners, fearing the too private and off-the-record meeting with a future development-presenter. It could smell a tad un-seemly.
HIS HEART’S IN THE RIGHT PLACE: Richard Gunner, the new owner of the commercial corner on East Valley Road (Tom’s Pharmacy) is starting to talk to locals about some future ideas for the site. Montage will reveal the plot soon, but here’s a hint: Look for pedestrian walkways combined with old world Montecito historical charm. Gunner has a home in Montecito and even went to college with MPC Comish Claire Gottsdanker. Montage hears Gunner understands our love of semi-rural so we will keep you posted for Montage, of course, will be the first to reveal all.
DO THEY EXPECT THIS TO BE A HOT ONE? The Montecito Water District will hold public hearing on proposed revisions to water rates and charges on February 20 at 2 p.m. at the Montecito Fire District, at 595 San Ysidro Road. Bring your own fire hose and drink water.
FOPR YOUR CALENDAR: Today, Wednesday, February 14, Casa del Herrero welcomes designer Bunny Williams’ lecture and lunch, 10 am, $125, 565-5653 for last minute openings.…
Tomorrow, Thursday, February 15, Westmont Downtown, four college professors will discuss Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, at the University Club, 1332 Santa Barbara Street, 5:30 p.m., limited seating, on a first-come basis…. Tuesday, February 20, Board of Supervisors Hearing on Westmont’s appeal of the MPC decision…
Sunday, February 25, 5 p.m. Sarah House Black Tie Oscar Party. Click here for more info…
Friday, March 30, Andy Granatelli will be honored by The David Horowitz Freedom Center and look for Tom DeLay to be in attendance, click here for info for more information.