Montecito Fire Updates
On Monday, October 28, the Board of Directors of Montecito Fire Protection District approved Resolution No. 2019-08, which calls for the establishment of a standing committee to explore mutually beneficial locations for new fire station locations in the jurisdictions of the Montecito Fire Protection District and the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire District. The Committee, called the Fire Station Location Committee, will be comprised of two MFPD board members and two Carp-Summerland board members, as well as the fire chiefs from both Districts.
MFPD has been exploring opportunities to provide better coverage to the eastern portion of the District since late 2003. In November 2014, the Board of Directors adopted the Montecito Citygate Standards of Coverage Study, which concluded that the District would need to add a Fire Station in the eastern portion of the District and would be better served relocating Fire Station 1 to an area closer to Highway 101. The study concluded that the current two-station model cannot provide the best response times equitably to all developed areas of the District, a fact that has been relied upon for years as a reason to build a third station. Citygate, the engineering firm who completed the study, surmised that two-thirds of Montecito is within coverage and response times, but the eastern portion of the District is underserved. “While the population and building density is somewhat smaller in the eastern end of the District, building fire and wildland fire potential still exist. Any car fire, outdoor fire, or building fire can spread to the wildland areas. A wildland fire can start and spread from the Front Range anywhere in Montecito, not just within the reasonable response zone of the two stations,” the study reads. “Should a serious fire start in this area, it could more easily grow beyond control and spread to or from wildland areas, then placing the entire community at risk.”
Citygate observed that lining up three fire stations in a linear method across the District would place the center station farther away from the bulge in the coast containing the highest population, risks, and emergency incident densities in the District, according to the study. The study suggests, in addition to adding a third station, that the District possibly consider a new configuration, called “the triangle” approach. The approach includes moving Station 1’s fire equipment closer to the coast, at a fourth, smaller station site on San Ysidro Road, and adding a smaller, more residential station to the eastern portion of Montecito. The result would be lower response times across the District.
Citygate did not contemplate Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District jurisdictional needs in the 2014 study, but in 2016 the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District Citygate Standards of Response and Headquarters Staffing Adequacy Study was published. Citygate identified the need to add a fire station in the center of their jurisdiction to provide equitable response times to all similar risk neighborhoods, provide for depth of response when multiple incidents occur, and to provide for concentration of response forces for high-risk properties. Citygate did not consider the Montecito Fire Protection District jurisdictional needs in the study.
“Taken together, these two narrowly focused studies recommend the addition of three fire stations in two relatively small fire protection districts. A single study considering both the Montecito and Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Districts jurisdictions together will likely identify mutually beneficial fire station locations,” Fire Chief Kevin Taylor told the Board of Directors on Monday. The Committee will be tasked with exploring locations, collecting and analyzing standardized response data, providing reports to both Boards, and developing recommendations regarding the strategic use of resources to improve the District’s emergency response capability and performance.
Directors Peter van Duinwyk and Sylvia Easton were appointed to the Committee; the Board of Directors of the Carpinteria-Summerland District will vote on the action at their meeting next week.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the Board was awarded a District Transparency Certificate of Excellence from the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF). The SDLF is dedicated to promoting excellence in special districts through recognition programs that highlight and focus on implementation and governance best practices. The District Transparency program was created in 2013 as an effort to promote transparency in the operations and governance of special districts to the public and to provide special districts with an opportunity to showcase their efforts in transparency. There are three main subject areas for this program: Basic Transparency Requirements which include current ethics training certificates for all board members, and timely filing of the State Controller’s Special Districts Financial Transactions and Compensation Report; Website Requirements which includes posting the board meeting schedule, district’s mission statement, current audit and budget, and the board of director’s roster with terms of office; and Outreach Requirements. “You are responsible for taxpayer dollars, and it’s clear you take that very seriously. We are proud to recognize these efforts,” said Steven Nascimento, Public Affairs Field Coordinator for the California Special District Association, who presented the certificate.
Of the 2,089 Independent Special Districts in California, only 136 hold this distinction (approximately 6.5%). Last week, the Montecito Water District received the same District Transparency Certificate of Excellence in recognition of its outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance.