Comments by JAMY

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Posted on November 18 at 11:34 p.m.

Would someone jog my memory? As I recall the names of the Santa Ynez workers that started the Zaca Fire were released to the public almost immediately. Is that correct? Were they arrested? I vaguely recall seeing them in a courtroom looking pretty confused.

On Tea Fire Cause Is Determined

Posted on November 16 at 5:24 p.m.

I was involved with this gate issue in 2005 and 2006.

During meetings at Salud Carbajal's office, public safety parties, including Caltrans, Pedro Nava's office, Montecito Fire, City Fire, the Sheriff's Department, City Police, and I think even Highway Patrol PROMISED that gate would be opened on all, and every,red flag alert. If that did not happen on Thursday, which MUST have been a Red Flag Day, the gate should be removed--- NOW, as it is a public safety danger.

J'Amy Brown, past-president, Montecito Association

On Tea Fire Takes Conejo Road Residents by Surprise

Posted on April 27 at 7:19 p.m.

I agree about facts, and I quote a recent 3/27 Indy story on the new 2008 housing component distributions:

"The state determines each county's "fair share" of housing for California's projected new residents, based primarily on counties' geographical sizes. It handed Santa Barbara County 11,600 new dwelling units for the years 2008 through 2014, leaving SBCAG to tussle over where in the county to stick them....

"It was Santa Maria Mayor Larry Lavagnino who made the motion to place 6,824 of those new units in the South County, 4,388 of them in the City of Santa Barbara. By way of comparison, the North County's entire share is 4,776 new homes. The mayors of all seven of the other cities in the county voted in support. Lavagnino's motion assigned the City of Goleta, whose new administration is not unfriendly to growth, a relatively modest 1,641 units, and it gave the City of Carpinteria just 305."

On Montecitans Are Analyzing Cityhood

Posted on April 27 at 1:28 p.m.

Hi Robert-Affordable housing is not a red herring. If Montecito becomes a city, it will have a real impact. By itself, it is not a deal breaker for cityhood, but it needs to be seriously researched and considered.

In 2002, in the last round of cityhood talks, I was on a team that was in charge of researching what kind of affordable housing component might be allotted to Montecito, should it be a city. We came up with a rough estimate of around 348 units, over a five-year period (based on the 2002 county allotments). In addition to SBCAG and the county, we interview similar size cities like Malibu, Westlake and Hillsborough to get our estimate.

Our team came to believe geographically locked Montecito would be forced to up-zone parcels to meet that high-density affordable housing demands. We feared that option could create a more impacted community, challenging our semi-rural ambience.

We tried to look at alternatives to up zoning, but options like counting granny flats, claiming resource encumbrances (which would force an EIR), or just saying no, were withdraw from the table as they appeared to be unachievable, unrealistic or too expensive for a fledgling city.

That said, I look forward to the community forums. I hope study teams will be assembled to do some objective fact-finding research, going beyond financial feasibility. In 2002, the Association put out a call for volunteers and about 15 citizens, from a variety of viewpoints, signed up. Aptly led by urban planner George Tamas, we took about four months to do the legwork required to study the uncertainties and provide the community with a platform for a well-informed discussion, and I for one can attest it was an eye-opener!

On Montecitans Are Analyzing Cityhood

Posted on December 20 at 12:01 a.m.

EXTRA: Wednesday, December 19: Kay and Dave Peterson prevailed in their appeal to block the Largrua hillside project. MPC voted 4-1 in their favor. More details to be posted later.

On Westmont Wins, Miramar Moves, and Montecito Association Nominates

Posted on October 20 at 2:25 p.m.

BREAKING NEWS: Judge Rodney Melville has rendered a decision in Jack and Pauline Maxwell's lawsuit against the County of Santa Barbara. At issue were the Maxwell's development rights for their 1.8-acre property between High Road and Summit Roads in Montecito. It appears the likely outcome of Judge Melville's ruling is that the Maxwells will be allowed to build one additional house on their 1.8-acre parcel. Currently, a 7000-square foot house exists on a .04 portion of the property which was previously certified legal lot, leaving 1.4 acres in debate.

Melville's opinion, thought to be one of the Santa Maria-based judge's last decisions before his retirement, is 14 pages long. It goes into numerous aspects of the case including the property's history, conveyances, the antiquated map act; two-acre zoning in the neighborhood mandated by the Montecito Community plan; average lots size; ex-parte communications; conditional and unconditional certificates of compliance and spot zoning.

The Maxwells' argued they had the right to develop six antiquated lots, created in 1887, but the judge could not accept that notion. The judge did agree, however, that the Maxwells were unfairly left with an undevelopable 1.4 acres parcel, in an area where zoning allows only one house per two acres. Using the spot zoning argument, Melville notes, "The [County findings] seem to ignore the fact that the 1.4 acre remainder parcel it has created is the only parcel in the area on which all development is prohibited."

The Melville writ, issued October 12 but just received by the County, mandates the Board of Supervisors to reconsider the Maxwell's application and issue and appropriate certificate of compliance that will allow for development on the 1.4 remaining acreage.

The Board of Supervisors will now meet in closed session to review their options. In the mean time Planning and Development is researching how the mandate would be exacted, if the board accepts it. Given the unique set of circumstances in this case, it is not believed Melville's decision will have substantial bearing on other Montecito properties or zoning within the Montecito Community Plan.

On Bomberos Without Borders

Posted on September 12 at 1:38 p.m.

Caruso Affiliated's Matt Middlebrook has taken exception to my reporting Miramar rumors in this column without allowing an opportunity for the Caruso group to respond. While I clearly labeled the items as purely amusing rumor, I am delighted Matt has come forward to respond so we can set the record straight. To that end, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce Matt Middlebrook:

J'Amy -- Love your way with words, if only they were true. Three points:

1. In discussion with our neighbors about the road, the issue of heights, etc. was never a focus of the talks. Our discussions were only about the creek, and the end of the discussions came after nearly 5 months of talks.

2. The Ty Warner straw man theory, while titillating, is a bunch of nonsense, as is the absurd quote from the unnamed source stating, "[Caruso] claims not to have done the due diligence on the site, specifically about the salt water intrusion, percolation problems, and the road easements." We've done extensive due diligence which is why we're so confident we can build a great hotel on this site.

3. The plan we presented to MBAR was nearly identical to the concepts we presented to the community at the public meeting at the Presbyterian Church and at dozens of meetings, both big and small since. Our approach from day one has been direct community engagement, and those discussions over the months have helped us make a better plan for the hotel. And we'll continue to work with the community as we redesign the project (which we've already started!)

Facts aren't nearly as fun as the rumors, but figured I might as well get these points on the record. Look forward to seeing you around town (since you apparently lost my phone number).

Your loyal and devoted reader,
Matt Middlebrook, Vice President, Caruso Affiliated

On What Kind of Circus Is This?

Posted on September 5 at 6:35 p.m.

EXTRA UPDATE: Wednesday, 5:00 PM:

Rick Caruso has abruptly canceled his scheduled appearance with MBAR set for September 10 and his joint meeting with MBAR-MPC on September 19 due to an unexpected project redesign.

It seems a road easement agreement, which Caruso hoped to obtain from neighbors on the eastern end of the property, fell through today. Caruso Affiliated's Matt Middlebrook said a redesign, eliminating the eastern access road, will be coming forward as quickly as possible, but not in time for the pre-scheduled upcoming MBAR-MPC hearings. Middlebrook added eliminating the road will cause a ripple effect on the entire project so a project hearing at this stage would be useless.

Story poles put up early this week at the Miramar have received wide public attention and may have had an impact on the neighbors' attitude toward the road easement.

Supervisor Salud Carbajal said he received a personal call from Caruso late this afternoon alerting him of the change of plans. "He told me the a road issues with the neighbors could not be worked out and as a result the plan will need a bit of a redesign--some tweaking. Caruso was disappointed and I heard him out and said the county would continue to offer their assistance as in any way we could," Carbajal said.

On Story Poles Up at the Miramar

Posted on August 28 at 9:21 p.m.

I have received several emails how to reach Nancy Koppleman for info about her Obama event. If you are interested, click on my byline name at the top of this column I will forward your request to Nancy.

Also, keep that "contact" trick in mind for future reference. You can reach me about any topic anytime and the web email is private and comes directly to me. Your email will not be posted anywhere (unless you ask me to post your comment under my name, which some non-Indy registered people do.)

On When Oprah Met Obama

Posted on August 24 at 12:37 a.m.

I believe the Romero Trail was recaptured several days before this past Tuesday. (It is, by the way, an old Forest Service Road from the 1970 that was simply reclaimed. I guess the Forest Service giveth and the Forest Service taketh away). I was there last Friday (See Montecito Montage, August 18) and dozer and hand crews were hard at work.

At that time a backfiring operation was planned for along the Pendola Jeepway to the Santa Ynez Riverbed, right behind Montecito. Fortunately the firing was scrubbed, but on Friday the road was being prepared to provide access for fire crews, just in case the backburn went awry and crews had to move either from or to Camino Cielo.

I like that trail, and I believe they just cleared brush the bottom (no dozers) to create a one-car access. However, given the options at the time, the recapture was, in my non-professional opinion, the best and safest strategy. I believe Montecito Trails Foundation concurred.

It is too bad it has been left in a mess, but maybe its clean up is something we can take on as a community project. I think we might have more tender touch towards its restoration and personally, I think it is time to let the Fed and State crews go home--with a big thank you, of course!

On Romero Canyon Single Track Receives a Facelift

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