Montecito Election Results
No need for us to reiterate the national, statewide, and countywide election results. If you are a Democrat, you are ecstatic; if you are a Republican, not so much. It was, however, a good day for supporters of Montecito’s Water Security Team, all five of whom were elected to their respective boards: Cori Hayman, Brian Goebel, and Ken Coates for the Montecito Water District, and Woody Barrett and top vote-getter Dana Newquist for the Montecito Sanitary District.
Congratulations to all. We are pleased to note that Montecito Journal backed all five winning candidates. We thank the former board members for their long service and look forward to the work of the new slates of directors.
Third Lane, Anyone?
Last weekend, we were reminded of the vulnerability of Montecito’s unique location between the mountains and the sea, where the only feasible evacuation route in any direction is Highway 101. Just south of us, in Ventura County, the Woolsey Fire jumped the 101 in three separate locations. Residents from Calabasas to Malibu to Thousand Oaks were hastily evacuated. North of Sacramento, the fast-moving Camp Fire forced residents to flee by car and on foot from the town of Paradise, where a great number of people are reported dead or missing.
In the end, it is up to individual residents taking on individual responsibilities to help in times of need. A good example of that is the Partnership for Resilient Communities, initially made up ofMUS Board chair Gwyn Lurie, formerSchool Board member Brett Matthews,former Santa Barbara City Fire chief Pat McElroy, Ms Lurie’s husband, Les Firestein, Montecito Planning Commission chair Joe Cole, and his working partner and political consultant Mary Rose.The non-profit group rapidly expanded to include Alixe Mattingly, Craig McCaw, and Ron Pulice, plusnewcomers Elizabeth Fowler and Hollye Jacobs.
Montecito’s first priority is prevention or at least mitigation of another mud-and-debris flow such as the one that caused the deaths and destruction earlier this year. Firestein has led the research effort to explore environmentally sensitive debris flow solutions around the world and is overseeing the installation of 16 high-tensile, debris-catching ring nets in Montecito creek channels before the end of this year. In reference to that effort, Ms Lurie notes that, “What we are doing is unique. Instead of going at government with pitchforks, we have come to them with ideas and funding. This is our home, our family, our friends.”
End of the Water Wars
It became increasingly obvious during the last 12 months that reuse of recycled wastewater is an environmentally acceptable and state-fundable solution to irrigate landscaping and recharge local aquifers. Coordination and collaboration between the Water Department and Sanitary District is the necessary missing ingredient for meaningful progress in recycling the 500,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater currently being dumped into the Pacific Ocean off Butterfly Beach.
A year ago, Ken Coates, Cori Hayman, and Brian Goebel – the newly elected members of the Montecito Water Board – did not know one another, but each accepted the responsibility of finding and implementing new ways to supply some four thousand customers in Montecito and Summerland with 4,000 acre-feet of potable water each year by reducing our historic and increasingly unreliable dependence on shrinking snowpack in the High Sierra Mountains.
Two years ago, equally motivated Montecito Water Board directors Floyd Wicks and Tobe Plough were elected to develop and implement a strategic plan to end mandatory rationing, develop an underground storage capability, and unite the board in a common mission. The new directors quickly bonded with sitting directors Sam Frye and Doug Morgan, in pursuing partnership arrangements for desalination, recycling, and groundwater management. Both Frye and Morgan, however, chose to retire this year after 12 years of service.
For nearly a year, the challenge for the Water Security Team has been to educate the community that recycled water reuse depends upon building trust and friendship between Montecito Water and Montecito Sanitary boards. Additionally, it was critical to forge reliable partnership arrangements with Summerland Sanitary, as well as service districts in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, and Goleta.
Sanitary Board members Woodie Barrett and Dana Newquist were elected on November 6 to help make Montecito more drought-tolerant and less dependent upon future rainfall. The goal is to add new sources of reliable water, produced locally, independent of unpredictable rain. Let the work begin. The time to deliver on promises is now. The pieces are in place to attain water security and self-sufficiency, a task no other coastal community in California has fully succeeded in achieving.