Checklist for New Development

MBAR Creates New Design Review Checklist

While most of Montecito seems quietly tucked away for a long winter’s nap, Montecito Board of Architectural Review (MBAR) Chair Tony Spann has been sitting fireside this week industriously making his list and checking it twice! Spann’s list, however, is not a leftover for a tardy Santa, but, rather, a brand new, soon-to-be unveiled checklist for MBAR applicants navigating Montecito’s design review process.

Spann (pictured) said the list, which puts into order requirements already mandated by Montecito’s Architectural Design Guidelines and Development Standards, is expected to be put into use by mid-January in an effort to improve the process. mm%20tony%20spann.jpg He said the new project review schedule was developed in response to citizen comments, concerns, and confusion and it may become a template for use by other county architectural review boards as well.

The MBAR came into existence in March 2003, created by the county to be the design review arm of the Montecito Planning Commission. The advisory board is appointed by Supervisor Salud Carbajal and is made up of professional architects and Montecito community members.

As the MBAR entered its fourth year of existence, Spann said he felt it was time to assess the process and retool it as needed. Spann said he and Steve Chase, from County Planning and Development, created the initial checklist concept over six months ago. (Chase has since departed the county and now works as planning director of the city of Goleta.)

Spann reported the checklist has undergone a long “tweaking” process. It has been reviewed by MBAR members Don Nulty and Ray Ketzel and by Montecito Planning Commissioners Bob Bierig, Claire Gottsdanker, and Bob Meghreblian. County Planning’s Dianne Meester Black and Julie Harris also took a look at it, along with the Building Safety Department’s front-desk maestro Petra Leyva. The Montecito Association also reviewed the document and indicated enthusiastic approval by donating the planning consultant services of Victoria Greene to craft the final version for the county’s use.

While some locals may groan at the idea of a checklist, seeing it as expanded bureaucratic burden, Spann said the submittal prerequisites are not changing. “There is nothing new,” he explained. “The requirements are just being put in a checklist form. They’re just getting more organized, but they remain the same as stated in the Montecito Architectural Design Guidelines. We are trying to level the playing field. We’ll be looking for more consistent information up front and we are trying to create a more uniform application experience.”

He added that even as a final draft is being written, the document will remain open to changes and suggestions. “I’d like to have a soft opening in January and distribute 20 or 30 copies of it to people attending MBAR meetings and using the process. I want end-user and public input on this,” Spann said. With that done, it may finally be the checkered flag for this very checked out checklist!

MONTECITO SAFARI DEFINED: We hear several of Oprah Winfrey’s new Montecito gal-pals are traveling with her for the opening of her new girls school in Africa. These ladies, we hear, provided some funding for Oprah’s dream school. While this sounds like worthwhile cause, our new jet setters are confusing the local lingo. A Montecito Safari used to mean sitting at the Coral Casino hoping the Beach Boys’ crooner Bruce Johnston would stroll by humming a few bars of “Surfin’ Safari,” which delighted all the “California Girls.”

THE NEW COUCH WON’T BE BLUE SUEDE: Speaking of singers, here’s a big Montage welcome to Priscilla Presley, who has purchased a lovely home in an oak-shaded village glen. Priscilla’s is a familiar face in Montecito, often spending time here to garner Montecito support for Make-a-Wish Foundation and other Priscilla pet local non-profits

NEW WESTMONT TRUSTEES: The Westmont Board of Trustees has elected Steve Strong as its new chair and Montecito resident Denise Adams as vice-chair. Strong is a graduate of Westmont and has an MBA from Harvard. He is president and CEO of Steven Label. Adams graduated from Kent State and holds a master’s degree from Connecticut University. The board of trustees oversees the operation of the college and Chancellor David K. Winter added, “I have known and admired both for many years and I am delighted by their appointments.”


Prediction #1: Look for Bob Bierig to become the next chairman of the Montecito Planning Commission and look for a wide range of fresh faces to make application for Dick Thielscher’s vacated seat. Supervisor Salud Carbajal’s office will accept applications up until January 16. Montecito community residents interested in applying for planning commission seat must complete a Santa Barbara County Commission Application, available online on the County website at or can be requested by calling the Clerk of the Board at 568-2240 or the First District Office at 568-2186. Applications must be submitted to the Clerk of the Board and/or Supervisor Carbajal’s office by Tuesday, January 16, 2007 to be considered.

Prediction #2: Montecito historian David Myrick will take early retirement from the Montecito Association Board of Directors. His resignation could be announced as early as next week at the Association’s annual meeting on January 9 at 4 p.m. As the long-time chairman of the Associations’ History Committee and as the leading authority on Montecito’s history, Myrick’s services and institutional knowledge will be sorely missed. A replacement board member will be appointed by the MA president to fill out Myrick’s one remaining year, and we hear there are already plenty of hats in the ring.

Prediction #3: We aren’t buying into the latest Montecito rumor that Ty Warner is selling the Miramar to the Chumash for a casino. That rumor’s been around for a while and we say “no dice.” But where there’s smoke there’s fire, so we do predict the Miramar will fly from the ashes like a Phoenix in 2007 — maybe piloted by Team Ty or by perhaps a new owner — on this point crystal ball is a bit murky.

Prediction #4: The 2007 political races will not foster any politician as nice, kind, intelligent, or ethical as President Gerald Ford. mmford.jpg I had the opportunity to work with him on a Council of World Affairs event in Los Angeles in 1989 (pictured here) and every moment around this giant of a man was a delight and pleasure — he will be missed.

IMAGINARY LIST: Speaking of lists, in early December Montage went on an imaginary trendsetting shopping spree. We gave village trendsetter Nora McNeely Hurley a list asking for ideas for Montecito gifts raging from free to $1 million. The article, which was featured in The Indy’s December 14 print edition, shows Nora casually seated in a 1926 Rolls Royce sipping wine, looking nonchalant, warm, and elegant — but that image was far from the reality.

Here’s what really happened: Our plan was to photograph the elegant $1 million Rolls Royce at sunset at the equally elegant Four Season’s Biltmore Hotel. The Biltmore’s doormen stood at attention; Paul Wellman, The Indy’s well-known photographer showed up ready to work; two wardrobe helpers from Dressed and Ready were on hand to put on the final touches; Nora showed up, dressed to the nines in a sleeveless ballgown, accompanied by her husband Michael, who was to be our “chauffeur.” Our gang assembled and waited for our star, the Rolls, to arrive. But the diva stood us up.

It turned out Madame Rolls Royce had run out of gas near Chase Palm Park on Cabrillo Boulevard and she had no intention of moving even one block further. Being the game supporting players, we loaded up our gear and ourselves and sped towards the fallen star.

The sun was setting by the time we reached the Rolls and our roles quickly changed. Michael Hurley, at one time our chauffeur, was recast as a light pole, holding a much needed flash-flood; I turned from reporter to crossing guard, waving cars around our photographer, who, in limited light, was trying to capture the classic on film and at the same time nimbly dodge the rush hour traffic; Nora, who by now had lost her shoes, stood barefoot and freezing in her borrowed décolleté gown and only marginally warmed by an nearly empty bottle of champagne, left behind when our wardrobe team had the good sense to depart the fading scene.

Alas, in the beauty biz all’s well that end’s well, and Paul got a beautiful shot. But when you look at lovely contented Nora, in the warm glow of sunset and toasting the good life in the Rolls, don’t believe it! In reality she’s got freezing feet, she’s terrified watching her husband dodge traffic, and her champagne is long gone. No question: the price of beauty is indeed high!

And for those who didn’t see the printed article, here’s a look at her list of fantasy gifts:

Free: A walk on Butterfly Beach at Sunset

$1: A lottery ticket from the Bottle Shop

$10: A trip to the Friday Farmer’s market for Ojai Valley Bee Farm cream

$100: Kitten Lashes from Reds

$1,000: Pearl drop earrings from A.H. Gaspar

$10,000: Wardrobe consultation and outfit from Dressed and Ready

$100,000: A blow out party at the Four Seasons Biltmore, lighting by Michael Hurley (of course) and flowers by S / R Hogue.

$1 Million: 1926 Rolls Royce Phantom I Grand Luxe Torpedo Phaeton from Charles Crail Automobiles.

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