Mr. Salud Carbajal, First District Supervisor in Santa Barbara County, is described on his website as “committed to protecting our cherished natural environment and resources,” as “championing the development of a comprehensive customer service program to ensure responsible, effective, and accountable government for all residents,” and for heading a “save the oak trees” project.

I call the ethics of Mr. Carbajal into question. Mr. Carbajal acquired a half-million-dollar federal grant to build a “safe routes to school sidewalk” in Montecito under the guise that this was for child safety. This sidewalk is to be built along a road which already has a natural, safe dirt path that is utilized by dozens of local residents daily.

The grant for this walkway was given and the project started without notifying local residents, many of whom will lose property, landscaping, and historical trees (to be replaced with drought resistant plants for which no one has any plans on future maintenance).

Over 700 signatures have been attained to stop this project—but Mr. Carbajal refuses to listen and to give the “customer service for responsible government” he boasts about. If he is so committed to protecting our cherished natural environment, why is he spending a half a million dollars to destroy it? If he is so concerned with the oak trees, why is he responsible for attaining a grant that will remove several trees unneccessarily?

This project is simply being pushed forth by Mr. Carbajal because wealthy supporters who have given to his campaign and sponsored fundraisers for him are the handful of people that want this done. Stop the corruption, Mr. Carbajal! This money could have been used for a community that truly needs a safe path to school, not for the benefit of the wives of his wealthy friends and funders who don’t want to muddy their $300 tennis shoes by walking upon a natural dirt path. Not for a project the majority of the residents do not want and were not notified about.

If you want proof of how San Ysidro Road will be maintained, look no further than the North Jameson Lane bike path between Montecito and Summerland. That’s a five year old Coalition for Sustainable Transportation/ Carbajal project. Look at the roundabout near the Von’s shopping center on Coast Village Road—another COAST project.

As you stare at the barren, prison-like eight-foot chain link fence, weeds ,dead plants, and increased traffic mess, you’ll get a forecast of what’s in store for San Ysidro Road.

Shame on Salud Carbajal!Heather D. Maher, Montecito,

* * *

I am weary to state that politics as usual has become the status quo of the County and Montecito’s District Supervisor, Salud Carbajal. Joined by other Friends of San Ysidro Road, I met with Mr. Carbajal to provide him with history and ask some very direct questions regarding a federally funded grant that will rebuild a current walking path along San Ysidro Road, replacing it with a new walkway with ADA requirements that don’t adhere to Montecito’s policies within a residential area. The guise of the new plan is that it will provide a safer pedestrian path in this area.

All of the plan’s expensive improvements will not make the side of San Ysidro Road any safer. The only thing that may provide more safety would be a six-foot wall or slowing down the speeders and cell phone users. (How about a $1,000 fine?) We proved to Carbajal that the Montecito community at large and all the residents along San Ysidro Road were not notified of the decision to even apply for a grant until the funds were already received. Thus, a major change was being make to our Community Plan without prior or current support. Even our Montecito Association and Land Use Committee did not lend total support to this proposal at that time, or as of this date.

Proponents of this grant have falsely claimed that those of us in the community that are opposed to the plan have advertised incorrect information. We have done nothing but speak the truth and try to educate our general public of the facts.

Basically, we claim that there is an existing path that has been in need of repairs by the County for decades. The County has allowed the curbs to wear down to below grade level, thus allowing the compact earth to erode. The County has not maintained the path nor trimmed out any vegetation that may impede the walkway. We proclaim that a newly designed, $392,000 walkway is extravagant and a waste of the taxpayers’ money.

Moreover, the continuous planting plan is more appropriate to a park than a residential area. The new walkway does not have a scheduled maintenance plan in place, and if our parks and other streets are any indication of how the County currently maintains its pedestrian areas, this new area will look just as bad after the initial project grows its weeds and loses its decomposed granite surface. Also, about four very formidable trees that line this road will be removed along with years of protective screening vegetation.

We have tried to speak for the historical residential character of Montecito which does not include sidewalks. (No, we have never stated they were to be cement; but decomposed granite acts like a sidewalk when it has hardening agents making it tough enough to meet ADA requirements.)

There was an Alternative Plan that recommended that the curbs be replaced, path be cleared, and that trees and vegetation trimmed. These alternative plans were never brought to the attention of the community.

At the end of our meeting with Salud Carbajal, he told us that he would not return the grant funds. (They had to date spent over $85,000 just on site review.) And he hoped we would enjoy the changes brought about from our demands that an actual detailed plan be presented for review.

So, I have learned a huge lesson. Even in our protected and unique Montecito, it is about politics, not about what is good, fair, and right for our community. I hope that our Montecito Association will stand against this type of forced development now and in the future, or we could lose the entire ambience of our paradise forever.

“Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone; they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot!” So true, Joni Mitchell!—Maryanne Brillhart, Montecito


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.