Voices Raised in Montecito

Salud Carbajal Rebuffed at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors
Hearing

boS%20004.jpgAt Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of
Supervisors (BOS), the rookie Montecito watchdog group,
Voices of Montecito let out a roar that
could be heard throughout the county of Santa Barbara. When the
reverberation ended, three Montecito Planning
Commissioners
found themselves unceremoniously unseated,
their appointments delayed for two weeks pending a further BoS
review that could also include a re-examination of the Montecito Planning Commission (MPC) itself.

While First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal
held to the mandatory podium politeness during the supes’ meeting,
afterwards he said he was affronted by the “lack of civility about
protocols and procedures by my north county colleagues,” who voted,
in a block, to block Carbajal’s scheduled MPC appointments.

“The delay goes against the protocols, procedures, and etiquette
of past boards. I think this sets a precedent. I hope this isn’t
the start of a precarious future for the Board of Supervisors that
has in the past collectively tried to be civil and deferential
towards one another and toward historic procedures,” Carbajal said.
Normally all board and commission appointments are ho-hum
administrative items that pass without comment or debate, but not
on Tuesday!

The boS%20009.jpgbattle came into play after a congenial
swearing-in ceremony, complete with former Governor Pete
Wilson
as the bonding keynote speaker and BoS
Chair Joni Gray
highlighting how important it was to work
together, adding “a war avoided is a war won.” However, as the
board reconvened after a reception, the members must have donned
flack jackets in the ante room because the mood moved from
conciliation to confrontation.

With the party-crowd gone, only a few Montecito stalwarts graced
the chambers for the unexpected showdown. Among them were Voices of
Montecito leaders Lee Luria and Mary Belle
Snow
, along with Montecito Planning Commissioner
Michael Phillips, up for reappointment, and
Sue Burrows, expecting her first MPC appointment.
(The third MPC non-nomination went to Bob Bierig,
who was side-stepped the in-person humiliation opportunity. He’s
rumored to be tapped as the MPC chair on January 17 — an item
muddled by his non-appointment and leaving, perhaps, the MPC with
no chair.)

Citizen Luria rose to the podium at the public comment. She said
the planning process in Montecito disappointed her and that the
process of choosing appointees to the MPC didn’t seem very open. “I
would ask that the Board of Supervisors defer making any decisions
on new commissioners until these and other issues have been dealt
with in an open and democratic forum,” she said.

boS%20003.jpgMary Belle Snow, who resides on the
borderline of Montecito in the First District’s Toro Canyon
planning area, spoke on behalf of Voices of Montecito and she added
her concern about the process of choosing Montecito’s Planning
Commissioners. “I want to address this debacle we call Montecito
planning,” she said, adding, in the opinion of Voices of Montecito,
the commission’s current make up is not representative of the
community. “We are not pulling from a large enough pool of
applicants and that results in continuous replication of the same
people serving year after year.”

Andy Caldwellof the Coalition of
Labor, Agriculture & Business
said the Montecito Planning
Commission had “a wider reach” than just Montecito and therefore,
he suggested, the entire Board of Supervisors should review MPC
applicants. Because Montecito is situated in the First District, to
date, all MPC Commissioners and Montecito Board of Architectural
Review members have been appointed by Supervisor Carbajal and
confirmed by the Board of Supervisors.

“When it comes to planning issues [the MPC doesn’t] just
represent Supervisor Carbajal. They represent the entire board,”
Caldwell said. “In view of the public testimony you are hearing
today, it is apparent something is broken in the system and we need
a time-out here to review this relationship and determine if there
really is a need for Montecito to have its own planning commission.
Let’s bring this back and have a discussion.”

With that, Supervisor Joni Grey made a motion, seconded by
Supervisor Joe Centeno to defer the MPC
appointment until January 23. Supervisor Janet
Wolf
— installed literally minutes before the fracas began
— cast her first vote in support of Carbajal’s position, but when
Grey’s motion carried by a 3-2 vote, Wolf’s first-ever vote went,
alas, into the loss column.

Lee%20Luria%20and%20Mary%20Belle%20Snow%20a%20the%20BoS.jpgFollowing the first round of political
muscle flex came a second round eyebrow-raiser. Without discussion
or concern, the board gave unanimous approval to Carbajal’s
appointments of five returning Montecito Board of Architectural
Review (MBAR) candidates. MBAR is the design review arm of the MPC,
which makes recommendations and modifications to designs such as
the Biltmore seawall. (It was that MBAR opinion, for example, that
that led to Ty Warner’s appeal to the BoS, an issue viewed with
distain by the board.) However, those provocative MBAR vets
Peter Edwards, Ray Ketzel, Sam Maphis, Michele Michaelson, and Tony
Spann
all got the Supes’ full-on approval to march
forward.

Supervisor Carbajal said the MBAR appointments reassured his
belief that very little will change in the next two weeks. “In two
weeks two things will happen: one, my three colleagues from the
north will have had time to review their own process and become
enlightened that it is the same process they used to appoint their
North County BAR; and, two, I will put forward the same slate of
commissioners I put forward today. I am glad we have two weeks,
however, because it will give the boarder community of Montecito a
chance to attend the next board meeting and in the mean time they
can let their feelings be known about the value they place on the
Montecito Planning Commission.”

Robert Meghreblian, who thought he retired from the MPC in December, may
have to stay on through the January 17 MPC meeting or until new
appointments are made. As Meghreblian is the founder of the MPC,
Montage asked his opinion on the current BOS review. He said he
felt nothing but pride for the MPC’s work and worth.

“In the past four years of its existence, the MPC has reviewed
three to four hundred cases and very few were appealed. It has been
very effective and we took a great deal of care reviewing these
items. The county and community have been well served,” Meghreblian
said.

MA REPORT: Just to top the day off, Montage
went by the Montecito Association (MA) annual meeting to get
reaction to the dissing MA received at the hands of the BoS, but we
heard nothing because they cut their meeting short for
parliamentary reasons.

Officer nominating committee chair Bill
Palladini
said the committee had decided not to offer a
slate of officers for the first time in nearly 60 years because the
organization was going to restructure itself at a retreat later in
January. (You may recall they had ballot problems this year as well, but they seem
to have gotten through it because they announced four new board
members.)

Because the by-laws require officers be elected at the January
meeting, Pallidini said no further business could be conducted.
With that, Past-Present-Interim (we’re unsure) President
Bob Collector
gaveled down and the MA January meeting came
to an abrupt end — leaving Montage to contemplate the bang-up
beginning of Monte-centric politics-2007.

Login

Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.