Holiday Re-Do

By Montecito Journal   |   January 4, 2018

I have a couple ideas to help our local economy in regards to the recent tragic Thomas Fire. My suggestion is to have a Holiday Re-Do on February 25. This gives all the businesses, companies, nonprofits, clubs, and individuals an opportunity to re-do their parties and events that were canceled due to the Thomas Fire.

This will help the local economy and bring some fun to the fairly quiet winter season. By having this in February, it gives everyone time to re-plan their events, send invitations, engage venues, and caterers, et cetera.

Gifts can be part of the fun, even to donate to charity. Let’s get this idea spread!

One more idea is for landlords of commercial space to forgive a month of rent for local businesses affected by loss of business due to the fire. If they can’t afford a full month of rent, how about a partial reduction?

Spread the word.

Karen Lehrer

(Editor’s note: Sounds like an excellent idea. However, the weather is often iffy in February and if we have a particularly cold or wet day, it could all be for naught. Our idea would be for a big weekend all-day 20 percent (or more) off everything, to re-introduce the joys of shopping Coast Village Road! – J.B.)

Resolutely Local

I’ve been home for only two days and know of three local shops that are closing, citing the Thomas Fire. This fire has decimated our already struggling stores and farmers. Recently, at Montecito’s Farmers Market, there were less than seven stalls. This is a defining moment for our community. We can make a difference if we shop locally. So that’s my New Year’s resolution, which I started on December 20: I will not shop online for 60 days.

Hopefully, by the end of February, I will have developed new spending habits, healthier for my community.

If you want to join me, please forward to a friend.

Jane Walker Wood

Michael Douglas Too

I really enjoyed James Buckley’s lead piece in the new Montecito Journal glossy edition entitled “Conversations: Anne and Kirk.” It is an interesting biography with 22 nice photographs.

However, the great local Douglas contribution, to help convert the Wilcox Property on the Mesa into the “Douglas Family Preserve,” was not mentioned in the article. It would be another very good subject to include in your local magazine about the Douglas family.

So, I suggest creating another Montecito Journal article that focuses on Michael Douglas, living in the love generation, and the acquisition of the Wilcox Property. The acquisition took a few years to accomplish. Campaigns of people were making big contributions, trying to save the unique property from becoming a large, dense, residential development, which had been proposed by developers with building plans and projected ownership costs. 

I think it was Michael who told his parents, Anne and Kirk, about the negative consequences of the development, and they completed the proper property salvation. Wilcox was a landscaping supplier, a huge nursery.

I imagine Michael’s life would be an interesting story. There are many stories in Montecito. Michael enrolled in UCSB when I graduated, during the love generation. He lived on Hot Springs Road, near where we “Mountain Drivers” used to sit in a couple of hot baths surrounded by wine before Michael’s time. The house with the hot spring baths that was above the chained end of the road burned down. Mine also burned down in the Coyote Fire, 1964. I never met Michael Douglas, but I do have a 20-foot-long photo of the Douglas Family Preserve.

Jé Goolsby
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: There were so many things I had to leave out, including many of the things Michael helped with during his time here in Montecito, but thank you for the suggestion; we’ll try to follow up. – J.B.)

Firefighter Farewell

I am one of many who were in the path of this great fire, which will go down in history as the Thomas Wildfire of Southern California. At risk from this fire were my life, my home, and everything I own. Homes in the fire area were defended by over 8,000 firefighters. On the eastern front of the fire, near the city of Fillmore, California, firefighter-engineer Cory Iverson laid down his life in my defense, and the defense of his homeland.

I can say, as a veteran of the United States Army: “He fought a war for me.”

Firefighter Cory Iverson had a high calling for his life. A calling that is expressed by this beautiful line of Scripture: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 

I believe that Firefighter Iverson answered to yet another high calling, and did so just as faithfully. It is a call that comes down to us from the great civilizations that preceded us, ancient people such as the Greeks and the Trojans, who believed in courage, and the defense of the homeland at all costs. Thomas Macaulay wrote down these lines, which they all believed:

And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods…

To firefighter Cory Iverson, the temples were the homes and lives of those who lived in the path of this fire. And the ashes were all of their memories. Everyone in this connected to this event needs healing right now. Healing from grief, loss, and pain. 

P.F. Froemming
Santa Barbara 

A Brilliant Brilliant

Just wanted to say I enjoy reading Ashleigh Brilliant and Ray Winn, who rebuts global-warming letters to the editor. Count me a skeptic with a degree in science, no less, if zoology counts. [James] Buckley is spot-on too. 

Steve Close
Santa Barbara

Backfires for Wildfires

The recent wildfires in Montecito and other places have exposed what many say is the lunacy of no longer conducting backfires, et cetera.

California has lost about 10,000 companies that all have fled the state to Texas and Florida due to far too high taxes and regulation and the threat of environmental lawsuits. Today’s Democrat Party should consider instead going back to helping the poor with a hand up, not a hand out and to deregulate our state.

The California public unions are underfunded by a staggering $1.3 trillion. The Republican Party is meanwhile nowhere to be seen; Americans are greatly suffering as a result.

What President Trump is doing is giving the job creators a big tax break. The general left-wing idea of “central planning” has never worked in any country – flowery speeches notwithstanding – only free enterprise run by people who understand how to run business will help America. In my view, President Trump is alone trying to do that.

Everyone realize please that China is on the move, and in 2025 they will launch no less than 100 warships being built right now. China is quietly grinding away the sovereignty of all our allies in Asia.

Perhaps only when America has its back to the wall will we wake up and stop worrying about dumb issues and instead focus on our survival as a nation.

Morten Wengler

(Mr. Wengler is former ranch foreman for tennis champ Jimmy Connors.)

Mandatory or Not?

Around 8:30 am on the Saturday of the fire, we evacuated our home as directed by the Office of Emergency Management. This was a mandatory directive that included our street, which is four blocks up from Coast Village Road. The next night (Sunday) we called around to various businesses on Coast Village Road, not really expecting anyone to answer (and there were only two), as we understood that businesses and residences north of the 101 were also under the same mandatory evacuation order. We were surprised then to find Honor Bar and China Pavilion open for business. More surprise: on Monday’s KEYT Thomas Fire Update, Rob Lowe and his family were being lauded for opening up their home and feeding first responders. Last I knew (probably from your celebrity-entertainment columnist, Richard Mineards) the Lowes too were in the mandatory evacuation zone. 

What gives? It’s disruptive and costly to involuntarily leave your home on short notice. Did we in fact have a choice to ignore the official directive and stay put? My son, who also lives in Montecito, didn’t feel that the two officers who pounded on his door Saturday were extending an invitation to leave.

I hope that the number of Montecitans who stayed in place and did not evacuate as directed was tiny; a dangerous and selfish decision with serious implications for the very people who are dedicated to protecting our public safety. 

We are thankful for the excellent emergency mobile communications, outstanding local news coverage, and especially the brave men and women on the fire lines – our homes, our businesses, and our lives were in their capable hands. 

Diane Graham

(Editor’s note: Well, this is the United States, and “mandatory” is a difficult status to enforce and/or maintain. In fact, if you really didn’t want to leave your home, you could have stayed. But, you couldn’t have driven your vehicle in the evacuation zone and your life would have been in jeopardy. We know people who did stay to protect their homes. But it was a lonely and dangerous life for the nearly 10 days of mandatory evacuation. Better to have left and allowed the firefighters to work unmolested by recalcitrant homeowners. – J.B.)

Beautiful Bacara

We cannot say enough good things about how fantastic the Ritz Carlton Bacara has been to the fire refugees, many of us from Montecito. They slashed their rates, welcomed all of us, and our dogs (lots of dogs)! To a person, their staff has been kind, helpful, and understanding of the trauma we experienced having to leave our homes in the midst of a firestorm.

The Ritz Carlton just bought and began operating the Bacara in November. Mother Nature’s welcome of them to the neighborhood hasn’t been so great, but their welcome to us in the midst of this disaster will never be forgotten!

Kim and Kip Seefeld

(Editor’s note: My wife stayed at the Coast Village Inn for a couple days and they not only reduced their going rate, but also included a $10 chit at Jeannine’s. The Biltmore was closed, but otherwise, my guess is they too would have reduced their rates. The Bottle Shop at Middle Road stayed open throughout, serving firefighters with whatever they needed. No doubt there were other businesses that pitched in to help. We salute them all. – J.B.)

Statue Needed

Montecito and the City Santa Barbara and should erect a statue to commemorate and honor firefighter Cory Iverson and to show gratitude to the 8,000 firefighters and 911 first responders who risked their lives to save the lives and properties of others during California’s largest blaze ever.

The world would know that Santa Barbara, along with people living in the area, are thankful for these courageous men and women. The statue could be build with private funds or with private and public money.

I am not wealthy, but I would donate $100 for this project.

Raul Hernandez
Santa Barbara

Out of Control

Well, that was embarrassing! A state with one of the largest economies in the world was not able to stop a fire from spreading massive and devastating destruction in one of its wealthiest and supposedly most loyally politically connected counties. The costs are in hundreds of millions of dollars; the fire destroyed over a thousand buildings and damaged hundreds more. Over 8,000 firefighters were battling the flames around our homes for weeks. And, of course, all of that caused massive evacuation of many local areas including Montecito.

What a disaster.

But let’s look closer.

Every big fire starts with a small one. Some idiot leaving tree stumps burning in the middle of a farm field, thinking (or not thinking altogether, considering the Santa Ana winds), “What’s the worst that can happen?” Kids experimenting with a magnifying lens in the sun, or a smoldering cigarette butt… And such fires should be never a surprise for California, as they happen with various degrees of ferocity every year. But somehow, they always are a huge surprise and we seem to never ever be prepared, and suddenly California faces a huge crisis that it obviously cannot handle. No proper equipment (how about the closest water tank plane being in Colorado?), not enough firefighters so we have to call for help from the other states (Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington), and obvious lack of organizational skills and inter-agency coordination as our civil servants scramble to get things under control, always doing too little, too late. Firefighters die on the frontlines of the battle, houses burn down, lives get destroyed

So, who is responsible for all these disasters?

“Nature,” of course. It’s all about those damned winds. It really is easy to blame someone (or something) who (what) cannot be held accountable: the winds. Not the California government, which spends endless millions of dollars on supporting illegal immigrants and other interests, but not on their own taxpayers whose houses get reduced to piles of ashes. Not the California government that would rather save the world than its own residents.

Where are the fleets of fire planes and helicopters on a standby ready to spring into action?

Where are the satellite early-detection systems able to instantly dispatch the specially trained firefighters to the specific area where the fire originates?

Where are the massive firebreaks around California’s most valuable farmlands and coveted coastal real estate?

We had barely 30 helicopters available to fight off 270,000 acres of flames; do your math as to how many acres of raging inferno per helicopter. And every time a firefighting plane showed up, it was so unique it made a special TV report.

That is utterly ridiculous.

And what if the bad winds persisted for a couple of more days? Scary thought, right? Most fires are caused by human error or misbehavior that is hard to prevent. California has no regular lightning or other critical weather condition that ignites a natural fire. The only natural problem we have experienced for more than seven years is a drought. However, even there our local authorities obviously prefer to complain about the problem rather than prevent it.


Because it’s generally easier to talk than to actually do something, and it also fills budget coffers with emergency money. I personally know a guy who created the artificial rain technology that helped turn Israel’s deserts into lush farmland. When the whole California drought story became a big deal, he called every possible government office here trying to sell his artificial rain technology to us, but guess what? Not even a single state or local bureaucrat called him back. Apparently, nobody in California government needed the rain. And quite obviously, nobody needs to invest in prevention of Thomas-like fire catastrophes.


Looks like the core priorities of our current government are elsewhere.

California is a leader of world technology but prefers to focus the problems that the majority of its legal citizens do not consider vital. Is it really that important to go solar? As for me (after two weeks of evacuation), I just wanted to go home. And I do not want to ponder if my home is on fire because of some gusty winds. We spend billions of dollars on mostly unnecessary things, while our firefighters drive outdated trucks that cannot even park on the hillsides. There are many cutting-edge firefighting technologies waiting to be implemented: high-tech extinguishers, firefighting drones, piercing stream (that blasts liquid through solid structures), et cetera. Strangely, we do not see our state bureaucrats rushing to fund any of the above, even though that would immediately and directly benefit those they are supposed to serve. Curiously, some of these technologies lately have been bought and are being adopted in… China. Our government, however, is still not interested in them because of the broken priorities and the easy escape from responsibility for the annual out-of-control fire disasters by blaming “nature.”

Well, at least they’re not blaming Russians this time around.

Lidia Zinchenko

(Editor’s note: You make some excellent points, Ms Zinchenko, but in the end it was that army of more than 8,000 professional firefighters that prevented the total destruction of our community. The good news, by the way, is that because much of the brush that hadn’t burned for up to 65 years is now gone. Montecito needn’t worry about another fire for a least the coming decade. – J.B.)

Buying Locally

Polly may want a cracker, but we know she didn’t really get that hat on this visiting scrub jay

Wishing everyone happy holidays! The suburban wildlife at 1355 Danielson Road in Montecito came through the fire and would like to express their gratitude to the fire department and firefighters. And they’d like to remind all Santa Barbarians that this is the time to buy locally as much as possible, whether it’s doing a winery tasting, eating at local independent restaurants, buying books from Chaucer’s, getting cheeses and charcuterie from C’est Cheese, shopping at the farmers market, or maybe just picking up a bag of peanuts (much appreciated by the scrub jays and the only way I can get them to move off my iPad so I can use it).

Polly Frost

Good Government

In the hyperbolic political times in which we live, it has become fashionable for some on the right to claim that private business is always better at delivering goods and services than the government, and that all taxation is theft. 

As we enjoy the holidays and look forward to 2018 in our beautiful, comfortable, nearly entirely intact neighborhoods, it’s worth it to take a moment to reflect that our homes and way of life were protected by a Herculean effort of thousands of highly trained, brave, courteous public servants paid for entirely by tax dollars. 

Yes, let’s debate the proper size and scope of government, but let’s never again be heard claiming that “the government has never done anything for us.” 

Eric Trautwein

I Told You So

I’m not pretending to be a Sybil, but I have been predicting this holocaust for the last three years, as most of my clients can attest. I was thinking people would die in Mission Canyon, because homeowners are not seeing the reality of their situation, which is a desperate need for more aggressive thinning and cleanup of their trees and shrubbery. Of course, the canyon is a beautiful-looking place, but when you live in a (dry) forest, one must realize just one cigarette or match can start what just happened.

I have been offering this partial remedy to the situation for many years but have yet to see anyone act on my idea, so I’m going to spell it out now for the public to use or ignore.

Here it is; I call it the Tyburn Safety Initiative:

If you own a pool, it could be used to suppress any fire that could be approaching your home, without putting you in danger. Simply install a Honda pump on your pool deck that will suck water out of your pool and send it to a few Rain Birds placed in areas that are most vulnerable near your house. All you do is start the pump and leave.

For the first time, that pool – which most Santa Barbarians never use – will do you some good. And, yes, it just might save your house.

Another thought: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the insurance companies that were saved a couple hundred million dollars in payouts gave a bonus to all the fantastic firefighters who saved this town?

Gene Tyburn
Santa Barbara

Montecito’s Living Memorial

On the morning of December 24, Trish Davis and I organized a group of local residents and children to decorate the Community Christmas-Hathaway Memorial Tree. With help from the Manning Park rangers, the Paterson family, Bob and Mary Gates, Susan Brown, Dolores Johnson, Bea Molina, and many “passersby,” the tree got dressed up for Christmas. Megan Abundis of KSBY-TV recorded the activity for her television audience on Christmas Eve.

Rhonda Hathaway stopped by earlier to see the tree and give some background of the early days of decorating the tree when it was at San Ysidro and the 101 freeway. She remembered the tree first being decorated in the secrecy of night beginning in 1962. That tree became diseased and was cut down by Caltrans in 2011, the same day the Memorial for Don Hathaway occurred. Fast work was needed to secure a replacement tree and get permission to plant the new tree in Manning Park. After a fundraiser, a blue aptos was secured from Northern California and planted December 1, 2011. A commemorative stone was placed under the tree, and the decoration continued with the help of the Beautification Committee of the Montecito Association and Montecito Union School.

The tradition of the Community-Hathaway Memorial Tree lives on!

Dana Newquist

Upper Village Security

What ever happened with the upper village security guard who was threatening to make mass arrests of folks wanting to temporarily leave the parking lot outside Union Bank? I have a feeling lots would like to know.

Ben Burned

(Editor’s note: Although we haven’t been able to confirm it, our guess is that the unwanted publicity – thanks to alert readers such as you – has driven the guard to seek other employment. – J.B.)

Happy New Year!

The National Debt is now $20,612 trillion. We are the greatest debtor nation in history. A $650-billion increase, since President Obama left office with a $19.962-trillion national debt, a $9.335-trillion (88%) increase from when he took office. We have $109.422 trillion in unfunded liabilities, which include Social Security and Medicare, both projected to go bankrupt, as well as unsustainable federal employee benefits and pensions. Our growing national debt and our unfunded mandates make us the greatest Ponzi scheme in history.

Our debt problem has been imposed upon us, our children, grandchildren, and future generations by both Republican and Democrat members of the Senate and House of Representatives, who have the power and responsibility to control spending and to decrease the national debt. They have failed us and apparently are going to continue to do so: witness the new tax reduction law with no corresponding spending reductions. President Trump and Congress do not recognize their responsibility to end deficit spending.

The debt is increasing with disastrous consequences to our survival as a nation and people. We will be unable to finance: debt interest and payoffs, defense, Social Security, Medicare, health care and human services, education, infrastructure, federal employee costs, et cetera. We will be a failed bankrupt nation and people.

H.T. Bryan
Santa Barbara


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