Ms. Bonadeo refers to “grandiose expansion plans” at the Botanic Garden, but that is misleading and a complete exaggeration. [Letter.] The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is proposing only the bare minimum needed to keep up with current activities like research and education. Less than one percent of the garden’s 78-acre property will have constructed buildings on it and that is including what is already in existence.

The ridiculous plans of 10 years ago, with about 10 percent built space, was grandiose, and I appreciate that the leadership had marbles enough to cut that plan down to the bare-bones, which this current proposal is.

Only a few trails will be paved to allow access-not all trails, just a few. It will not commercialize or urbanize. Visitors will be limited for the first time in the Garden’s history and the Garden will be closed on red-flag days. Additionally, it will be a recognized shelter-in-place once the Vital Mission Plan is

completed: How does this worsen conditions in the case of a fire? Let’s get the facts straight.-Jocelan Rainey Reif

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The Botanic Garden’s legacy and pioneering design, contrary to Ms. Bonadeo’s claims, are anything but destroyed by the Vital Mission Plan [Letters, 10/22/09]. She asserts an opinion regarding adjustments specifically to the Meadow Terrace area. However, the way the phrase was written implies a drastic change to the design of the garden.

To reference the National Cultural Landscape Foundation, the legacy of the pioneering designers included a botanic garden “planted solely with native plants,” with “site specific work,” and the popularization of “the ideas and experiments taking place at the garden.”

Anyone who has been to the garden can think of how these ideals are carried out over and over-even today. The garden showcases plants native to the California floristic province. And while their habitats are common in California, they are not all common in Mission Canyon: The garden is created space in canyon terrain. I would consider that site-specific.

Finally, taking risks, and experimenting and making discoveries, is what California is about and it is what the garden is about. It makes sense that there be rotating displays that highlight part of California’s melting-pot history (think tea house), and elicit fun and fancy among all-age visitors (Toad Hall and the labyrinth).

Getting visitors excited about where we came from and where we are going as a California society fits well with experimenting; it elicits creativity and curiosity about the world around us. And the thing about experiments and risks are that they are experiments and risks. They are different. They may or may not be liked. But ultimately does it matter whether or not they are liked? They are temporary displays that may lead to inspired, trend-setting, cutting-edge, works of genius that influence generations to come.

The original designers of the Garden, while brilliant landscapers, weren’t brilliant every single design from the start. They took risks and experimented. The Garden takes risks and it is OK to

do that. The process makes us all better.- Donald R-Reif

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Our Botanic Garden is a wonderful resource for our community, and I’m so happy to hear that the County has made strides to approve their Vital Mission Plan.

The Plan is finally going to improve the outdated facilities where volunteers work, scientists do research, and where educators teach our children and adults about the environment.

This community needs to work together to embrace such progress not stand in its way, afraid of change. Santa Barbara is a special community, with a range of demographics a place for older people to retire, a place for young people to learn, and a place for families to grow. We must understand our differences, but work together to make this place even better for our future generations.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a symbol of this synergy where people young and old, able-bodied and disabled can come together to enjoy nature, learn, and grow.

I hope the small group of vocal neighbors, who continue to fight the Garden in everything they do, will back down and realize that the Garden is not their personal nature preserve. Instead, it is a constantly changing, evolving place for everyone to enjoy.

Now that the County Planning Commission and the Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission have approved the Garden’s plans, I hope the Board of Supervisors will give their final stamp of approval so we can start making progress.-Marilyn Royal


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