Santa Barbara and Montecito were settled by those who recognized a unique and valuable area. The ocean on one side and mountains rising to the sky on the other made for home sites that were attractive and peaceful, in opposition to overcrowded, noisy, dangerous cities.
With caring and determination, planning departments have slowed the pace of our outgrowing these limits too far. Now we are facing a serious contradiction. Directly behind Montecito is a colorful canyon with a rocky stream, waterfalls, wildflowers and the remains of the once-famous Hot Springs Hotel, to which tourists came from the East Coast by train, also staying at the Miramar Hotel in order to bathe in the curing hot water of the springs. Three picturesque Hot Springs Hotel buildings were built and burned, but the hiking and riding trails remain for all to enjoy, and the hot springs still gurgle.
Developers have planned to destroy this paradise by cutting the property into parcels and building up to six large mansions, blocking the views, trails, and access to the early Chumash and Spanish settlements.
So far, two generous donors have given $6 million to the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County to save Hot Springs Canyon for everyone. Another $2 million is needed to purchase the 460 acres to donate it to the National Forest Service in order to preserve it forever. This choice is important for anyone living in the Santa Barbara area. Contact Michael Feeney, at Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, before December 14. Every gift, large or small, is essential to all of us.