Victoria Greene
J'Amy Brown

IT’S THE PROCESS STUPID: Montecito’s planning and permit process has been under attack for the past year, deemed by critics as arbitrary, unfair, unwieldy, and nonsensical in style and approach. So the Citizens Planning Association, Environmental Defense Center, and Montecito Association teamed up to provide a forum on planning and public process basics earlier this week.

The forum was dynamite, blowing away any misconceptions about use and abuse of land use planning. The information ranged from elementary to proficient. The MA’s new executive director Victoria Greene offered an awesome and easy to understand overview, dissolving the jumble and mystery of land planning lingo. Jennifer Stroh offered tips from the podium, the EDC’s Cameron Benson talked advocacy, S.B. City Councilmember Grant House talked access. Nels Henderson and Naomi Kovacs demonstrated facilitation.

Who was there? The audience of nearly 50 ranged from the sophisticated to the novice. Montage spotted SBCC Trustee Joan Livingston, Second District Deputy James Kyriaco, Coast Village Road Association’s Jan Atkins, landscape designer Pat Brodie, city councilmember Das Williams, and MBAR member Marsha Zilles.

Who wasn’t there? Montecito’s noisy, dueling, planning process rivals seemed oddly uninterested. The Montecito Association, a co-sponsor of the event, was represented only by novice boardmembers Gene Sinser and J.W. Colin. MA president Bill Palladini attended but ducked out early. Montage didn’t spot anyone from Voices of Montecito.

It takes spunky spirit to stand up, and only the most informed know when to shut up, so Montage applauds those who took the time to show up to and school up!

J'Amy Brown

HIGH FLYERS: One of the more entertaining sports on High Road has been watching Fed Ex and UPS trucks take air over a huge root-enhanced pothole. However, when I spilled over the rascal root on a bicycle recently and landed, shall we say, without merit, road-root fun had come to an end. Getting a fix, I imagined, would be a rough road – months of haggling and begging for asphalt attention. Wrong! One call to County Public Works Road Repair, and within four hours a hazard sign marked the spot, and within four days High Road was once again smooth sailing. Kudos to the smoothing and soothing team at County Public Works Road Repair – they’re the Montage Heroes of the Week!

J'Amy Brown

LUNCH LESSONS: Montecito Union School offered food for thought (and breakfast) last Friday at a sold-out parent breakfast, focusing on healthy choices in school food. On hand for the event, and pictured from left, was Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Chef Ann Cooper, nutritional director of the Berkeley Unified School District, who offered more jolt than the MSU coffee with her keynote describing the school cafeteria’s menu selections of granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, and health muffins. She was joined at the podium by Kate Adamick, center, an institutional meal reform advocate from New York; state Assemblymember Pedro Nava, a strong advocate for a California farm-to-cafeteria program; and Santa Barbara School District Superintendent Brian Sarvis. The leaders and assembly left with hungry-drooling for better school food.

GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY: Montecito residents Harold and Annette Simmons (pictured) have given a surprise $1 million gift to their closest neighbor, Westmont College. Announced today, Westmont said half the gift has been designated for student scholarships and the remainder will go toward endowing a chair in art.

“We believe that Westmont College is an asset to our community,” Simmons said. “This gift is in recognition of the dedication of David Winter to Westmont College and the Montecito community.”

Harold and Annette Simmons

Simmons, a native Texan, is a self-made American billionaire. The son of rural schoolteachers, he graduated from the University of Texas. At age 29, he borrowed money to buy a small drugstore and within a decade he had built it into a statewide drugstore chain, worth more than $50 million.

He sold the chain in 1973 and launched a career as an investor, where he proved to be an intuitive and creative financier. He now controls numerous companies, including five corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Simmons is a noted philanthropist, contributing more than $300 million to various causes.

For the regular Montage for this week, go here.


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