Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   January 16, 2020

Cover Story Correction

I have to respond to the cover story of January 2, 2020, “LUTAH WHO?” Better fact-checking would have revealed that I purchased Los Suenos in 2003 and I continue to own Los Suenos with my wife, Susan, and we live there with our Border Collies Alamo, Creek, and Ranch. I found out about Lutah in 2003 and I supported the wonderful documentary about her. My ex-wife Gretchen lived in the house between 2012 and 2017.

I only write now (never having written to any newspaper before) to support and protect my wife Susan from constant questioning regarding Gretchen’s claim to fame including buying Los Suenos, making wine in Napa, and claiming to own our Border Collies.

Very truly yours,

Robert L. Lieff


We have been lucky to call Montecito our home since childhood. As children, our close-knit community of families and local businesses encouraged our pursuit of intellectual learning at Montecito Union, Cold Spring, Crane Country Day, and Laguna Blanca Lower School. Our teachers, parents, and friends alike championed this community as a model of outreach and forward thinking.

Now, as current Laguna Blanca High School students, we have had an opportunity to transform what our past has been into what our future can be – and we’ve done it through our school’s TEDx program.

The TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool program operates as a non-profit, both organized and fundraised by a team of approximately 20 high school students. Under a license granted by the TED organization – a nonprofit devoted to sharing ideas – students work for one semester to produce a TEDx event (x = independently organized TED event) for our Santa Barbara community. TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool is a professional, annual event that features speakers and performers from around the world. With three sessions of carefully curated TEDx talks, our audience is encouraged to challenge their beliefs and explore new ideas.

TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool’s success requires the collaboration of five teams: Executive Production, Business Development, Design, Curation, Operations, and Communications. Within these individual departments, every aspect of the conference – whether it be visual or operational – is crafted by students.

In 2018, our inaugural event focused on the theme EVOLVE, exploring the growth of ourselves, our community, and our world. With influential figures like fitness guru Jenny Schatzle, firefighter Kevin Jones, and transgender sophomore student Samuel Rae Bernstein, our audience left with newfound perspectives.

Last January in 2019, TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool wowed attendees yet again with our second annual event, UNCHARTED. Hailing from Los Angeles, Hawaii, London, South Africa, and more, 20 presenters showcased their ideas and talents to a 650-person audience.

This year, attendees can look forward to an event boasting unprecedented change. Our team of 19 high schoolers, guided by faculty advisor Allison Armstrong, plans to alter every aspect of the conference in the spirit of this year’s theme, RE.IMAGINE. The event will take place on Wednesday, January 29, where speakers and attendees alike will be encouraged to re-think what they know, rebel against what’s been done before, and re-discover truths about society and the world around them.

As producers of this event, we’ve received an unmatched project-based education and real-world experience that will forever shape the rest of our lives. Each of us has discovered hidden passions and interests, whether it be graphic design, business development, speaker coaching, or media management, as a member of the TEDx team.

Perhaps the most important skill we’ve learned is collaboration. Before our TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool journey – the weekend work parties, the overflowing email inboxes, the weekly board meetings, the do-or-die hours before event start – we didn’t know the value of a dedicated and united team. TEDx taught us the importance of working on something that matters, and, more importantly, the importance of working on something together.

To make our event possible and to ensure the future of our school’s TEDx program, we rely on sponsorships, ticket sales, day-of volunteers, and in-kind donations. Please let us know if you are interested in supporting TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool, and we hope to see you at our 2020 event!


Kiki Tolles, Emma Raith, Frances Carlson, Paige Levinson

Vote for Character

The upcoming election on March 3 provides us with an excellent opportunity to provide a new kind of leadership in the important position of County Supervisor.

Ethics and honesty seem to have disappeared in so much of the rhetoric we hear and read – we are facing a crisis of epic proportions where so much public support is driven by money and the candidates by personal ambition. The integrity of our democratic institutions, our moral character seem secondary if relevant at all. Misleading and erroneous claims are often made when the reality is the opposite. I have historically been an issue driven voter, and in my book no issue is greater than character. This is where Laura shines.

I’ve had the opportunity to see her in action whether it be on the school board or her openness and transparency on the campaign trail. She listens, she leans into the issues, and spends no time trying to impress with dubious accomplishments. Laura is in this for us, not some personal political agenda.

Santa Barbara County needs Laura’s experience, integrity, and ability to thoughtfully listen and consider our concerns and interests from all sides.

I encourage everyone to attend the upcoming debate. You will immediately get it.

Rand Rosenberg

Bob in Office

Terrific set of ideas proposed by Mr. Hazard. We should run him for office, but he is probably too smart to seek public office….


Fake Flyer

In my role as President of the Coast Village Association, it is a privilege to represent the policies, plans and concerns of the officers, board and membership of the association to the greater Santa Barbara community. Moreover, it is my responsibility, along with the board, to safeguard the hard-won reputation of this important community association. As the association has increased in visibility and effectiveness, government decision-makers and staff look to us for input and involvement with various matters, including proposals for traffic circulation and management. We take this responsibility very seriously, and we hope our involvement is thoughtful, balanced and helpful.

Recently, it came to our attention that an informational flyer with the CVA and Montecito Association logos was circulated around the hedgerow neighborhood urging attendance at a January 9 meeting of the Montecito Board of Architectural Review (MBAR). The topic of that meeting was the proposed San Ysidro roundabout, and the flyer presented and urged opposition to it, with the clearly implied agreement of the Coast Village Association. We did not authorize the use of our logo on this flyer, and we deeply resent that our reputation was hijacked by an anonymous party stirring up controversy at the expense of honest debate and the volunteer efforts of many on our board. We demand, but don’t expect, an apology from whomever is responsible for such fraudulent communication. And we apologize for any confusion this flyer caused. For the record, all communications from the CVA are attributed and signed so that the authors can be contacted, and held responsible for our words.

Bob Ludwick, President
Coast Village Association

MCF to the Rescue

In response to Michael Edwards inquiry to replacing the damaged road sign located at San Ysidro Road and Santa Rosa (MJ Letters Issue: Jan. 2-9 Vol. 26), I have good news to report.

The Montecito Community Foundation will be replacing the sign as soon as possible. One of the several projects carried out by the MCF is to replace aging or damaged road signs within our community. These rustic wooden handcrafted road signs are unique to Montecito and it is the MCF’s goal to maintain them for the enjoyment of all. There are approximately 212 public road signs in Montecito, which are paid for and maintained by the MCF. Each sign can cost $2,000 and upwards. The MCF spent $100,000 replacing/maintaining road signs since January 2018.

For 53 years the MCF has supported our Community by providing funding for projects that help preserve the uniqueness and beauty of our community. Past and ongoing projects are: Purchase and landscaping of the Corner Green, funding for the North Jameson walking trail, funding of projects in our local Montecito Library, replacement and beautification of our local bus stops. If you love our road signs or have a special interest in helping fund other Foundation projects, please contact us at: info@montecitofoundation.org.

To learn more about the Foundation, make a donation or get involved in upcoming projects visit our website: montecitofoundation.org. Send donations to: MCF P.O. Box 5001, SB 93150

Betsy Turner
Projects Chair

Thoughts for a New Year

(1) I speculate that those who support MEDICARE FOR ALL lack an understanding of what MEDICARE is in reality. It’s not free, it doesn’t cover everything, and supplemental insurance (not cheap) from private insurance companies is a necessity.

(2) Those, like me, who opposed Obamacare, are not against reasonable health insurance reform. Obamacare made little financial common sense from the get-go. Who saved “$2,500 per year” and “got to keep their own doctor?” The present partisan divide in Washington has prevented needed and sensible health care.

(3) We should understand that corporations making “large profits” are healthy for our economy. Profits are returned to shareholders like me in the form of stock dividends, some are used to improve the company (a definite benefit to employees) and some are used to provide retirement benefits to employees. Yes, a capitalistic society produces successful companies and rich people (Bill Gates, Carly Florina, Steve Jobs) whose successes benefit other people. We shouldn’t tax them out of existence or produce a desire for them to move elsewhere.

(4) We shouldn’t rush to eliminate fossil fuels that are presently needed to develop future energy-producing methods and to produce many of the modern items (computers, smart phones, etc.) that we take for granted.

(5) Should Greta Thunberg meet with leaders in China, India, Japan and Saudi Arabia?

(6) House members are supposed to represent congressional districts. Nancy Pelosi’s 12th California District is plagued with homeless encampments. Has Pelosi has shown any concern for her District? What about home district concerns displayed by Adam Schiff (28th District) and our own Salud Carbajal (24th District)?

(7) We should support, respect and maintain a strong military.

(8) Children should believe that future success requires work and individual effort.

(9) Americans haven’t been perfect, are not presently perfect, and never will be perfect. Still, we represent the greatest country in the world. We should not erase any of our history.

Sanderson M. Smith, Ed.D.
Retired mathematics teacher (Cate School, Santa Barbara City College)


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