Mud in Your Eye

By Judy Ishkanian   |   September 20, 2018

Hello, from Judith Ishkanian. Surely nobody expected Mother Nature to inundate Montecito with mud and debris nine months ago. But she did, It has been a remarkable experience for Montecito residents ever since. According to the Sanitary District records, 10 percent of our population is off-line, whether because of total ruin, major repairs, disruption of business, or out of the area.

Despite the tragic aspect of the months passed, perhaps we will remember, as well, a community united around a neighborly spirit, the volunteerism, and the heroic rescues.

I do advocate that this unity of spirit continues through the next year, because anyone acquainted with the predictions of Emergency Services knows Montecito is not out of danger, yet. Certainly, the Sanitary District is preparing for a return performance by Mother Nature. If, indeed, our seven-year drought ends this rainy season, we have no excuse to be surprised a second time. One of our clever crew has invented a device to block mud from inundating our manholes ever again. Our plant operators gave new meaning of innovation as they coped with the emergency. 

Go to our website,, and click to the slideshow that recounts how our team dealt with the crisis. Also, click on our recent resolution reaffirming our policy on recycled water.

Some people agree with the political dictum “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I do fear this attitude is at work in our community in conflict with ongoing recovery efforts. Well-meaning though the persistent big thinkers may be, I do fear the unnecessary divisiveness caused by the introduction of controversial proposals. Yes, I am referring to Cityhood, Consolidation of Special Districts, and Private Investment in Public infrastructure. 

What’s the rush? Can it not wait until next spring? Apparently not. No sooner were the perfunctory “thoughts and prayers” uttered than the drumbeat for the “big three ideas” – all connected – ensue. Two months ago, I spoke during a Montecito Association meeting at the Public Comment opportunity and addressed this very thing. Most of the audience clapped vigorously after my three minutes were done. I had my say.

Now, I am willing to fight for my Sanitary Board director seat that I was privileged to occupy for the last 12 years unopposed. I know that we need stability and continuity for the next couple of years. When the new water district Board of Directors takes the oath of office, is seated, and adjusts to the vast challenges the Water District faces, it may favor a different set of priorities than it does now. Yes, by the way, the “Campaign” owns the Water District now because two Incumbents stepped down. (The remaining incumbent would be a source for knowledge, if elected).

The Sanitary District needs to maintain its stability in the challenging environment we face as the community is being pushed to plan for its future before it has been made whole. Ten percent of our community may miss out on decisions it, as the injured party, is most urgently needed in the discussion.

Panic and rush are signs of agenda-driven crisis management. We do not have to fall prey to it. Cityhood, with its dangerous pitfalls, needs sober consideration. Question: Do we really want to lose our coveted “semi-rural designation” that we have in the County, in favor of the inevitable “urban designation?” The “urban designation” is favored by developers, high-density housing advocates, and social visionaries. It invites eligibility for Federal Housing and Community Development (HUD) Grants. They would be buttressed by State-mandated legislation for their programs. 

We would not be able to “do what we want,” as State and Federal mandates would rain upon a new city. Revenue Neutrality is a term citizens will come to regret knowing.

I have said how I feel about the ideas of these well-meaning visionaries. I will be forced, along with others to advocate for our Montecito to remain a semi-rural community under the protection of the County unencumbered by the debt burden of cityhood, consolidation, and privatization of public utilities. I will continue to advocate for time to heal before inviting the growth campaign into our midst.

The stability of Montecito Independent Special Districts is the key to recovery. This is the key to true independence. If you agree, vote for me, Judith Ishkanian and our other incumbent, director Bob Williams on November 6. Thank you.


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