An artist's rendering of the Randall Road Debris Basin | Credit: Courtesy S.B. County Flood Control District

The County of Santa Barbara will be granted possession of 630 Randall Road — the last property on the devastated street to be added to the debris basin that Public Works has been digging for the past 10 months — on March 19.

The home was destroyed in the Montecito debris flow of 2018, taking the lives of hand surgeon Dr. Mark Montgomery and his 22-year-old daughter, Caroline. Two more people lost their lives farther downstream from Randall Road, which is bordered by San Ysidro Creek. Catherine Montgomery had tried tenaciously to hold onto the property in her husband’s and daughter’s memory. The other seven property owners on Randall Road accepted the county’s offer to purchase their properties.

The eminent domain action to enable a 9.2-acre debris basin was a higher need for the greater community, the county argued, to prevent the next debris flow from inundating downstream homes. Already, work had wrapped on Phase 1 in January for the big dig, which went around the Montgomery property, said Jon Frye of County Flood Control, leaving a functional basin for some hoped-for rains that failed to materialize.

Montgomery and the county remain in talks to determine the value of the property, but Judge Benjamin Coats of Ventura Superior Court allowed the county to take possession of the land and begin excavating it for the debris basin in his February ruling. That ruling will not be challenged by Montgomery, her attorney Todd Amspoker said.

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