Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   December 26, 2019

Our Banana Republic County

Last month another article appeared in the WSJ about our Cannabis County. Unfortunately, every national story, and there have been many, is like a drip that slowly corrodes our historic brand.

This story contained familiar themes: the odor, values, and the reality that cannabis tax revenues continue to underwhelm. What was laughable, however, were statements by certain Supervisors that they were doing “everything” they could about the smell.

Odor is not a concept; it is a physically measurable reality. This why other jurisdictions mandate scientific Odor Testing and Sealed Greenhouses. Not in SB’s Andersen-like reality: Any Human: “I’m really enjoying [Padaro Beach, Summerland Beach Café, Wine Country, etc.] but the smell is noxious.” Grower: “I’m not smelling anything.” Any Human: “HUH?”

We are a $950M county being managed without a shred of sophistication. Residents, attorneys, and community groups continue to bow at the altar of our county’s Political Monarchy yet nothing changes. For years they have spoken vaguely about health, existing industries, and odor eradication but without change, it’s all spin.

Other counties limit the size of their cannabis farms, yet SB created a loophole without an upper-acreage limit. This is why we are now home to the largest pot grows in the world. In areas with much smaller farms, the odors have been shown to travel for more than a mile. Therefore, as new grows come online (a majority are not) the odor zone will expand – look at a permit map – it’s coming. Yes, even in areas that we would consider Montecito-adjacent. Don’t point uncaringly at your neighbors or our $2B wine industry whose very existence is threatened and shout “not me.”

MJ industry publications have written about the efficacy of Sealed Greenhouses. These facilities do not vent; hence, no odor or health concerns. Here, however, the industry helped craft the ordinance and if given the choice, why saddle yourself with greater costs, i.e. love their margins – screw they neighbor.

Had our Pols pushed back slightly perhaps, minimally, newly constructed greenhouses would be sealed. Instead, even these facilities have vents that extend into the sky like a huge middle finger to anyone who cares to notice. What’s maddening is that as Venture moves in these mandates could easily be embedded as a cost of doing business. The returns would still be crazy good!

The article also mentioned the anemic cannabis tax revenue – $5.6M in year one. Remember, this is revenue, not profit and – don’t forget – because our Pols decided to tax based on cash revenue rather than acreage, SB lost as much as $30M in year one alone. Don’t you think this would have caused some consequence or, minimally, a re-examination of this sweetheart scheme? Nope, not in our Banana Republic County where there is apparently neither oversight nor accountability.

There is more, but for now I’m hoping we can all agree – everything is subjective, at least in SB.

Jeff Giordano
SB Resident

Let’s Get Planning

First, I join the chorus that wishes you and the owners of the Montecito Journal Media Group all the best in your publications. In addition to the new viewpoints, I especially look forward to a robust electronic media platform.

Second, I write about your editorial “Montecito Takes A Seat At the Table” [Montecito Journal 19-26 December 2019, v. 25 Issue 50]. After your recounting of the vigil on at the Santa Barbara Courthouse immediately after the Thomas Fire and debris-flow, it laments: “Representatives from across the county were marking and mourning the tragedy without the inclusion of our voices.” Rhetorically it then inquires whether elected officials valued the ideas of Montecitans.

In an area of great importance to our community, often overlooked, Montecito has been served for 17+ years by outstanding Montecitans whose ideas have been impactful and respected by elected officials. I refer to the planning and development function that is crucial to how our community actually looks. Specifically, the Montecito Community Plan has been in effect since 1992 and, in June 2002, the Montecito Planning Commission (MPC) was established. On the nomination of the First District Supervisor, the Board of Supervisors appoints five members of our community to serve. Similarly, the Montecito Board of Architectural Review (MBAR) is comprised of seven appointive members. The public meetings of these two bodies are important and their actions, if not appealed or subject to further review, generally have the force of law under the code of Santa Barbara County.

Distinguished Montecito leaders have been dedicated in their capable service on the MPC (and the MBAR) and informed the decision-making process of the planning and development of our treasured community. Additionally based on my experience, I can personally assure you that responsible MPC members (past and present) do, metaphorically speaking, “stay up at night” concerned about the planning and development of Montecito.

While the omission of the MPC and the MBAR prompted this letter, it is also cause to reiterate the open invitation to our community made at the MPC’s first meeting in Montecito on December 12at MUS. It is an invite to all to: sign up to get notice of our meetings, review the agendas, participate in person (or write on matters of concern) or to watch on CSBTV Ch 20 or YouTube when the MPC meets (9 am on the third Wednesday of every month). In sum, the “tables” at the MPC and the MBAR have ample seating for and welcome all Montecito community members-to participate meaningfully in their crucial work.

Lastly, on a personal note of less import I too was on the dais at the vigil at the request of and introduced by First District Supervisor Das Williams. It was a moving and memorable experience that marked the start of recovery from our community’s unforgettable loss of lives and devastation and bound us all together to serve Montecito.

All the best,

Charles Newman

Hats Off to Laura Capps

Laura Capps epitomizes collaboration, community, and capability. Collaboration that results in effective action isn’t easy. I served with Laura on the SB County Women’s Commission for several years and saw firsthand how she respected and harmonized sharply disparate North County and South County perspectives to benefit women and families county-wide. A true feminist, Laura is committed to fostering female leadership and led the first-ever study of gender representation on boards and commissions. And when our findings were published, not surprisingly showing severe under-representation of women in leadership roles, Laura led the charge to meet with mayors, city councils and women to pave the way for achieving parity.

Community outreach is key to effective representation. When our Women’s Commission held “Women Speak Up” listening events, we heard issues of concern from hundreds of women and girls. The comments about sexual assault, bullying, discrimination and LGBTQ harassment were especially disturbing to me as a filmmaker, educator and mom of a gay son. When I went before the SBUSD School Board to pitch a sexual education film series for high school health classes, Laura jumped in to support with specific recommendations for next steps. I’ve seen how she stands up for inclusive, progressive sex ed and implicit bias training despite strong right-wing opposition.

Laura not only shares these values but acts upon them. Five years ago when PFLAG was planning our first interfaith Pride Celebration during the Pride Festival, Laura volunteered her skills to help us pull it off. This has now become an annual event. And this is one of many examples of her capability. More than just vocal support, Laura is always quick to jump in and ask, “How can I help make this happen?” We need Laura to continue her results-driven work so that our County can be even more inclusive, equitable and supportive of women, men and their families.

Suzanne W. Peck
Santa Barbara County

Recusal Refusal

M. Bloomberg has sent $10 million to be spent for advertising to influence the impeachment vote in the senate. M. Bloomberg is running against the sitting president, so he is trying to influence the public perception of his potential opponent in the 2020 election. With respect to Biden, this is the same allegation against the president.

Same argument if the Senators Booker, Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar, if they do not recuse themselves from the senate vote to determine who will be the Democrats opponent in the election.

Here is an opportunity for Bloomberg, Booker, Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar, to show that the impeachment is not strictly political, or if the “pot is calling the kettle black.”

Brent Zepke
Santa Barbara

Take it Back – All the Way Back

When their hate takes them all the way down, we will take everything back.

We will take all their hate and respond with votes to remove them and their hate.

It is simple and they can’t see anything that is coming. We know who, what and why they are.

They have forced us to unite and stand up and protect our country from them.

It is they who are the liars, the schemers the haters who feel they must destroy us.

Make no mistake it is not just the President they want to destroy; it is we who stand in the way.

We will take everything back.

They will be dust in the wind. “All they are is dust in the wind.”

Chris F
Santa Barbara


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