If Mark Oliver were sincere in his statement about supporting a country inn at Mattei’s, then he and the Valley Alliance would have shown more acceptance (rather than further contempt) when the Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission endorsed the inn and approved landmark status. [“Mattei’s Tavern Designated Historic Landmark,” 9/15/10, independent.com/built1886.]

The issue is property rights. This property is zoned commercial for the proposed project, and it was moving forward. The Valley Alliance opposed the project and when it looked like they were not going to get their way they used the historic landmark designation as a weapon to impose what they thought was right for the property. This now sets precedent for further misuse of the landmark designation and could affect hundreds, if not thousands, of property owners in Santa Barbara County.

Ironically, Charles Banks, the owner of the property, invited community involvement at least two years ago. His good intentions backfired and Valley Alliance criticized him as being an outsider – laughable because none of the vocal Valley Alliance members live in Los Olivos.

Luckily, the HLAC agrees with the majority of the Los Olivos community who see the incredible potential of this beautiful country inn that will complement our town, encourage local spending, and support existing local businesses

Hopefully, Valley Alliance will re-consider its stance and recognize the difference between activism and responsible activism. Using the historic landmark designation as a weapon because they do not agree with a property owner’s plans – plans that are within the zoning – is not responsible activism.


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