Season’s Greetings, and the Year in Review

By Sharon Byrne   |   December 26, 2019

We hope you’re enjoying some of the lovely holiday decorations in our community. On December 4, we lit the tree in the Upper Green in front of Pierre Lafond, during Hospice’s now second annual Light Up A Life in Montecito. The Hathaway tree was decorated at Upper Manning Park by some fabulous elves that also serve on our events committee. The Upper Village is twinkling, and the Coast Village Association put up lovely decorations.

As we were getting ready for the holidays, we also took a look back at 2019, and have great things to report:

1. In our January survey, you told us your top concerns were safety and security of the community, infrastructure that makes us more resilient, and preserving the great rural character here. You also mentioned traffic issues. We heard you loud and clear! So first, we offered three-day emergency backpacks as a gift with your membership, and we handed out 500 of those. We hope you’ll never need them, but we also wanted to better prepare our community in case of emergency. We’ve recently made a Ring promotion available to Montecito, so you can easily and inexpensively monitor your front door – ever more necessary in this day and age of package thieves. We’re excited about the opportunity to partner with Abe Powell and the Bucket Brigade to grow the capacity in our community for emergency response and build more connections between our community members. Our traffic committee now includes members from Caltrans, CHP, sheriff, County Public Works, and Supervisor Das Williams’ office. Lt. Butch Arnoldi of the Sheriff’s office gives us monthly reports and alerts, as does Chief Kevin Taylor of MFPD. We’ve really also enjoyed working with Montecito Fire on multiple activities and appreciate their incredible support of this community.

2. On the infrastructure front: The Partnership for Resilient Communities installed the first round of ring nets up in the canyon. That was a huge philanthropic and engineering effort, and we are very appreciative. We worked with the County Flood Control district and support the proposed Randall Road debris basin. We are excited about the upcoming potential widening of our existing basins and working with Curtis Skene and the Partnership for Community Renewal. We’ve hosted presentations on the Montecito Microgrid and invited everyone to come hear how things were going on the water front. This month, we hosted a forum at MUS with the Community Environmental Council to help this community mitigate our newest threat: the public safety power shutoffs. We’re very appreciative of the relationships we’ve built with our partnering agencies and are grateful for the immense work they’ve put into this community this year as we navigate the second year of recovery.

3. The fun stuff: July 4th is always a treat around here, with the World’s Biggest Little Parade and country fair. Jackson Gillies gave a great performance, and you all came out to show your spirit. We handed out candy for Ghost Village Road, and hot beverages for the parents, as they need treats, too! Then Beautification Day rolled out, with terrific turnout and huge support – thank you! This year’s neon bright yellow t-shirts were highly visible all across the community. Trish of our History Committee decided the Montecito Hall needed to be lit up like a power plant, so she and stellar volunteer Mike Edwards made that happen. It looks quite charming at night. Just in time for the Library’s Open House last week, where we served up Wassail.

4. Looking to 2020: We’re working with super partners on the second 1/9 Remembrance and Community Gathering, to be held at Westmont. We’re also delighted to partner with the Montecito Journal in producing the First District Supervisors Forum at Hahn Hall on January 16. Yes, it’s election season, but we’re trying to give you December off. However, California moved our primary to March, so pretty soon you won’t be able to help but notice there’s an election coming.

Hannah-Beth Jackson is termed out of the senate, and Assemblymember Monique Limon is running for that seat. We’ve worked really well with both, and they’ve been very helpful to this community, particularly with Caltrans and the problem of insurance companies not renewing homeowners all over California. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara came to Montecito, brought to us by Monique, and listened to our concerns. He’s got quite the job, as he just issued an order to increase the FAIR plan to $3 million and is now being sued by the insurance companies in the FAIR group. The bill to ensure insurers do not cancel policies within one year of disaster has passed the legislature, which doesn’t help us at this time, but may be a relief to communities recently stricken by fire.

It was a busy and productive 2019, so expect nothing less in 2020. We always welcome your attendance at our meetings and visits and calls to our office. See our website for meeting dates and times.

We wish you and your family all the best this holiday season has on offer!


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