Montecito Association Meets
At this month’s Montecito Association (MA) Board meeting, Montecito Union School superintendent Dr. Anthony Ranii gave thanks to the community for the support the school has received following the January 9 debris flow. Earlier this week, the school held a special event, “A Night of Heroes”, to personally thank the people and groups who helped MUS navigate the aftermath of the disaster. Reps from the Sheriff’s Department, Montecito Fire, the YMCA, SBCC, Santa Barbara Unified School District, the Bucket Brigade, and Hope School District were in attendance. “We have so much gratitude,” Ranii said.
Ranii reported that MUS is slated to lose $1.6 million in revenues in next year’s budget, and the school was recently awarded the California Distinguished School award. The campus has recently donated space to the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, allowing the group to store equipment at a locked facility on the site. Several boulders and rocks left over from the debris flow are also being stored on a portion of the campus.
Montecito Fire Division chief of operations Kevin Taylor reported that the level of service the District offers is the same as it was pre-disaster, despite several road closures and damaged bridges on Highway 192.
President Charlene Nagel thanked the board, executive director Allison Marcillac, and office coordinator Susan Robles for being a constant source of report in the MA office. “I urge you to continue to support the MA. It’s the membership dues that pays our office staff and allows us to do what we do,” Nagel said, as she thanked others in the audience.
Abe Powell and Josiah Hamilton with the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade shared with the board their plans to continue to help clean up the community. “I don’t have any clue where we would be as a community without you and your volunteers,” Nagel said. The Bucket Brigade has helped clean out 80 structures so far and has spent considerable time at La Casa de Maria and Ennisbrook open space. The duo voiced concerns about the main corridors in Montecito still being covered in mud and damaged homes. The Brigade is working with homeowners along these corridors to help facilitate demolition of structures that are covered in mud and not salvageable. We’ll have more on this in a future edition.
Montecito Trails Foundation (MTF) rep John Venable reported that the trail system throughout Montecito is in need of repair, and estimated costs to clean up the trails is $1.5 million. The MTF will schedule time to meet with the Land Use Committee to discuss the cleanup and rebuilding. “The trails have been on our radar since the disaster; we look forward to hearing it at the Land Use Committee,” said LUC chair Cori Hayman. “We look forward to getting the trails back up and running quickly.”
Next week, proposed ordinance amendments related to the rebuilding will be in front of the Montecito Planning Commission (MPC) next Tuesday, April 17. As we reported last week, the amendments include allowing property owners to rebuild “like-for-like,” allowing flexibility to increase overall height of the destroyed or damaged structure to comply with the new base flood elevations that will exist for the property after a debris flow event. Property owners would also be allowed to relocate the structure elsewhere on the property to meet new creek setback requirements.
No design review will be required for rebuilding like-for-like, if the exterior is not substantially different than the previous plans. For homes not being built like-for-like, homeowners in a special flood hazard zone would need to apply for a Coastal Development Permit or Land Use Permit, submit site plans, and submit a substantial improvement worksheet that would be reviewed by Flood Control. Last week, several Land Use Committee members took issue with the lack of design review, given the potential to have new topography that will substantially increase the height of homes.
The MA board discussed whether they should submit recommendations to the MPC related to the amendments, or reserve the right to submit comments once the FEMA maps are released in June. The board voted to allow the Land Use Committee to craft a letter that defines the fact that the MA believes that Planning & Development and Montecito Planning Commission should delay any final ordinance decisions until the FEMA hazard map is available. “I’m concerned about the ramifications if we request a delay or halt in these ordinance amendments,” Hayman said. “I fear that we are going to be obstructionists,” added Peter van Duinwyk. The motion passed with majority vote, with Hayman voting against it.
The board also discussed a potential moratorium on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which the Land Use Committee voted on in March. “Construction of additional structures, at the same time we are trying to build primary structures, doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Land Use Committee member Tom Bollay. The potential moratorium – the length of which was not discussed – was formulated at the Land Use Committee, based on the concept that final debris flow and geological studies have not yet been finalized. Other issues include increased construction traffic on already damaged roads, and complications with future evacuations that could pose safety risks for an increased number of residents. Local realtor Dina Landi, representing 50 realtors in Montecito, voiced opposition to the moratorium idea.
The board voted 6-4 to send the letter regarding the proposed moratorium to the Board of Supervisors.