Montage has been working like an April fool to stave off this month’s tax-doom-deadline. Exhausted from the fooleries, we came to our senses long enough to spin through Montecito and grab these delectable and newsy snap shots.
GREEN ON GREENE: Victoria Greene (pictured in this old photo that Montage managed to dig up), the Montecito Association‘s well-known land planning consultant, will be taking the helm as that organization’s Executive Director. MA’s Board of Directors is expected to confirm her position at their April 10 regular monthly meeting. Anticipating his board’s overwhelming approval, MA President Bill Palladini said, “We expect that she will be a strong asset and will play an important mid level management role for the Association.” The Association has not had an executive director since Catherine Lee departed in January 2004.
Greene stepped in to be the Association’s land use consultant in April 2004. She helped the venerable 60-year-old homeowner’s organization develop community positions on controversial land use projects like the Coral Casino, the Music Academy, and Westmont College. Prior to becoming a private consultant, Victoria served as a department supervisor and planning process analyst for the County of Santa Barbara’s Resource Management Department (known now as Planning and Development). She graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in geography and holds a Masters from UC Berkeley in city planning.
In her spare time Victoria enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling. She is currently vacationing in Mexico with husband Dan Gira and daughter Isabelle – resting up, no doubt, for her challenging new assignment.
WE TASTE HUNGER: Barely two months after purchasing the vacant Miramar Hotel developer Rick Caruso (pictured) is ready to whet the appetite of a craving community and a quench the thirst of the Miramar’s neighbors. Caruso will unveil his concept for the property on Tuesday, April 10, at a town hall meeting, and the public is welcome to peek and critique.
The presentation will be held at El Montecito Presbyterian Church at 7 p.m. In a good-neighbor effort, the Montecito Association will host the meeting and be accepting reservations (969-2026), but they are not taking a position on the project. “We are not endorsing the concept. It is too early in the process,” said MA President Bill Palladini. “This meeting is a forum to introduce the conceptual plan.” Caruso will personally be on hand to present the concept and introduce his first announced project hire, environmental planning pro, Ken Marshall with Dudek.
Caruso’s involvement with the property began on January 26, when he announced he was entering escrow to purchase on the long-dormant hotel from Ty Warner. Since that time, Caruso has hit the ground running to collect community wants-and-needs for the locally treasured, but long-trashed, blue-roofed icon. Since February, Caruso has met with dozens and dozens of community leaders, politicians, government administrators, historians, neighbors, and individuals. On April 10, we will see what he has cooked up and if he has blended the input and created an acceptable recipe for a scrumptious revived Miramar!
WE SMELL CHANGE, BUT NOT YET A BALL CALL: After a year of heated discussion in front of various planning bodies, Hank Hurst (pictured with his family) is going to get to build his Park Lane “dream” house. As reported on Thursday’s Montage-Comment Update, the Montecito Planning Commission voted 3-2 to give Hurst preliminary approval for an 8,191-square-foot Park Lane palladium-style home. The affirmative vote came in spite of some strong neighborhood objections about the size, bulk, and scale of the overall project. The MPC decision reversed a previous Montecito Board of Architectural Review denial and the hearing provided for some spirited inner-MPC squabbling.
The Hurst decision, combined with Wayne Siemens‘ lot split determination a week earlier where MPC (pictured here) created a building site on a sub-standard lot, has insiders asking whether MPC might be going a new philosophical direction. In both the Hurst and Siemens cases, there was abundant neighborhood concern raised, but MPC tilted toward development. With two newly seated MPC commissioners, observers are asking if MPC-2007 is leaning towards property rights over neighborhood rights. It’s too early for a Montage Crystal Ball Call, but the topic at least rates a Montage mention.
NOT TOO TOUCHING: If he’s yours, please take him home and take away his crayons! The Sheriff’s Department is seeking help to ID the person pictured. These photos were taken on March 26 at S.B. Bank and Trust‘s East Valley Road ATM, while the clueless vandal haplessly graffitied away as he was being photographed by the ATM security cameras. The Sheriff’s Department believes the suspect shown is responsible for using a large permanent ink marker and spray paint to vandalize several locations in the Montecito area since March 26. El Montecito Presbyterian Church and Manning Park on San Ysidro Road were also hit. The suspect is tagging “BS 53”, “BS 5”, “No Toy,” and “AYOK.” The Sheriff’s department reports these monikers are not associated with any known local gangs or tagging crews. Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect or other information about the vandalisms are asked to contact Detective Rod Forney at the Sheriff’s Department’s Carpinteria Station at 568-3399. (The suspect was arrested just after we posted this Montage — good work Sheriff’s Department!)
SEEING RED: There is no stopping Montecito Association Land Use Chair Ted Tedesco (pictured), who’s been painting the town red on his new bright red Vespa. Tedesco has been appointed the Association’s land use chair and he told Montage, as he zoomed by, that he asked MA Honorary Board Member Joan Wells to join the Association’s laud use review committee as an advisor. With no big land use cases pending, Ted is spending his infrared energy on the Association’s membership drive, which is now officially in progress.
HEARD AT THE VILLAGE GREEN: Speaking of membership drives, the annual MERRAG (Montecito Emergency Response & Recovery Action Group) membership call is underway. This Montecito civil defense organization gets a huge Montage thumbs up. It’s an all-volunteer resource group and they will be the people with the tools and training we’ll need to count on when the unexpected happens. So prepare now, and join their agency by providing funds and getting trained. Call Geri Simmons at 969-2537 for info….
A not-unexpected lawsuit against the County of Santa Barbara was filed on March 29 by attorney Barry Cappello on behalf of a Montecito activist group (Citizens Concerned Over Westmont Expansion). The suit hopes to block the county-approved Westmont expansion project. The complaint states that if the college is allowed to expand as planned, it would have an adverse impact on area aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, fire protection, geologic processes, noise, traffic, and water resources. No trial date has been set….
There is a Middle Road in Montecito, but last Friday it was hard to find. Veering left was the Presidents Circle Luncheon of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee at the Montecito Country Club where attendees heard Bella DePaulo speak on the role of single women in the “margins and polls.” Among those in attendance were Hannah-Beth Jackson, Helene Schneider (pictured with Montecito resident Lillian Hurst), Supervisor Janet Wolf, SBCC Board Trustee Joan Livingston, Margaret Connell, Alissa Hummer, and about 90 other progressives. Past President Susan Rose sent apologies, as she was recouping from a round the world trip by vacationing in Hawaii and Naomi Schwartz was also absent, but sent her good wishes, which were boomeranged right back!
On the same day, at the same time across Montecito, the Biltmore Hotel was hosting David Horowitz‘s conservative, right-leaning conference. The 35 speakers were highlighted by former CIA Director James Woolsey, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, and former Congressman Tom DeLay….
The City of Santa Barbara and the Chamber of Commerce held their annual State of the City Mover and Shaker Breakfast last Thursday and Montecito was, of course, well represented. Santa Barbara City Councilmember Brian Barnwell (pictured) sparked his bride (former Montecito beat reporter) Camilla Cohee Barnwell and the whole audience when he made a dazzling entrance as the very energy efficient “Captain Lights.”
Montage’s favorite food for thought came as a whisper from a prominent attendee. “If Montecito had a state of the city message it would be simple: We will not approve anything new and, on the income side, just know most of our revenue goes to Santa Maria.”