Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   May 23, 2019

Expensive Water

The five current Montecito Water District directors, who raised over $200,000 in campaign funds to help get elected, are close to finalizing a 50 years agreement with the City of Santa Barbara to purchase some of its desal water that could cost the 4,600 Montecito Water District customers about one quarter of a billion dollars.

For at least 100 years Montecito has had about 20 years of normal rainfall followed and interspersed by 6 to 8 years of drought. When the drought ended in 1991, the next drought started about 20 years later. In 2017 and again this year we had lots of rain. The five new directors will shortly have to decide if it is reasonable to greatly increase everyone’s water bill if the drought only occurs about a quarter of the time.

During droughts, the Water District directors have to acquire more water. This is expensive. But must all customers’ bills increase by about $100 a month for 50 years? This is what I believe the five new directors may do. They ran on a platform of water security. But no mention of cost. They were going to acquire City desalinated water and use recycled waste water for irrigation.

Prior Water District boards looked at these two items and felt they didn’t make economic sense. My belief is that, in large part, this changed due to an associate editor of the Montecito Journal. When the prior board initiated rationing during the last drought, (there is less water to sell, but expenses stay the same or increase), this associate editor stated that he lost new landscaping that had cost him a very large sum of money. After that he wrote many articles favoring a new board, and helped recruit, and raise campaign funds to help get them elected.

I have not seen the new proposed desal contract, but there were items in the agreed to term sheet that I feel are bad for our community.

1) The City can provide Montecito water from any source. So that in 20 years of normal rainfall times, the City can deliver cheap Lake Cachuma water, but Montecito pays the much more expensive price of desal water.

2) Montecito will pay over 64.6% of the multimillion dollar cost of the pipe to bring water from the City’s desal plant up to where it can be moved to both Montecito’s and the City’s delivery systems. If Montecito is the only one using the pipe, it should pay for the entire cost. But the City wants it big enough to move all of its potential 10,000 acre feet of desal water so that if and when the City needs to use this water, the pipe is there. Montecito will have about 14.3% of the desal capacity. So that when the City starts using the pipe, potentially up to 85.7% of it, they should pay their fair share.

3) After 25 years the City can cancel the contract.

4) Montecito pays a full set percentage of almost all past and current desal costs as though it is a partner; but it has no voice or ownership in anything. This is owed even if the City adds new desal customers.

I suspect the City is delighted with the terms of the proposed contract. But Montecito would be better off not entering into the contract if it has terms such as above, and instead, simply raising rates to buy expensive water during future droughts, and rationing when necessary.

Richard Shaikewitz
Former Montecito Water District Director

In Concert

(from left) Violinist Paul Huang with Bob and Chris Emmons, on board Hiroko Benko’s Condor Express enjoying a recent whale-watching expedition

I hope this email finds you in good spirit and that you are enjoying the spring season. As the 2018-19 season slowly comes to an end, I’d like to send this season greetings to all of you and to share with you some of the summer concert highlights coming up. 

This summer l will begin with a Far East trip where I’ll return to Taiwan to perform Bartok’s First Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan (conductor: ShaoChia Lu) at the National Concert Hall in Taipei. 

July will include debuts at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival where I’ll perform Bach’s Brandenburg Violin Concerto No.4 with conductor Nicholas McGegan and a trio recital evening with David Finckel and Wu Han, as well as my return to Music in PyeongChang Festival (formerly PyeongChang International Music Festival) in South Korea and Colorado’s Crested Butte Music Festival where I’ll be opening the newly built Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

In August, I look forward to return to the beautiful Tippet Rise Arts Center in Fishtail, Montana for a recital evening with pianist Roman Rabinovich and a collaboration with the Escher String Quartet. I’ll also return to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center again with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for two separate chamber music programs.

A complete list of concerts can be found on my website: www.paulhuangviolin.com under the Calendar Section. I look forward to the opportunity to seeing and welcoming you at some of these concerts during the summer season. Meanwhile, I send my warmest greetings to all of you and wishing you an enjoyable summer.

Paul Huang
Facebook: @Paul Huang, Violinist
Twitter: @PaulHuang9
Instagram: @paulhuangviolin

Loves Those Trails

Our backcountry trails, thanks to some really good weather and the dedicated help of Montecito Trails Foundation members, are in fine, nearly Alpine condition, as chronicled by Claudine Trabuc

I was born and raised in Provence in France. I have been living in Santa Barbara for almost thirty years and considered myself a pretty avid hiker. Sometimes in the ’90s, a friend took me to Cold Spring trail in Montecito for my very first time. I was so impressed with the scenery, trees, vegetation, running creeks, and the tranquility that I instantly fell in love.

Personally, it is actually more than just walking and climbing mountains; it is a true spiritual experience to be there among the silent nature & connecting back to our ancestral roots. Since then, I have discovered many other trails in the region either through other nature lover friends, Sierra Club guided groups, or reading books online. I particularly favor the front country because of the proximity and easy access. It is pretty unbelievable that one can drive a few minutes and be in the mountains with gorgeous vistas of the ocean, city views from Carpinteria to Goleta, coastline, islands, and hundreds of acres of plain forest with huge oak trees.

Heavy rain brings many kinds of blooming flowers, new waterfalls, cascades, and green chaparrals. I am blessed enough to travel around the world and I always add a few days in a National Park wherever I am. I have discovered many types of alpine parks, natural reserves, and protective areas, all very diverse and beautiful but Montecito and the Santa Barbara area are definitively on the top of my favorites list.

After the mud slides and fires we suffered in January 2018, it is a mind blowing experience to be back on the trails, which are still there after all. Some parts of them have destroyed sections but they are walkable and truly enjoyable. The once dried up small creeks have now much deeper depths and all trees and bushes along them are all gone. It is rather shocking, but it is actually more open and looks a lot like the Alps.

The great advantage is that now all the old obstructed creeks are like rivers, so for our next coming storms the water and debris will be drained down without causing damages as it did in the past. The landscape is definitively changed forever but also for the better and many thanks to the Montecito Trail Foundation that creates, maintains, rebuilds, cleans, and raises money for the existence of those trails for the public enjoyment. I hope to run into you on the trails.

Happy hiking!

Claudine Trabuc
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Thank you for the exuberant trail photos you’ve sent along with your missive – J.B.)

“Work” or “Slavery”?

Low unemployment numbers. “Those who do not think that employment is systematic slavery are either blind or employed.”

I recently read a quote comparing jobs to slavery. Surprised me to hear that, but I suppose that was my thinking when I aimed to be an independent farmer. As a teenager, I didn’t look forward to working for someone 40 hours a week until I was near dead. It didn’t make sense, either, just to provide food, shelter and clothing. I also once heard a man say we should try to give as much as we take during this life. That made sense. Yet, how does it work out when some people are born wealthy and most are not? But then I once heard a man say the born rich are denied the opportunity to make it on their own. Luckily (?), that wasn’t my fate. I was happy to make it on my own: saving money, lucky real estate investments and eventually becoming an independent farmer. 

How does one know, or measure, if they gave as much as they took? One million avocados? A popular toy or welcome invention? Service to humanity? Is wealth and a robust economy a meaningful goal in this life? I’d say peace of mind is probably the most desirable goal, and likely harder to achieve. Perhaps we should give thanks what we have… and don’t have.

Steve King

Garbage is God-like

I love garbage and so should you. Garbage is our future. We should glory in our garbage. It’s what America makes best, and our next great resource. It’s our history in the vertical, and a Mafia gold mine. It’s how we will be judged in the future, and our government’s disgrace.

When the digs are made on the mounds called New York City and in the west called La La Land, on a continent once inhabited by a profligate race called the USAs, all will be revealed to the archeologists. Even their religious preferences will be known, symbolized by the glass and plastic statues of their gods called Co Ka Col A and Doc Ter Pepper.

Gene Tyburn

Seeking Self-Sufficiency

The New Reality is people who need access to an ADA-compliant toilet that would allow them to seek employment and remain self-supporting will find there is little is available in Santa Barbara. Especially, in the non-profit NGO sector. 

Yes, it is May 2019. Except properties donated for non-profit use have few requirements for accessibility and there are few fire codes for shelter-plus-care programs. If people are killed or maimed, that’s what insurance is for. 

I have been involved in human rights since the 1960s and have worked with abused children much of my life. I have taught your kids, buried your dead and now find myself excluded from most any opportunity to volunteer my services. 

As long as there are people who use wheelchairs, I do not think anyone can make the statement that the U.S. unemployment rate is zero and there are jobs for “anyone willing to work.” 

I find myself excluded from purchasing private insurance because of pre-existing conditions and I am excluded from accessible-affordable housing because much is not required to be ADA-compliant. No health care. No housing. No jobs. Who is taking my share of the government subsidies and excluding people with disabilities because of our disabilities? Who do I get to blame for this discrimination: the socialists or the communists?

Thanks for listening.

Karen Friedman
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Wish we had an answer for you, but there simply is none forthcoming – J.B.)

Turkey Time

Fun times at Penny Bianchi’s today. I heard a noise in the brush and turned to see a huge bird perched on Oprah’s chain link fence. I backed up and it flew down: Holy Toledo, a wild turkey! I hustled over to the house and told Penny a turkey was on her property. The first thing she said – swear to God – was, “I was just thinking I wanted to have turkeys on the property.” 

Penny and her housekeeper, Martha, came out and we all took cell phone photos and videos over the next fifteen minutes. Have you ever heard of someone in Montecito that raises domesticated turkeys? Because this hen stayed on site for the next four hours until the time I left. And weirdly, it spent most of its time just outside the doors to the kitchen. You can’t make this stuff up.

Dan Seibert
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: I play a lot of golf at Rancho San Marcos (my favorite local course) and there are many wild turkeys out there. There has been, in fact, an over-abundance of turkeys and they have given birth to multitudes of baby turkeys. But, we’ve never heard of anyone raising the domesticated kind locally. Perhaps someone reading this will know. – J.B.)

The D-Day Landings

Next month, on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, only 30 American veterans of that gory first day of battle will stand with President Donald Trump and other Western leaders as they honor the memory of all those who died that day, and lament the rapidly-arriving moment when the eye-witnesses of this most grandiose moment in 20th-century global history will have been whisked away by our Creator.

It will then be the task of historians and the great-grandchildren of deceased veterans to remind these new generations of the unfathomable heroic and courageous efforts tens-of-thousands of 19-and-20-year-olds made on that day in behalf of the survival of Western civilization as we know it.

Already, knowledge of World War II is fading among those born after 1990. We shouldn’t hold young people responsible for not knowing that which they aren’t taught. 4,414 Allied soldiers died in one day, in one battle. Half of those deaths occurred on Omaha Beach during the first five hours.

Compare that to a total fatality count for the Iraq War of 4,424. America’s greatness and exceptionalism stems from its tenacious allegiance and devotion to universal ideals rooted in Christianity, Judaism, the Enlightenment, and Classical Antiquity.

Twice in the 20th century Americans selflessly and voluntarily took up arms not to protect our continental homeland from imminent invasion, but to douse and eradicate the practices of evil and tyranny from the native lands of our friends and allies.

The American nation-state has done more in the last 180 years to lift the boot heel of oppression from the necks of those enslaved than any sovereign political entity in the history of the world. Yet, there are those among us who don’t wish our new generations to know these great moments of valor in our history.

Americans must stand vigilant in seeing that the elements in our history which add up to our greatness and exceptionalism as a people, which express and make manifest our finest hours, be taught, recalled, remembered and commemorated in frequent and timely ways.

May the memory of D-Day be indelibly imprinted on the consciousness of every American generation not yet born.

David S. McCalmont
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: And, anyone thinking of visiting France this year or next, should consider attending this year’s or next year’s D-Day Landing commemoration ceremonies. And, if you can’t make it around D-Day (June 6), you should make sure to visit anyway, particularly Sainte-Mère-Église, where an effigy of U.S. paratrooper John Steele hangs on the church tower there to this day, and its surrounding museum. The latest one is called “Operation Neptune,” and it puts visitors on an unsteady ramp into a C-47 Skytrain along with phantom GIs as they ready themselves to parachute into hostile territory on the night of June 5. Anti-aircraft fire can be seen from the ground below as the airplane rumbles and shakes and your fellow parachutists jump out at the command of a bellowing sergeant. It’s an experience that will make you proud and one you’ll long remember. – J.B.)


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