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Posted on July 21 at 6:48 a.m.
Nicely written piece, Mr. Welsh. Your insight and usually controlled anger is the reason I come back to read the Independent even when I'm not living in Santa Barbara. You tell me about the town I love and sometimes, as now, you tell me more.
Posted on August 15 at 2:25 p.m.
Mr. Caruso isn't going anywhere. He's extraordinarily smart and he's played his supporters like a violin. Between blandishments and threats, he's gotten a good portion of Montecito scared he's going to throw away whatever massive sum he spent on the property and turn tail.
Not. Going. To. Happen.
I can only scarcely imagine the pressure behind the scenes on the MPC commissioners. I hope they can maintain their independence and do their job in this lynch mob atmosphere.
Where is the water going to come from, now that we're in a drought, and, if Montecito Water can ever get it, how much will the Miramar's water cost everyone else?
Where is the sewage going to go to (when the Miramar waste flows push the Montecito Sanitation District within a couple of percentage points of having to build new facilities)?
What is the real impact of importing 10,000 cubic yards (that's a thousand dump truck loads) of fill into a floodplain?
Why is Caruso allowed to build in the setbacks AT ALL? Schrager was because Schrager was rehabbing existing buildings. But Caruso's scraping the lot.
And on. And on. There are a lot of questions here, and few good answers. That these questions haven't been fully addressed in the past is a real shame. If they had been, we'd be a lot closer to a Miramar that we ALL can be proud of.
The MPC should keep digging for answers. If they deny without getting them, Caruso will take this to the Supes and this enormous under-parked, over-built monster will get a quick yes.
You just watch.
On Caruso's Miramar: What Now?
Posted on August 7 at 7:40 a.m.
It is truly upsetting that Mr Caruso is not going to be able to re-develop the Miramar. For the neighbors, and I'm one, it's a rat-infested mess, and for the County, a much-needed source of tax revenue is in abeyance.
The responsibility for that, however, lies entirely with Mr. Caruso. His plan was egregiously large, wildly out of scale with the Montecito Community Plan, and riddled with errors of omission and commission in order to squeeze a huge development into a relatively small lot.
The dreams of private equity are not a public problem. If a centi-mililonaire overpays overpays a billionaire for the Miramar, that's his responsibility. If the only way to make it pencil out is to devastate the Montecito Community Plan, that's not a solution worth having.
Mr. Caruso knew that there was a fierce resistance to over-development here. He bought approved plans. That he chose to discard them so he could scrape tthe lot clean was his choice.
The Montecito Planning Commission did their job, despite a lot of public pressure to rubber-stamp the fast-tracked plans. They deserve our thanks.
On The End of Caruso's Miramar?
Posted on July 26 at 9:11 a.m.
Ah, the ever disingenuous Mr. Meltzer is looking for square footage comparisons between Schrager and Caruso...
Try any number of documents available from the County... but these come from Appendix A of the SEIR:
item................................ Schrager.....Caruso(and note that one of the concerns of the MPC commissioners was that the Caruso square footage calculations seemed to leave a lot of actual square footage not including due to definitional parsing that was deemed extraordinary)
(It's not easy to format a table in a comment, but I've tried to make this readable.)
Total Net Floor area..........137,711 ...170,150main bldg ..............................6,076......37,759retail ....................................... 896 .......3,902(yes that's almost FOUR THOUSAND square feet of retail)
Height modifications from allowed heights under the current zoning:
Schrager: noneCaruso: Main Buiklding, Ballroom, Beach and Tennis Club. The Main Building is almost FIFTY FEET tall.
And then there's the thought that Caruso will essentially FLATTEN the fifteen acres, scrape it like a big-box store lot:
grading: cut (cu. yards).......10,000......36,300grading: fill.............................6,000......46,100
(By the way, the project engineer estimates that the net import of 10,000 cubic yards of fill will require ONE THOUSAND DUMP TRUCKS coming up the San Ysidro exit off the 101 along South Jameson and into the site)
Anyone can check these numbers. They're in the County's plan, the one that says there's not much difference between Caruso and Schrager, not enough to warrant a real environmental review instead of the once-over-lightly of the SEIR.
On Miramar's Extra Architectural Review Nixed
Posted on July 16 at 2:10 a.m.
Seems sorta obvious that Mr. Meltzer's disputatious discrediting of the credentials of the civil engineering associate who pointed out a "fatal flaw" is a little beside the point.
Either there's a flaw or there isn't. When you look at the emails regarding the issue, there's a whistling sound as Mr. Frye, who had earlier been forthright, walks rapidly backwards out of the line of fire, saying his boss didn't ask him to look into it. Why not, boss?
Georgy raises a good question. The Caruso folks say that a TOTAL of 102 employees will be on site at any one time, including shift changes, reservations, front desk, concierges, maid service, restaurant hosts, cooks, wait staff (for the 600-person weddings), retail clerks (there's FOUR THOUSAND square feet of retail in the plan), gardeners, maintenance, etc etc. You believe that? A five star joint like the Biltmore typically has a one-to-one ratio of staff to guest. With 202 rooms, many with couples or families, how many staff will really be there? And where will they park?
And the one thing I don't hear anyone talking about is the whopping TWENTY FEET of so-called horizontal beach access they're promising along the entire frontage of the hotel. That's a pathway only twenty feet from the waves. Don't bring a beach chair.
You're probably thinking what about the Mean High Tide line? Rick's Matt wrote me saying this was a good deal for us beach-goers. Sometimes the tide's higher than the mean, he said, so where would we be?
Well, if they weren't claiming sixty feet from the seawall as theirs, we'd be fine. That's sixty feet that have never been claimed in the history of Miramar Beach. Why should they get it?
On Miramar Hotel Emails Raise Questions
Posted on August 19 at 3:27 p.m.
J'Amy Brown wrote it somewhere on the Independent's site today, but I can't find it in order to agree with her...
So I'll say it here again:
Ray Ford deserves a Pulitzer for the work he's done on this story. Timely, informative, exhaustive, personal, and compelling writing. Thank you, Ray.
And so does the Independent, devoting a lot of time and resources to a matter of over-riding public interest. If you were a public radio station, I'd double my pledge today.
On Zaca Fire One Dogleg Short of Containment