Guarding the Gateway to Montecito

Plus John Travolta and Salud Carbajal's Greens

J'Amy Brown

The hottest topic of conversation this week in Montecito is not the best yam recipe, but the status of the new mixed use project proposed for the northwest corner of Coast Village Road and Olive Mill Road-well known locally as the site of the 76 Station.

J'amy Brown

The property is owned by John Price, who has proposed to tear down the gas station and put up an 18,000-square-foot condo-commercial space on the site. Last Tuesday the project came up for discussion at the monthly meeting of the Montecito Association and Danny Copus, president of the Coast Village Road Business Association, along with several Montecito neighbors, voiced concerns about the project’s height and traffic impacts.

By Friday, rumors were rampant that Price, who has been sheparding the project along the planning process since April of 2005 and already succumbed to a variety of changes, had become frustrated with the process and planned to pull the plug on project. “At this point the owner is weighing his options,” the project’s architect, Jeff Gorell, told Montage today.

A computer generation of what the revamped area could look like.

The project’s uncertainty put Montecito Association in a bit of a quandary. They had set December 3 for a full-blown community discussion about the project. While the site is located on Coast Village Road, giving authority to the city of Santa Barbara, two sides of the project border Montecito’s residential streets. Because of that, and because the project will be a featured gateway to the Montecito community, the Association and the residents want input.

MA president Bill Palladini however, took the change in stride, saying MA’s discussion and action will be put on hold until the fate of the project is certain. “It would not be appropriate for us to review the project if it is on hold or being revised. We certainly respect the owner’s right to take a deep breath and step back if he wants to.”

One thing not getting stepped back is the city’s draft negative declaration, issued November 12. “The public has until December 12 to comment on the negative declaration,” explained Peter Lawson, the city’s planner assigned to the project. Lawson said the planning staff found no significant environmental impacts associated with the proposed project and, because of that, issued a draft mitigated negative declaration.

Lawson also reported the project is tentatively set for City Planning Commission hearing on January 17 and a staff report on the project will be issued prior to that meeting. Asked if he had heard that Price might pull the project, Lawson was non-committal: “Right now, as I said, the project is only tentatively scheduled for the January 17 agenda.”

[A paragraph has been retracted from the original version of this article due to a misquote from a neighbor of the project. J’Amy Brown regrets the error.]

Fire and Ice: It was a warm last Thursday, with Santa Ana winds warming the night air, so it was not unusual to find the stars out and Montecito packed in ice. The ice of course were buckets of diamond cooling off the necks, ears and shoulders of local gentry. And the stars-well, in Montecito we call just them “neighbors.”

Montecitans attending the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Kirk Douglas Award last Thursday were, of course, the award’s name sake Kirk Douglas along with our other local stars like Dennis Franz, Carol Burnett, Christopher Lloyd, and Rob Lowe.

The festivities surrounded the Film Festival’s award and fundraiser, which was created in 2006 to recognize someone who has made outstanding contributions to the art of film. Kirk Douglas was not only the first recipient, but the award’s namesake as well. This year’s honoree, John Travolta spent most of his podium time praising the legendary Douglas. “An award like this makes you think about what you’ve done. Have I been a good man? Have I been a humanitarian? I don’t know but I know that Kirk Douglas has,” Travolta said.

Among those awed by Travolta’s long film dossier were Stan and Betty Hatch and Linda Hatch; Sandy Stahl, Lorraine Wilson, Margo and Jeff Barbakow (he’s SBIFF Board President), Sharol Siemens, Lynda Milner Seth and Michael and Nora McNeely Hurley. While Travolta carried home the Kirk Douglas Award, every eye in the room was on his wife’s feet. Kelly Preston, hands down, walked off with the best shoe award.

Green Thumb:County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, is seems, has a knack for raising the green. The First District Supervisor has launched his re-election campaign with a birthday event scheduled for December 7 at the Montecito estate of Nina Terzian. But it’s not the nice house or the birthday that has people talking about this party-it’s level of giving that has some heads turning and others simply turning green. Before the invitations went out, Carbajal already had several hundred thousand dollars generated from this event pledged toward his campaign coffers.

Supervisor Salud Carbajal
J'Amy Brown

“This level of local political giving in Santa Barbara is unheard of,” mused one long time political strategist. Carbajal’s invitation marquees the $15,000 patron level with the names of Chad and Ginni Dreier, Suzie and Bruce Kovner, Mark Melchoiori, Peter and Stephanie Sperling, Jay Steinbeck and Bob and Marlene Veloz.

The $10,000 co-chair list includes Erine Bryant, Dan and Rae Emmett, Lillian and Jon Lovelace, Wayne and Sharol Siemens and Alice Willfong, and there are about 100 other supporters, gifting from $5,000 to $1,500, to round out Carbajal’s birthday bouquet. In the efforts of true disclosure at the bottom rung is yours truly honoring Carbajal’s efforts on the community’s behalf when I led the Montecito Association. Whatever the giver’s rhyme or reason, one thing is certain, without pouring even one ounce of water on his crop, Carbajal seems to have farmed a lot of generous friends!


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