Montecito Center to Close

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   August 9, 2018
Ben Romo at the Montecito Center, which will close at the end of this month

The County of Santa Barbara announced earlier this week that it will transition County services out of the Montecito Center on Coast Village Circle by Friday, August 31. The Center was opened in March as a central location for residents impacted by the Thomas Fire and debris flow to access support and services. 

“The County went above and beyond what is expected of a government agency, and I’m proud to have been part of it,” said Ben Romo, director of the Center and Community Recovery and Engagement coordinator for the County Office of Emergency Management. Romo was based out of the Center, which opened in March at the former home of the Orfalea Family Foundation, at 1283 Coast Village Circle. 

“There was a broad gap in services for property owners, who were and still are dealing with a complex set of challenges,” Romo said of opening the Center. The County committed to keeping the Center open for three to six months; August marks six. 

Since Montecito Center opened in March, County agencies connected directly with more than 250 property owners who are moving forward in their recovery and rebuilding efforts. More than 700 residents have accessed some form of support through the Center with varying levels of need. Dozens of local, state, and federal agencies, nonprofits, donors, and community efforts have partnered with the Center over the past six months to create a coordinated and comprehensive model for recovery and rebuilding. The County’s Planning and Development Department assigned impacted property owners with skilled case managers to be a single point of contact through the rebuilding process; Romo tells us there are only a handful of residents who have not yet contacted their case manager. 

“The Montecito Center has served as a critical source of support for hundreds of local residents who were impacted by recent disasters,” said First District County supervisor Das Williams. “While the County is transitioning out of the Center, we and our many partners in the government, nonprofit, philanthropic, and volunteer sectors will continue to assist people in rebuilding their lives in the wake of these disasters.”

While the County’s role at the Center will phase out as of Friday, August 31, some community partners are exploring the possibility of maintaining a physical presence beyond August to support constituent needs. Partners physically located at the Center include California Hope 805 Counseling Program, Habitat for Humanity, Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, United Way of Santa Barbara County, 805 Conservation, County supervisor Das Williams’s staff, Women’s Economic Ventures, Institute for Collective Trauma & Growth, and the American Institute of Architects of Santa Barbara. The County’s preparedness and recovery website,, maintains an inventory of key contacts and resources.   

For more information about the transition of services at the Montecito Center, please contact Ben Romo at or the Center directly at (805) 845-7887 or To find their case manager, impacted residents should call (805) 568-2090, send email to, or visit the Planning and Development Zoning Counter at 123 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara 93101.


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