Several weeks ago, I asked for suggestions about how to improve Montage. Many readers said they would like to see Montage in the printed Independent. With that goal in mind, The Independent editors have carved some space in the print, and we shall make a concentrated effort to give you both Montage in-print and online. The Independent printed edition hits the stands every Thursday morning, but continue to look for the time-sensitive and fresh breaking news to be here, online at Independent.com/montecito. Here’s a tease for tomorrow’s printed edition: Montage gives up fighting windmills and takes on Oprah and O.J. But for now in this online version, Montage happily dishes up these delicious news morsels for you to chew on.
LARGURA HILLSIDE PROJECTS FACES APPEAL: Just slightly over one week ago, Robert Largura thought his battle to build a hillside house at 2480 Bella Vista in Montecito had come to a favorable end. The project, designed by well-known local architect Bob Easton, has been in the permit pipeline for nearly two years, along the way stirring a great deal of controversy among neighbors over its location and size. The project first attracted consternation in early 2006, when a very visible driveway to the property was put on the hillside.
On September 24, after a slew of public hearing, appeals, story pole installations, site visits, and design revisions, the Montecito Board of Architectural Review voted unanimously to approve the Largura plans. But giddy celebrations may have been premature because on Monday, October 1, Largura’s neighbors and most vocal opponents, Dave and Kay Peterson, announced their intentions to appeal MBAR’s decision to the Montecito Planning Commission.
“This project is a clear violation of the community plan. This is terrible. It is so inappropriate,” said an exasperated Kay Peterson at Monday’s monthly meeting of the Montecito Association Land Use Committee. Land Use Committee Chair Ted Tedesco seemed to hear her frustration and concurred: “The project is a violation of the Montecito Community Plan policies and the Land Use Development Code provisions. This kind of project was not intended to take place in the hillside area.” Tedesco told the Petersons he would ask the Montecito Association board to review the issue at their October meeting and send a strongly worded letter of disappointment to Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
Brian Felix, a co-owner of the Largura project, reacted with surprise when informed about the pending appeal: “Inappropriate? A violation of the community plan? What does a six-zero unanimous vote tell you? We got a perfect score from the professionals, and the MBAR and the county staff thanked us for our hard work, redesigns and patience.”
No date has been set for the pending MPC appeal, but the topic will be on the Montecito Association’s October 9 agenda. The meeting starts at 4 p.m. at the community hall.
DRINKING IT IN: Montecito resident and acclaimed American novelist and short story writer T. C. Boyle was honored Friday night at the Ninth Annual Santa Barbara Book and Author’s Festival. Boyle received the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, given annually to a California writer whose life’s work raises the standards of literary excellence. In the past, Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, and Sue Grafton have received the prize.
During an on-stage conversation with Tom Nolan, best known for his Ross Macdonald biography, Boyle told the audience he has just finished a new book about the four women in Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, due out in 2009. He also shared that, just that day, Universal had dropped the movie option for Boyle’s latest bestseller, Talk Talk. “For you filmmakers out there,” Boyle offered, “it’s available.”
Boyle honored Montecito historian David F. Myrick as a resource. He also said he found inspiration for his novel, Riven Rock, at Sheila and Frank McGinity’s historic home in that neighborhood. Boyle said he loves to swim at Butterfly Beach and walk our village lanes.
Asked about great advice he’d received from other literary giants, Boyle said John Cheever once told him, “Don’t drink gin in the morning.”
Drinking it all in was an enthusiastic audience, including Brian and Joanne Rapp, Jim and Helen Buckley, Susan Gulbransen, Erin Graffy de Garcia, and Starshine Roshell.
POLITICAL LOVE FEST: Who better to put on a fest, or to fest with, than S.B. Film Festival master Roger Durling? His Monday night event was pulled together at sleek and trendy EOS on Anacapa Street to toast sleek and trendy City Councilman Brian Barnwell on his upcoming re-election campaign. Roger, having just seen Tony Bennett in concert on Sunday night - Montage was there too, courtesy of Kim and Andy Busch - felt Santa Barbara was a great city to leave our hearts in, and Barnwell, as a council member, to care for our assets.
Lots of Coast Village Road folks turned up to applaud the councilman, who always shows a keen interest in Montecito’s business district and often attends quarterly merchant meetings. Showing their appreciation were past Coast Village Road Business Association presidents Rodney Gould and Jan Atkins. However, applauding the councilman with the most enthusiasm was his bride Camie Cohee Barnwell, the former Montecito reporter whose last story at the News-Press, you’ll recall, was a low-down on Rob Lowe.
RUDY COMES WITH LESS TROUBLE: Missing for Rudy Gilliani’s visit last week were the abundant and tight security measures that presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama required when he made his now famous Oprah Winfrey house call. We hear no roads were barricaded for Rudy and Montage, for one, appreciates the conservative’s conservation of our taxes. Perhaps for the next presidential candidate coming through town with a fundraising cup in hand, we should form a non-partisan welcoming committee to stand lining their limousine routes with tin cups of our own. Wouldn’t it be nice to re-coup some of the security costs these high-profile out-of-town visitors are incurring and, put it toward, say, gang prevention?
ON MONTAGE’S RADAR:
* Although the case rested mid-July, the judge hearing Jack Maxwell‘s lawsuit against the County of Santa Barbara has not yet delivered his decision:
* After about a year of being grounded, the Coral Casino lighthouse has been re-installed. It was removed from its base in August 2006 when the pedestal was deemed decayed. But as of Monday, she’s back on top, so, as they say, let there be light.
* Montecito Association president Bill Palladini gets back from his native Italy this week, where his Italian family was belatedly honored for their World War II heroism.
* Yes, Montage was there when Jimmy Connors was photographed last week at the Montecito County Club with former President Bill Clinton.
* Saturday’s Heal the Ocean benefit was a big success, we hear, but big donor Rick Caruso was a no-show; he sent staff instead. Rick was probably looking for a life preserver to save him from drowning in rumors that he’s deep-sixing the Miramar. Deep breath, dear readers, here is your weekly update: Rick Caruso is not-not-not backing out of the Miramar project. I have been reassured, once again, that Caruso remains committed to the project and, for the moment, anything else you have heard is just rambling rumors. So once again, Montage has fulfilled our mission to unscramble drivel and illegible scribble!