Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   November 7, 2019

Unchained and Untamed

Thank you for running “The Nation-State Solution” (Letters to the Editor, MJ # 25/42) though “The Nation-State Problem” would probably been more fitting. I appreciated Bob Hazard‘s expose (“The Public Pension Problem,” MJ # 25/41) of CA and SB (as reported by 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam), fiscal problems attributed to retirement benefits paid to civil servants.

These findings support my recent claim that, in government, absent limitations provided by free market competition and choice, greed will run wild. Government employees, generally, aren’t to blame. Most are decent folks, but the monopolistic, self-policing structure of government is bound to wreak economic havoc. There are no personal incentives to be efficient or restrain spending. There are, however, powerful, unbridled incentives to increase power through law and income through taxation. The inevitable tyranny, waste, fraud and abuse, follows.

I appreciated Larry Bond’s supporting comments re my school piece. I too, am a huge fan of Thomas Sowell, but I do not endorse vouchers. While they may be a far better option than public school, they still violate what should be the unwavering purpose of the law: to defend property; not rob some to pay for the dubious education of others. Moreover, vouchers will doubtless lead to crony-capitalist, state-approved and regulated, costly “education” mills. Besides that, they will still be bitterly opposed by the even worse public education establishment.

Have you ever considered how un-green public schools are: massive transportation problems, gigantic CO2 footprint, unnecessary fuel and paper consumption? Wow, how fast can you get out of public school, freshen the air, and really start to live and learn?! May the public education establishment quickly die on its own. Its day is long past. Unshackled people pursue a bountiful education as they see fit. The rest suffer meager state provisions.

Steve King

Montecito’s Nobel Winning Author

At the turn of the 20th century, 25-year-old previous Montecito resident Thomas Mann published his novel Buddenbrooks

Twenty-eight years later, 1929, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Mann visited Palestine around this time to perhaps familiarize himself more with the Holy Land as he continued writing Joseph And His Brothers

 The first two volumes of “Joseph,” which Mann thought to be his best book, were published in his native Germany, in abstencia, 1933-1936. 

 Other tidbits about Mann? A star-studded reception in Los Angeles 1938 that rivaled anyone’s ever; visits to the sanitarium, houses all over the world, Mann in his entirety is intriguing reading.

Matt McLaughlin
Santa Barbara

Stack ‘Em and Pack ‘Em

Where do you want more affordable and specialized housing located in Montecito to comply with recent state mandates signed by Governor Newsom? He signed bills in September and October removing barriers and prohibitions to ensure more housing is built. Will you sit back, move out of state, shape implementation on these multiple mandates, or work to take back California? 

Each and every bill reduces local control and the ability to regulate in the best interests of homeowners. Each new law impacts every resident in the form of supply, access, density, valuation, and results in fee increases to pay for water, infrastructure and services.

Owners can build two Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on parcels that no longer require any on-site owner occupancy, and restrict local permit fees and other barriers to ADU development. Bills to provide financing and insurance are likely forthcoming. 

Density bonuses and requirements for multi-family developments have increased with even less parking required. The new norm is “inclusionary” housing whereby the person deemed ‘affluent’ pays more to rent a unit in order to cross subsidize his or her neighbor’s rent. The City wants 15% inclusionary units, up from 10% now. The City Planning Commission will discuss these issues on 11/14. The City controls Coast Village Road, Eucalyptus Hill, and most of Alston Road down to the beach. What happens in the City impacts Montecito. 

Of high interest locally is housing for the homeless. The Montecito Association is a Homeowners voluntary membership group of area Districts represented on the Board of Directors which meets monthly, with paid staff. It advocates on behalf of our community and participates in community discussions on issues that impact us. Traffic from Ventura to Santa Barbara is a concern, which some say can be resolved by more housing here. 

Last week, the Montecito Association’s Executive Director attended the County’s discussion to update their action plan addressing housing and homelessness. In January, 2019 HUD’s Point in Time Count, the City counted about 890 homeless and Montecito, four. (Reminder: Coast Village Rd is in the City, not Montecito) 

The MA claims that “Our ladies we are trying to help here in Montecito would be ideal candidates for such housing,” as the CA Housing First Program for Homeless Program, another new mandate of our Dem super-majority legislature. Problem is that the Housing First Program is not designed or intended to serve ‘ladies’ or abandoned foster kids. Nor is this program intended to serve mentally ill requiring long term care or medical treatment. 

The CA Housing First Program is intended to permanently house in neighborhoods the most chronically ‘unvetted’ homeless: the ones who re-cycle through jail or addiction programs; the early released felons, and others with complicated, problematic lives.

It is a warehouse program of stack ‘em and pack ‘em in individually leased 10’ x 10/ rooms with no on-site manager, no parking, and no criteria for occupancy in family neighborhoods. Moreover, due to a case originating in Santa Barbara, CA law prohibits limiting occupancy of unrelated parties. Lease a bedroom to one who brings in five friends to split the rent, or lease a bedroom to set up shop.

The Eastside Coalition formed in October to fight smart to prevail, to stop 10 bedrooms added between two custom homes on South Alisos Street. Eastside residents demonstrated democracy requires participation, and that organized advocacy pays off for those without money that typically drives decisions. Join the EastsideCoalition@gmail.com.

Implementation of this and other homeless housing mandates will be decided by the County and City at upcoming meetings: Tentatively, at the City on Tuesday November 19 or 26, and by its Planning Commission on November 14. 

Be part of the solution. Speak up, get involved, be part of the local plan to push back on Sacramento because if not, Sacramento will determine every aspect of life forever changing the South Coast and Montecito.

Denice Spangler Adams

Name Withheld

The Democrats, after spending 2 1/2 years and millions of taxpayer dollars on the endless Russian collusion are now conducting a sequel on the Ukrainian one behind closed doors. Sunday, a somber and visibly annoyed Eric Swalwell (Rep. Ca.) conceded in an interview with Chris Wallace that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s death was a success but now his nose is out of joint because the leading Democrats were not made aware of the planned raid. Surprise! To add insult to injury, the Russians were informed. Also kept in the dark, The New York Times, Don Lemon at CNN, Joy Behar and many enlightened foul-mouthed personalities, so let’ s get ready for media retaliation.

In this instance, President Trump and the U.S. forces are to be congratulated. After years of endless questioning, allegations, accusations that may or may not be lawfully proven, Eric Swalwell, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Chuck Schumer and Co. should not be surprised by President Trump’s wanting to keep the operation top secret from the Dems: “Quae sunt Caesaris, Caesari!”

By the way, let’ s not forget the cruel, savage executions of journalists Daniel Pearl, James Foley, the Jordanian pilot and countless innocents. Hopefully the “impure” dog that chased the ISIS leader down a tunnel will survive: that would be such an irony.

Also, because I live in a local retirement home, this letter might not make me very popular and there might be some repercussions so, if you publish my letter, would it be possible to just sign my initials? I would appreciate it. 

Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Oh well, we won’t print your name, but see what one side has done to the other? “Progressives” flaunt their “Feel The Bern” or “We’re With Her” stickers while Trumpsters coil in fear of their cars being keyed or worse if they display any kind of support for the President. It’s kind of weird, but… – J.B.)

Tear Down That Wall

Better than a wall would be enforcement of E-Verify. If it were more difficult for illegals to get jobs, then there will be fewer illegals. But there is no national consensus for E-Verify enforcement, so the illegals will remain, their children will become voters, and America will probably soon elect a socialist government.

Larry Lambert

Guidance Wanted

Thank you for Bob Hazard‘s Guest Editorial on generators (“Power to the People,” MJ # 25/42). His research is invaluable in the process of figuring out this new world for us all. May I ask if there are any professional installers who are generally recommended? Finding an honest and reliable professional is where my search is currently focused.

Thank you for any guidance you might provide. 

Martin Jenkins
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: If you Google “generator installers near me,” up will come “Top 10 generator installations near me.” Also www.homedepot.com homeservice for licensed professionals can be helpful. There are many more choices. Installation of a home standby air cooled generator should take about one day to complete. A surge in home generator sales is expected following the LA Times front-page story that reported, “Nearly a million homes and businesses were thrown into darkness as fear that monster winds would down power lines and spark wildfires.” Ouch – B.H.)

Power to the People

A year ago, I installed a full home backup generator and thought I would share my experience. Prior to moving to Montecito in 1990 we lived in Malibu, where portable generators were a necessity and have always had one and have much experience with them. These were simple “suitcase” size 1-2kw gas powered units using extension cords to a few lights, TV, etc., but they can’t power high-load appliances such as refrigerators and can’t be connected since appliance power cords are inaccessible behind them. For decades I’ve had Hondas as they always start, notwithstanding neglect: when you need it, you need it “now” and never have they failed.

Initially, I looked at battery backup and quickly learned that absent a solar system to keep it charged, notwithstanding manufacture claims, they simply don’t have even nominal capacity to run basic home loads for more than a short time. For example, the $6,500 (+ hardware and installation) Tesla Powerwall (Siemens is similar) rated at 7kw is actually rated at 5kw continuous and much less depending on peak power draw. So a typical two-unit instillation with 10kw would power my house at its most minimal power draw for about 10 hours. 

A generator was the next and most practical option, and I wanted the gold-standard, a natural gas powered Generac with its automatic transfer switch. Other than after 1/9, I’ve never had natural gas shut off and if it ever was I wouldn’t want to remain in the house without hot water and heat. East Coast friends swear by them. However, after much investigation and working with Garrett Powell (an authorized Generac dealer and a real expert) I decided it was going to be too expensive, complicated, and require a dreaded County land-use permit.

Generator selection is actually the easiest part of the decision. The difficult part is connecting the generator to the house and unfortunately this gets little public attention. It’s a big deal. The connection is done with a transfer switch attached to the house electric panel that in its most basic form has three positions: 1) the panel is connected to the Edison main; 2) the house is disconnected from the main; 3) the house is connected to the generator. This is to prevent “back feeding” the Edison grid with your generator power and electrocuting anyone working on their system. Transfer switches come in different configurations: fully automated like the Generac that sense power interruptions, determine if they are transient, start the generator and when up to operating speed and output automatically switch from Edison to neutral and then to generator with only a short power interruption; a three-position manual switch; and a simple UL sliding-bar circuit breaker interlock attached to the panel. 

The size and configuration of the electric panel, space for the switch and wiring, the location of a gas line and the generator determine the total cost with the actual generator possibly being the cheapest component. The most economical would be if the generator and gas line are close to the panel and most-costly if they are remote, understanding that the generator needs both heavy electric power cables to the panel and wiring for the sensing and switch control circuits. Sometimes they can be run through an available attic while others could require trenching for underground cables.

Once these issues are decided, the sizing of the generator is pretty straightforward. We have a 3,600 sq ft home with a two-car garage, so not much load. Fortunately, the new Edison smart meters have a scrolling display, one of which is instantaneous load in kW. One simply turns on all likely equipment and reads the meter. In my case I turned on literally everything except our ½ house A/C and the meter showed about 5kw and 9kw with A/C. I then set the house for when we were on vacation and it draws about 0.9kw running refrigerator/freezer, Internet and a few low-load devices. 

Generators have two ratings: maximum power and continuous power. Since generators don’t like (and don’t last) running at maximum, it’s recommended to buy one with twice your likely continuous load, so I was looking at a natural gas Generac 13kw. 

Garrett Powell looked at the house and told me the panel location, configuration and need to locate the generator about 100 feet away on the side of the garage made use of their automatic switch prohibitively expensive so we decided on a manual one. Okay so far. But then he told me I needed a County land use permit with a scale site plan, acoustic data for County analysis and neighborhood notification. I met with a County counter rep who gave me the very thick application package, the application fee schedule and timing of few months out for an administrative meeting (hearing?).

I was still interested in proceeding, but cautiously now, and sought additional guidance and learned that the permit required fire department approval with potential upgrades to my sprinkler telemetry and driveway access and that the County could require a much, much larger generator, likely 20kw+. Why? Who knows? The whole thing was simply too much effort – and risk – so I went to Plan C, a large, but portable (wheeled), gas generator that is easy to connect to the panel when needed.

Garrett Powell came up with a brilliant solution to the transfer problem with a $150 UL approved circuit breaker interlock sliding bar that prevents closing the generator connection circuit breaker unless the Edison main breakers are off first. He installed 50A waterproof outlet next to the panel and made me a 50’, 50A connection cable that during likely power outage periods I leave connected with the plug end next to the garage.

I bought a Honda 7000iS generator that sits under a cover in the garage and when the power goes out I roll it outside, plug in the panel cable, turn off the Edison breakers, slide the interlock up to block them and free the generator breakers to turn on. The generator has electric start (with pull-cord backup), can run at 5kw continuously, runs on its five-gallon tank for 6.5 hours at full output and 18 hours at quarter output (likely). The whole thing takes about two minutes. One very minor issue is that the starting battery is only charged when the generator is running so I connected to a small battery maintainer when stored. The main downside is that it uses gasoline. I have four five-gallon containers and a small, battery powered, transfer pump. Gas doesn’t last forever so I add a preservative that increases its usable life to one year +. But to be safe I recently pumped last year’s gas into one of the cars and refilled the containers with fresh gas. 

Costs were as follows:

Electric connection, interlock and cable – $1,250

Honda 7000iS generator – $4,900

Spill-proof gas containers: 4 @ $50 – $200

Battery pump – $30

Total – $6,380

I know a gas generator solution isn’t for everyone and certainly isn’t optimal. But the cost and hassle to permit and install a natural gas generator was far greater than the occasional inconvenience. On new/remodel construction I’d guess the additional cost of wiring and gas piping for a future automatic, natural gas generator would be a few thousand dollars.

David Green

Public Platform Positions

As we gaze out to sea, whether from the harbor, any of our local beaches, or while driving on the 101, we can’t help but notice the oil platforms that are strung along our coast like pearls in a necklace when they are lit up at night… and now we are being asked to decide what should happen to them as they are headed towards decommissioning. Should they be taken down, destroyed entirely or in part, or left standing and repurposed? There are many different opinions and ideas that have been raised.

On Wednesday, November 20, from 1 pm to 5 pm, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) will host a free public Expo, “Alternative Uses of the Oil Platforms,” to allow organizations, agencies, and members of the public to have input into the decisions to be made. Various vendors – non-profit and for-profit organizations – will be presenting their ideas at tables throughout the SBMM and via 15-minute presentations inside our Munger Theater, followed by an important keynote speaker.

SBMM believes an open discussion of ideas is important for our community as we move towards the next phase of the Santa Barbara Channel oil platforms. This Expo will give the public the opportunity to be heard and to have input in the decision-making process, and we hope you will help us bring this important event to the attention of the community.

Rita Serotkin

The Route to the Sun

Joel Hayes and Keegan Taccori, welcome to The Pursuit Zone. Joel is the pilot and Keegan is the copilot. They are the first team in the world to drive a solar powered, 100% electric camper van from Alaska to Argentina. The adventure is called Route del Sol and the goal is to make it to the bottom of South America by the summer of 2020. The first part of Route Del Sol has taken them through the landscapes of Alaska, the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. Now they’re in part two and making their way down the west coast of the United States. You can learn more at routedelsol.com.

(Editor’s note: Thanks to Matt McLaughlin for sending this to us! – J.B.)


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