The Best of Montecito and More

OUR FAVORITES: No fall would be complete
without The Independent’s “Best of Santa Barbara” list and
Montecito didn’t want to be left out. So here’s an “on-the-street”
take of what some neighbor say is best about Montecito:

“The quality of life and the trees.” — Claire
Gottsdanker, landscape designer and member Montecito
Planning Commission
(She’s right, so we put up this tree

“The community spirit.” — Jean von
Wittenburg, former and longtime chair of the Montecito
Association Beautification Day

“The Montecito trails system.” — Montecito Fire District
Chief Kevin Wallace, who took the helm of the Fire
District on October 1

“The kindness and loyalty of all of our customers.”
Liza Johnston, manager of the Montecito Pet Shop,
a longtime Coast Village Road business relocating to the Mesa to
avoid Montecito’s rabidly rising rents

“My favorite thing in Montecito is—of course—getting a project
completed and all the people I get to talk to who help us reach
that goal!” — Greg Rice, Property Executive,
Ty Warner Resorts and Properties

“The best of Montecito is the sense of commitment to the land
and the continuity of the community. The winding paths, the
undulating terrain, the physical diversity of the plants, and the
variety of the microclimates we have here are always embraced by
residents. The faces change in Montecito but the sprit remains the
same.” — David Bertrand, 75-year resident of
Montecito, to whom we award “The Best Poetic Response.”

six-year-long community debate, a 90-day hiatus to re-group, a
fully new architectural re-design, and God only knows how many
prayers, Westmont College’s hoped-for campus
re-vamp sits stalled in limbo!

The 15-hours of public hearings, held on October 16 and 18 at
the Montecito Planning Commission, served only to
whet the appetite of the information hungry commissioners. At the
end of the day they asked the Christian liberal arts college and
the county’s Planning and Development staff to come back on
November 6 with more details to help their deliberations, which
could extend into December.

Westmont’s 300,000-square-foot proposal is the largest project
to ever be considered in Montecito, so the commission’s need for
minutiae may be warranted. This week’s sessions were dedicated to
staff evaluation (well organized by P&D staff member
Alex Tuttle), a formal Westmont presentation
introducing their redesigned project (poetically dubbed the
“Natural Contour Approach”), and hours of public comment from
citizens with varying interests in the project.

At debate is Westmont’s desire and stated need to have upgraded
facilities to attract and accommodate top-notch students.
Westmont’s President and Chancellor David Winter
believes an upgraded campus will “add richness and value to the
community.” However, some of Westmont’s nearby neighbors disagree.
The college is situated right in the center of a residential
neighborhood and residents have expressed concern that the massive
project—equal, as one neighbor put it, to “two Home Depots and One
Costco”—would negatively impact the residential quality of their
homes and their lives.

Over a dozen citizens took to the podium to make their feelings
known, and each of the opponents, proponents, attorneys,
specialists, technicians, builders, planners, and architects added
bulk and mass to the discussion. And, as if in-person testimony was
not enough, Westmont provided a videotaped cameo appearance by
popular former county counsel Alan Seltzer, which
was culled from stimulating past lectures on the nuances between
vested rights and entitlements.

In the last hour of the discussion, the commissioners seemed
revitalized and ticked off a narrowing list for items further
discussion. Among items on the list:

• Review the project’s total square footage

• Look at site’s specific uses, such as music practice rooms and
sports equipment storage

• Examine traffic containment measures, including brainstorming
ideas for stronger penalties for traffic abuse.

• Study a construction timetable, including a building phasing
plan and a sequencing schedule.

• And, discuss the precedent-setting potential of a proposed
49-foot winged roof chapel.

The commission will begin deliberating on the merits of the
project beginning at 9 a.m. on November 6 in the main floor hearing
room of the County Engineering Building, 123 Anapamu.

INQUIRING MINDS DEPARTMENT: “Ned” asks J’Amy-Online to update
the status of the Railroad “Quiet Zone.” The Quiet
Zone refers to a new federal law limiting those over-endowed train
horns that blast through Montecito’s quiet residential
neighborhoods day and night. The county has been looking into this
blaring issue for several years and we get this update from
Gary Smart, Department of Public Works:

“The item is currently being reviewed by our traffic engineering
committee. The next meeting is on November 8. We hope to have the
committee review completed at this meeting. If not, we will be
looking at holding a special meeting to expedite closing the issue
and getting the application to the Federal Railroad Administration
(FRA). The train quiet zone is one of our highest priorities and we
are working to complete the item a quickly as possible. Once the
FRA approves the quiet zone we will need to work with the railroads
to implement any improvements required. We hope to have the quiet
zone active by middle next year.”

salud%2C%20naomi%2C%20and%20janet.jpg MONTECITO MEANDERINGS:
Montecito was well represented at Janet Wolf’s recent non-partisan
campaign party. Former First District Supervisor Naomi
was seen chatting with current First District
Supervisor Salud Carbajal (both pictured with Wolf
in the middle) and Montecito Association Land Use Chair
Susan Keller.… While under the shears of Montecito
hair stylist Bruce Green, client Sylvia
reported her daughter, Leslie
, president of Bare
, has just taken the popular cosmetic
company public. Leslie’s magnetic personality has made Bare
Escentuals the number one top selling product on QVC and Sylvia,
the proud mom, was primping for a trip to New York where her
daughter was to be honored at a 1,200-person banquet saluting women
in the beauty industry…. Under the “We Won’t Support Montecito
Movie Star Maps” category, we did find a photo (below) of
Ellen DeGeneres‘ new Montecito digs circulating
and felt Inquiring Minds would have to see. ellens%20house.jpg

Association’s Semi Annual Home Owner’s Meeting
, featuring
P&D’s new head John Baker, along with
Montecito Planning Commissioners Claire
and Michael Phillips, the
Sheriff’s Deparment’s Darin Fotheringham, and Fire
Chief Kevin Wallace, Wednesday, October 25, 4:30
p.m. at 1469 East Valley Road.… Ghost Village Road’s Trick
or Treats
, Tuesday, October 31, 3:30 until 7 p.m. behind
Here’s the Scoop…. Annual Beautification Day
honoring John Venable and Barry
, Saturday, November 4, 9 a.m., Upper Village


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