A Modest Disagreement

By Montecito Journal   |   January 10, 2019

Referencing Dick Shaikewitz‘s letter to the editor (“Ethics in Journalism,” MJ # 24/51), it is apparent that former Montecito Water District (MWD) Director Shaikewitz and I have a difference of opinion over how to provide water security for the residents of Montecito and Summerland. He believes that, contrary to state law, a written strategic plan for MWD is unnecessary because the plan is already stored in his head. Without a written plan, state grants and state funding are prohibited. He claims local, drought-proof, reliable additions to the MWD water portfolio are too expensive. He has favored mandatory rationing and rationing penalties to fund shortfalls in MWD revenues. He is skeptical of recycling wastewater for reuse and believes partnering with the Sanitary District is a waste of time. He sees little value in purchasing desalinated water from the City of Santa Barbara. I disagree with Dick’s opinions on all of these issues, but admire his 12 years of community service at MWD.

Apparently, the voters in Montecito share my concerns. In November, the community overwhelmingly voted for three new Board members with 80% of their votes compared to only 18% who supported Dick’s positions. 

Going forward, both Dick and I now have the same opportunity to attend MWD Board and Committee meetings as resident observers, raising issues of importance and encouraging people of talent to become engaged in problem solving. We can both help our elected leaders plan for the future by encouraging them to make the difficult choices that insure our existence as a strong and secure community.

Bob Hazard

Promises and Lies

Thomas Carlisle‘s submission (“The Mad Prophet,” MJ # 24/51) reminded me of something I’ve wanted to tell Mr. Trump for some time: Go back to a career on TV! With just one of the beef’s being the cost of “the wall,” if ever built, shouldered by U.S. taxpayers versus the Mexican government as previously “promised.” The only worrisome consequence may be lots less Twitter traffic.

Per J.B.’s comment, since when have politicians been known for truth-telling?

Ben Burned

(Editor’s note: Just two comments. 1) There’s plenty of time for Mexico to pay for the wall, either via the U.S. collecting entrance fees from Mexican nationals visiting the U.S. at all the various ports of entry, or by simply designating a portion of the higher tariffs paid by Mexico in conjunction with the new trade deal when exporting goods to the U.S. My preference is the former: a straight-up entry fee. 2) You make an excellent point about politicians not having much of a relationship with “truth-telling.” There is no need for our citing examples, as there are so many from so many, we’ll just leave it at that. But President Trump, being the consummate salesman that he is, should save his lack of familiarity with facts for the big lies, not ridiculous ones such as the size of the crowd at his inauguration, or the size of his… whatever. Former President Obama’s “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan,” was a good one, as was (is?) presidential wannabe Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s “Cherokee heritage.” – J.B.)

Pray for the Cantin Family

I am a boy scout from Troop 33 in Montecito and I would like to make a comment on The Year In Review 2018 by Kelly Mahan Herrick (MJ # 24/52). I knew David and Jack Cantin. David, or Dave to the troop, was our former Scout Master and a dear friend to everyone in the troop. He was friendly, funny, patient, an excellent cook and an excellent father. He was also a strong Catholic. His son, Jack, was an Eagle Scout in our troop and garnered much respect from both my peers and myself. He was also a strong Catholic.

I would just like our community to pray, if they will, for the Cantin family, as we approach the one-year mark from that terrible day. I would also ask the community to pray for our troop, since we also grieve their loss.

Benjamin T Work

Cutting Up the Pie

I read Bob Hazard‘s Guest Editorials over the last month and it seems he wants more than widening 101 for Christmas. He states that “the county’s eight cities… have more to say in funding, widening, and in the design of 101 than Montecito.” His complaint being that Montecito is more populated. I think he needs to rethink that point.

I pass this area quite often and the problem is there are too many on-ramps in the area and that is what causes the congestion. 

I’m also wondering if Mr. Hazard is really for a gas tax for his area or is his position just “Give me my cut of the pie”?

Thomas Carlisle
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Mr. Hazard insists it is important that Montecito have a seat at the table when it comes to the re-design of 101 through Montecito. – J.B.)


A military veteran opened a GoFundMe page to raise money for the border wall. It raised $6 million in four days and over $17 million by December 28: trivial compared to the $5 billion needed but extraordinary for GoFundMe. House Republican Jim Jordan said GoFundMe had a major impact, and to the amazement of many, the House approved $5 billion for the wall.

In light of this, will someone please start a GoFundMe page to pay for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit Venezuela accompanied by CNN?

Chicken Little
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Dreamers such as you cannot really believe that leftist wunderkind such as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez can possibly be swayed by observation, experience, and/or fact. If you do, you are in fact, dreaming. – J.B.)

Unintended Consequences

If illegal immigration were lessened or abruptly stopped, there would be myriad related consequences. Pressure would be off school systems, welfare systems, housing prices (at least at the bottom end), the job front, prison and incarceration costs, law enforcement, etcetera. There would be less need for the bureaucrats that man those positions too, but the administrative state will rebel against any shrinkage, regardless of the absence of a workload. I’d love to witness it but I’m afraid it won’t happen. Too many jobs and positions at stake.

Dale Lowdermilk
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Bureaucracy responds reasonably to reduced work loads: it simply adds positions whether they are required or not, and then seeks new “clients” or “customers” for the newly required services, so there is no need to worry about lost jobs or positions – J.B.)

Caltrans’ Arrogance

Bob Hazard helpfully recounts the saga of Montecito involvement in 101 decision-making (“Guest Editorial” MJ # 24/51). From the 1993 Naomi Schwartz letter to the Salud Carbajal-endorsed closing of the southbound on-ramp to the Common Sense 101 effort, Montecito elected officials and involved citizens have stood athwart widening, yelling “Stop.”

Why then does Mr. Hazard want Montecito to have a seat at the 101 decision-making table?

Larry Lambert

(Editor’s note: You make a good point and surely there is blame to go around. However, as someone who attended the packed meetings at the Montecito Association as well as a few held in the MUS auditorium during that time, I remember clearly what Caltrans offered as Highway 101 “improvements.” Caltrans’ plan called for the removal of hundreds of trees, some dozen homes, and the complete canyonization of 101 running through Montecito. Caltrans was offering a “Montecito Massacre,” if you like, and the community rejected it. Little did we know that rather than going back to the drawing boards to figure out how to retain as much of Montecito’s prized ambiance as possible – the Montecito portion of 101 was one of California’s first highway “beautification” projects –, they instead simply shelved the entire project and went somewhere else. Perhaps a little more diplomacy was in order from the Montecito crowd, and had we known that complete abandonment would be Caltrans’ arrogant response, maybe things would have worked out differently. – J.B.)

The End Stage

It is claimed that the advance and decline of Democracy historically moves through eight stages: 1) From slavery and dictatorship to hope. 2) From hope to courage and revolution. 3) From revolution to freedom. 4) From freedom to abundance. 5) From abundance to complacency. 6) From complacency to apathy. 7) From apathy to consent to government control and dependence and accepted debt. 8) From dependence and debt to bankruptcy and collapse. Stage eight is here. We are the greatest debtor nation and people in history (consult the U.S. Debt Clock Real Time), as to debt: Federal, State, City, County and Unfunded Mandated Liabilities, which includes Social Security and Medicare both projected to go bankrupt, as well as Private and Governmental Pensions, Personal, Mortgage and Credit Card, and Student Loan. Our nation and children and grandchildren have no future. Debt is the ending factor, as a result of our uniformed citizens and deficit-spending politicians. 

H. T. Bryan
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: The good news is that most of that “debt” is owed to… us. So, all we have to do is cancel that “debt” and start over, skipping the slavery-dictatorship stage, of course. – J.B.)

Military Pay Raises

Military pay has increased every year for more than three decades. In 2019, there will be a 2.6% pay raise, yet President Trump recently told the troops in Iraq that they hadn’t received a raise in ten years. Then he said he fought to get them a 10% raise this year. All the troops knew their Commander-in-Chief was lying to them and were no doubt wondering why. Was it just self-aggrandizement and uncontrollable narcissism?

It is reported that his aides and advisers have learned not to try and correct his repeated misstatements of facts because he gets irate and angrily dismisses them. Worse, this is not an isolated incident; fact checkers have catalogued over 6,000 misstatements of facts since Mr. Trump took office. Now imagine if Obama had lied to this extent. Republicans’ hair would catch fire, declare him sick in the head and demand implementation of the 25th Amendment.

Robert Wilson

(Editor’s note: Please reference the response to “Promises and Lies” above. The same applies here and, other than that, we don’t have a good answer for any of it – J.B.)

Ten Good Reasons

Here are ten reasons why Democrat politicians may now consider working with President Trump:

1) After generations of importing oil, our nation is now, thanks to Donald Trump’s leadership, energy independent.

2) He has begun to withdraw American troops from an area that has a centuries’ old tradition of religious warfare.

3) The president created a fair trade policy for this hemisphere. Proceeds from that policy may finance a border wall.

4) Manufacturing in the United States has revived, including a resurgence of steel mills.

5) More Americans have jobs than ever before.

6) Minority employment is at record heights.

7) Since Donald Trump’s election, four million Americans no longer need food stamps. They are now self-sufficient.

8) He is negotiating with China to change their unfair trade policy and stop their theft of our technology.

9) The President is protecting our border from the influx of drugs, gangs, and those who disregard immigration laws.

10) Our lovely first lady is among the millions of legal immigrants to the United States.

Les Conrad

Giving a Fig

Donald Trump’s government shutdown has created total chaos in Washington. And let’s be clear: This shutdown is 100% Trump’s fault. He says that he’s “proud” of the shutdown, and that it will last “for a very long time.”

Last week, the White House was signaling that Trump would accept a bipartisan funding deal. But then, he threw a temper tantrum at the 11th hour last Thursday (while senators were already on airplanes flying home from Washington, D.C.; they’ve since returned to deal with this Trump-created disaster).

We cannot cave in to Trump’s madness. We need to rise up, right now, to demand that lawmakers on both sides put an end to this shutdown – and to make sure Trump bears 100% of the blame. Never in the history of American political life has there been a time like this, when a bipartisan compromise was reached by Congress, but a president balked and unilaterally shut down the government.

And make no mistake: Trump doesn’t give a fig about the safety and security of Americans. His reasoning for putting up a wall is based on a crisis that doesn’t exist.

We cannot let Trump act like a crybaby who throws a fit when he doesn’t get his toy, and we can’t let him be the bully who holds America hostage. We don’t encourage crybabies, and we don’t let bullies win.

We must make sure that this shutdown ends with not one dime for Trump’s wall – and make sure that the American people know exactly who is to blame for this shutdown: Donald J. Trump.

Americans, as you read this message, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service are all working without pay.

Most of these public servants will report for duty, because they care about the missions they’re supposed to be upholding. But going without pay will strain their family budgets to the point that some, inevitably, will not be able to carry out those missions.

We absolutely cannot let Trump shut down the government to get his way. If we put up a fight, history shows that we can stop him.

So far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have been strong in their opposition to Trump’s wall. If Trump thinks that he can bully us into giving him $5.7 billion for his racist, wasteful border wall, he has another thing coming. It’s time to fight back.

We must work every moment, day by day and year by year, to resist Trump’s agenda, contain the damage, defeat hate with love, and begin the process of swinging the nation’s pendulum back toward sanity, decency, and the kind of future that we must never give up on.

Leoncio Martins
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Just so you know, there are many of us who don’t “give a fig” how long this so-called “government shutdown” lasts. We need border security and part of that security includes an effective… barrier. – J.B.)

On Geomorphology

With the devastating debris flows through Montecito, I have been trying to find the silver lining, difficult as it may be. But there is a silver lining, and that is since the creeks have been completely reamed out, we now have an opportunity to restore our creeks to a more natural and balanced state.

First some basic concepts of the geomorphologic issues that may impact property owners living beside a creek. If the creek channel is now wider than prior to the debris flow, it is in the property owner’s best interest to leave it with the new expanded width. Creeks determine their size and shape by the amount of flows, slope, and materials that move through the channel and type of substrate. When humans try to tame the creeks, the creeks are no longer capable of natural processes.

Creeks can be both erosional in steep areas, and depositional in level areas. The eroded material winds up being deposited downstream, and not always where it is convenient for property owners. If a property owner decides they want to reclaim their yard, and they narrow the channel, they are reducing capacity for their property and for the upstream properties. Creeks should not have choke points, which will cause the water and debris to back up, come out of the channel and flood adjacent properties.

The best plan would be to have the largest capacity possible, otherwise you risk flooding during normal high-water years. Montecito creeks have already been altered to a huge degree with bridges, walls, check structures and concrete linings. And yes I understand that this past event was not even close to a normal year, but if we abstain from further modifications, it will only help the creeks natural process as well as help to prevent destructive flooding events.

Before retiring from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, as both a Game Warden and an Environmental Scientist, I have seen many examples of detrimental modifications to creeks and of bad maintenance practices. As an example, I have seen gardeners dumping yard or orchard waste on the creek banks. This material gets pushed downstream during storm events and catches on culverts or bridges, damming the bridges, causing flooding. If the material can be traced back to the property owner, they may be sued for the damage the water does to downstream properties. Other examples of reducing capacity are patios, stairs, any structures such as tool sheds, storage yards, concrete banks, narrow bridges or under-sized culverts placed in the stream channel.

Culverts have been a problem for years. To save costs, contractors or property owners place several small culverts instead of one large culvert. More than one culvert will catch debris between the culverts, reducing flow conveyance, backing up water, which causes the culverts to blow out. The metal culverts wash downstream and lodge on another property or restrict flow in the bridge downstream. Culverts also cause large scour holes downstream and form fish barriers when the culverts are above the normal surface elevation. Undersized culverts are no longer legal to install in steelhead creeks due to this issue.

It is important to note that any work within the creeks or in the riparian zone adjacent to a creek (the band of vegetation that grows along creeks) requires a permit from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, called a Streambed Alteration Agreement, or a 1602. The application for a permit can be found on the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife web page. Other agencies that require notification and or permits include the Corps of Engineers, California Water Quality Control Board, National Marine Fisheries Service and the County of Santa Barbara.

Invasive Vegetation

Prior to the debris flows, many of the creeks were vegetated with non-native invasive plant species such as ivy, pampas grass, castor bean, Peruvian pepper trees, Mexican fan palm, eucalyptus, myoporum, periwinkle, and nasturtiums.

I would like to explain why most of these species are bad for Montecito creeks:

Ivy: Both Cape and English ivy cause the same type of damage. These plants were originally used for erosion control on steep banks. But ivy has shallow roots, about four inches deep, and when it erodes, it almost rolls off the bank, taking the topsoil with it. Ivy also contains toxic alkaloids that are harmful to livestock and humans. The vine sends runners, is fast growing, and grows in dense mats that can plug culverts, causing flooding, and kills other native vegetation including trees. Ivy is also flammable due to the woody stems. The best argument for not planting, and for removing ivy, is that it provides the best rat habitat. The woody stems protect rodents from predators and the rats can make burrows through the ivy. One of the reasons this area has such a healthy rat population is because of all the vines planted by homeowners.

Pampas grass: This grass is a fast spreading and flammable plant, creates flood hazards, spreads seeds by wind or from fragments of a mature plant, and is considered invasive.

Castor bean: This plant spreads with exploding seedpods and the seeds can be viable for up to seven years. It forms thick monoculture stands and competes with native plant species. All parts of this plant are toxic, ingestion of seeds and pods can be fatal to humans and animals. The leaves have been known to cause skin and eye irritation.

Peruvian pepper: Pepper trees have little to no wildlife value, produce abundant litter, and prevent under-story shrubs from establishing. This plant can cause hay fever, asthma and dermatitis and is in the same family as poison oak.

Mexican fan palm: Palms spread by seed dispersed by birds, crowd out natives, consume large amounts of water, impede water flow, and the dead fronds are flammable. Rats are also known to nest in palms.

Eucalyptus: This is a highly messy and an extremely flammable tree that competes with other plants for soil moisture and space. The bark of the eucalyptus can carry embers for over a mile when the wind blows during a fire event, and can start spot fires. The heavy litter and toxins in the leaves prevents native plants from growing underneath the trees.

Myoporum: Myoporum is a fast growing invasive shrub that can reach a height of 30 feet. It forms dense stands that prevent natives from growing, and accumulates dead branches in its interior, making this plant highly flammable. The leaves and fruit are toxic and may be fatal to livestock.

Periwinkle: This perennial vine seems to be a popular plant on stream banks due to its pretty purple flowers, but it is highly invasive and grows from stem fragments that can be transported by stream flow, and it sprouts roots wherever it lands. It can grow in mats, smothers native plants, reduce species diversity and can impede water flows. The shallow roots do not help prevent erosion. Rats can also be found in areas where periwinkle has grown in mats, protecting them from predators.

Nasturtiums: A highly invasive plant with large showy orange and yellow flowers. This plant is also a fast grower, forms mats that can impede flows and prevents native plants from establishing.

Good Native Vegetation

Native vegetation provides food, shelter and nesting sites for wildlife. Pollinators have evolved with our native plant species, and these plants have adapted to our climate. Native plants have other benefits as well, such as deep roots providing bank stabilization along our creek channels. Natives rarely require irrigation, which is a benefit in our Mediterranean climate. These plants can add color and aromas to our yards. Sages have wonderful smells after a rain, and most native plants are pollinated by hummingbirds and both native and European bees.

Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia): Evergreen oaks provide food, shelter and nesting sites for a variety of wildlife, especially birds. Oak trees are also fire-tolerant due to their thick bark, and they provide shade for creeks, which keeps water temperatures cool and lowers evaporation rates. Oaks grow on the upper portion of the banks and are drought tolerant. Cavity nesters, such as woodpeckers also use oaks not only for nesting sites, but also as a place to store acorns for winter. Oak trees do not prevent understory plants from growing and add to the diversity of both plants and wildlife.

California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa): The sycamore is a common tree that grows along creeks, and an important food source for birds and butterflies. This tree provides shade and allows native understory plants to colonize the banks. This tree has deep roots that protect the banks from erosion.

Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis): This willow is the absolutely best tree to plant along creeks. Not only does it provide quality habitat for birds, wildlife and insects, but is the best plant for bank stabilization. The root system is complex, it has both deep roots and surface roots that form a material-like surface that protects the soil during storm flows. This is a fast growing tree, can reach 30 feet in height and can be planted by sticking cuttings into moist soil.

Elderberry (Sambucus Mexicana): The elderberry is a large scrub or small tree, with edible blue berries that can be baked into a pie or made into wine. This native attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and the berries are a good food source for birds, mammals, reptiles, as well as humans.

California Wild Rose (Rosa californica): This prickly shrub can grow up to eight feet high, providing a living fence along the creek. The flowers have a better smell than most of our cultivated roses, and produce rose hips, a fruit that is eaten by wildlife.

Mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana): Mugwort is a perennial herb, grows in the bottom of the channel and is the most common native riparian herbaceous species. This plant can tolerate flooding and is known for lessening the effects of poison oak on our skin when rubbed on the area of contamination.

Sage Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) and Purple sage (Salvia leucophylla): Sage is an aromatic shrub, which attracts bees and butterflies. Both species produce beautiful flowers and are a wonderful addition to any landscape.

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia): This tall shrub is also called Christmas berry since it produces large red clusters of berries in winter when all other berries and flowers are long gone. It provides a good food source of food for a large variety of wildlife when resources are thin.

I encourage everyone to think about restoring our creeks to a native environment for the long-term benefits for both humans and natural resources. There are many resources in the area where you can obtain more information, such as native plant growers, resource agencies, the Botanical Garden and several environmental consultants that would be more than happy to assist you in planning and planting your creek bank.

Some information for this article was obtained from a booklet called “Guide to Native and Invasive Streamside Plants,” produced by the County of Ventura, with contributions from numerous agencies.

Natasha Lohmus
Environmental Scientist


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