Keep the Montage Moving

DIVINE ANSWER: After almost seven years of
planning and persuasion, Westmont College finally heard the
answer they’d been praying for. At the Monday night meeting of the
Montecito Board of Architectural Review
(MBAR), the college’s Campus Master Plan Update was rendered a very
encouraging review by the nearly unanimous board. With the MBAR’s
positive comments in hand, the college can now move forward to the
Montecito Planning Commission, where a
two-day special hearing on the project is set for October 16 and
October 18.

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In May, the 300,000-square-foot redesign became locked in a
quagmire between the college’s needs and the neighbors’ concerns.
Facing an onslaught of unfavorable comments from citizens and
decision-makers, the college took 60 days off to regroup.

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Last week, with the help of architects David Van
Hoy
and Ken Radtkey and landscape planner
Susan Van Atta, Westmont unveiled a fresh
approach. The new environmentally friendly design better emphasizes
the unique campus setting, a former private estate, and makes
innovative use of the historic garden atmosphere. The design team’s
efforts did not go unnoticed or unheralded at the MBAR meeting.
Boardmember and architect Marsha Zilles summed up
the majority opinion when she said, “You have turned this plan. You
have supplied solutions for your needs and those of the community
and the environment. It is beautiful, and I look forward to seeing
it, walking through it, and being in it.”

It wasn’t entirely a love fest, though. MBAR member Don
Nulty
expressed some concern about the size and height of
the college’s multipurpose chapel and commented he was not “totally
on board with it.” But Zilles respectfully disagreed and sang
praises of the 49-foot-tall multipurpose auditorium/chapel. She
said, “I did not find the chapel overpowering. It is a signature
building and it cannot be required not to stand out, especially
with all the re-working we have see here.” While no formal vote was
taken, MBAR’s generally positive comments about the roads, grading,
design, entrance, noise, and building design will be forwarded to
the Montecito Planning Commission for consideration at their
October 16 and 18 hearings. And, while some of Westmont’s prayers
have been answered, expect traffic and square footage to get more
devoted attention then.

FROM N-P TO PR: Camillia
Cohee
, the former News-Press reporter assigned to
the Montecito beat, hit the “new job” jackpot this week when she
landed a high-level public relations slot at the Chumash Resort and
Casino
in Santa Ynez. While Cohee was well known and
liked during her Montecito assignments, she may be best remembered
for her now infamous reporting of Rob Lowe’s address. That caused
News-Press owner Wendy McCaw to send
letters of reprimand to Cohee and her superiors, which in turned
caused the mass exodus of editors, reporters, and other employees
who left the paper fearing that the editorial ethics had been
breached.

Amidst the ensuing flap at the News-Press, Cohee cut
her loses and left the paper. In August, she placed her bet on
Santa Barbara City Councilman Brian Barnwell, and
the two were married. Now, with the announcement of her lucrative
new PR job, our former Montecito scribe appears to be on a winning
roll, with the good odds for a fortuitous future!

montecito winemaker.jpg FROM WINE TO WATER:
Winemaker Richard Shaikewitz (pictured) is
featured in this month’s Wine Destination Magazine as part
of a Montecito vintner team. The group, Los Cinco
Locos
, is described as being responsible for concocting
some remarkably good wines and, this week, they were once again
crushing the grapes at their Montecito Pepper Lane
winery.

But sommelier Shaikewitz is so busy that he may have to put down
his syrah when he takes a seat at the Montecito Water District Board in December.
Intoxicated by the community spirit, Shaikewitz also has agreed to
serve as the volunteer head of the Butterfly Beach
Homeowners Association
. And for those taking notes, he
remains secretary of Montecito
Association
. Yet despite his civic activity,
Shaikewitz plans to continue his role as quality inspector and
chief-sipper with Los Cinco Locos.

MONTECITO NOTABLE QUOTABLES: “Montecito is
changing faster than many people realize. Not all change is bad,
but not all change is progress,” said Susan
Keller
, the chair of the Montecito Association’s
Land Use Committee
. Keller was explaining the difficulty
of finding balance between individual property rights, development
desires, and community protection

MONTECITO MEANDERINGS: Congratulations to
John Venable, who has been selected as
Montecito Citizen of the Year, and Barry
Siegel
, who takes home the 2006 Volunteer of the
Year Award
. These two notable and longtime community
volunteers will be honored at the Montecito Association
Beautification Day on November 4.…

Last Thursday, a bicyclist was hit by a car in front of
the library
and transported to Cottage Hospital. This area
remains dangerously dicey for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists
alike and some think a Ty Warner-inspired traffic calming
median
might be the perfect solution at this risky
site!….

You can’t think “red head” without thinking of Leslie
Ridley-Tree
, and so when her birthday club got together
this month to celebrate the Lady with Spark, Anne Towbes,
Arlyn Goldsby, Lee Luria, Sue Colin, Alex Nourse, and Jill
Bellowe
donned red wigs and red feather boas, tickling
Montecito’s colorful philanthropist with delight!….

And, in what we hope is the last lowdown on Rob
Lowe
, we hear it was planning commissioner and attorney
Michael Cooney, who was coaxed by
Supervisor Salud Carbajal to work on an agreement
between sparring Montecito titans Lowe and Fred
Gluck
. It turns out that some offending trees were the
only real bone of contention growing between the soon-to-be
neighbors, but it took Cooney, if you will, to see the trees
through the forest!

(Montecito Montagej.amy.brown@att.net is a column dedicated to
the people, places, and politics of Montecito. Readers’ interests
define the column, so please let us hear from you by commenting in
the box below or contacting J’Amy Brown at
. The opinions
expressed in this column are those of the writer and not
necessarily those of The Independent.

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