The Village’s Two Faces

FROM BEAUTY TO BLOWS: Montecito is such an
anomaly — on Saturday, neighbors were bestowing air kisses in a
most congenial fashion, but by Monday they’d squared off into
varying political camps and seemed much closer to swapping punches
than sipping punch!

Last Saturday was the 22nd Annual Montecito Association
Beautification Day
held in the Upper Village Green. Where
else but Montecito would a garbage-pick-up event be kicked off by a
buffet of freshly baked breads, sliced seasonal fruit, a variety of
juices, and hot coffee poured from silver urns by uniformed
waiters? This always-popular fall event attracts hundreds Montecito
citizens, who, for showing up, are gifted with identically
neutralizing green T-shirts.

However, in spite of the camouflage, there were interesting
standouts in the crowd. For example, a team of enthusiastic
Westmont students were volunteering right along side Laura
Collector
, who has been leading the opposition against
Westmont’s proposed expansion. Sheriff Jim
Anderson
was heard countering a story that crime had risen
in Montecito by 12 percent, explaining it was merely one additional
incident that added the incriminating percentage.

Another intriguing Beautification Day contradiction came in the
form of a generous gift from Ty Warner’s Four
Season’s Biltmore made to his alleged antagonist: the
Montecito Association! But by Tuesday morning, at
a Board of Supervisors appeal hearing over a Biltmore beach
staircase, the café diplomacy was cold and the only thing steaming
was the ongoing rift between fans of the powerful developer and the
association’s community protectors. (The board voted in favor of
Warner’s appeal.) However, while a BoS showdown may not be a great
way to start the day, Montecitans are a sophisticated bunch and
they know how to agree to disagree and still live in community
harmony.

It was just this sense of community (and occasional need for
community healing) that inspired Patty Bliss and
Joanne Rapp to originate Beautification Day in the
late 1980s. Envisioned as an environmental clean-up day, volunteers
receive free T-shirts, coffee, and community camaraderie in
exchange for an hour’s worth of litter pick-up.

beaut%20day%20slideshow%20009.jpg

Mindy Denison (pictured) chaired Beautification
2006, which honored citizen of the year John
Venable
along with volunteers Barry
Siegel
and Austin Lampson. The event
ended with a hot dog and chili lunch hosted by the
Montecito Fire District. More than 1.38 tons of
litter was collected and dumped by Marborg, causing one long-time
citizen to ponder, “Does this mean we can’t call Montecito
trashy?”

WESTMONT TBA AGAIN: The Montecito
Planning Commission
’s Monday hearing on Westmont’s
expansion plans was continued until November 20. The commission
spent another six-and-a-half hours mulling the impacts and
mitigations of the massive plan. After months of listening to
testimony from planning staff, the applicant, and the opposition,
the commissioners spent the entire session debating amongst
themselves. At the end of the day, they determined the had more
questions and needed more discussion time. Expect the commission to
re-examine penalties for traffic going over the any average daily
trip (ADT) caps, and to review the cap itself. Current usage is
calculated at 3,243 ADT, and Westmont is requesting an increase to
a 3,500 cap. Do the math and that’s an additional 257 trips per
day.

At the next hearing, the commission is also expected to revisit
construction impacts, parking and traffic limits, possible
affordable employee-housing opportunities, EIR certification, and
the height and space requirements of the proposed chapel (down to
the minutia of whether it’s 9- or 11-square-feet per person for an
assembly area!). As he reviewed the “To-be-Done List,” commission
chair Robert Meghreblian concluded triumphantly,
“We have converged on those things that bother us.” But when
assistant county P&D director Diane Meester
Black
heard the long list of unresolved issues, she
slumped somewhat, adding, “One more hearing is my goal.” Wishful
thinking aside, some oddsmakers are taking December for bets on the
Westmont approval date.

montage%20cup.jpgMONTECITO MEANDERINGS:
Westmont hosts a very creative ceramic show on
display until December 15 at the college’s Reynolds
Gallery
, 955 La Paz Road, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through
Saturday. The selection of unusual pots and cups, curated by
Westmont alumni Chris Rupp, is delectable,
distinctive, and affordable — at the opening guest were falling
head over tea cups for this delightful display!….

Wearable and wall art will be on display at Tour de Arte
Fashion and Fine Art
show, November 15 from 5 until 8 p.m.
The event is being organized by Montecito’s very aesthetic
Arlyn Goldsby and will feature some Montecito
artists and fashions from Arlyn’s trendy Objects.
For info contact concierge@sbtoursdearte.com…..

The Coral Casino Social Committee (pictured,
from left, Alex Fleming, Victoria
Hines
, Stephanie McGowan, and
Daphne Ireland with Coral Casino manager
Kevin Speer standing) got together recently to
start talking about the Coral’s reopening party planned for July
1..…

coral%20casino%2011-7.jpg

In spite of one member’s lawsuit, the Coral closed last November
and a seagull flying overhead might notice construction well under
way. The grand ballroom has been deeply excavated and the pool is
partially drained (contrary to rumor, it will not be reconfigured,
but the pool is undergoing permit changes for tile and plaster
modifications). The best news? The old view-blocking storage room
is gone, allowing for the fabled pacific vista to once again be
revealed from the stellar Coral Casino entry…..

On the MPC November 15 Agenda is a review of some MPC, MBAR, and
MA subcommittee work. Initiated by First District Supervisor
Salud Carbajal last January, the committee reviews
include a look at acceptable floor area ratios, neighborhood
compatibility descriptions, historical home inventories, and
encroachments. The committee’s determinations could be used in the
future by MBAR to better define and enforce the Montecito’s
Architectural Guidelines….

Montecito architect Kevin Contreras reports his
television series “Building Green” will air on KCET on November 12
and 19 at 5:30 p.m. Kevin’s own house, made of straw, has been
featured on a past and popular Montecito Walk and Talk tour….

Film producer/director Steve Traxler reports
the Santa Barbara High School Theater Department’s fall play opens
on November 10 and 11, repeating on November 16, 17, and 18. The
play, “Still Life with Iris,” is a fantasy that includes on-stage
magic and illusion and stars Steve’s daughter, Carlin
Traxler
. “The play is aimed toward kids and it’s not well
known so it may be tough to find a general audience,” confessed
Steve. “As a loving dad, I’m out beating the bushes for publicity.”
There are other Montecito kids in this play, so join this dad
applauding his daughter and take a break from the drama of village
politics to enjoy real theater at SB High School!…..

The Susnar property, including landmark
Tom’s Pharmacy at the corner of East Valley Road
and San Ysidro, has sold. Realtor Michael Phillips
tells us the high bidder was real estate investor Richard
Gunner
, who shelled out $11 million, making it one very
expensive Rx!…..

Lots of interest recently in the architecturally interesting
Middle Road neighborhood that includes noted architectural
designers George Washington Smith, Lutah
Marie Riggs
, and Frank Lloyd Wright, all
within steps of each other…..

And it’s confirmed: those anonymous donors of the $75 million to
Westmont? We’ll let them stay anonymous but let you know they are
from Montecito, of course!

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