Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   December 8, 2020

‘Copter Conundrum

We have a real threat going right now. A real one.

A resident of Summerland is asking for two helipads on his private property in Summerland. This is after he has admitted that he has been illegally landing and taking off from this same property for 25 years. He has built a “helicopter hangar” on this same property, describing it as an “agricultural outbuilding.” 

These helipads (for which he is applying for permits) are already described on the real estate listing of his property as an “Hermes designed helipad.” As though it were already there. This is a nightmare for our area.

This is the biggest threat I can remember to our existence as a peaceful, semi-rural community. The one we moved to 23 years ago; and the one I started visiting as a child every August. (Pasadena was dangerously hot and smoggy, my mother believed.) The peace, quiet, natural, low-key existence, which is key to our town, is now under severe threat. The wildlife, the horse trails, the bicyclists, the walkers. Threatened with noise pollution, stress, and danger.

Helicopters are horrendously noisy and disruptive. They blow everything around when they land. Nothing peaceful about them in the neighborhood. Noisy, disruptive and destructive. Horrific, actually.

Fifteen or so years ago, there were paparazzi in helicopters next door to us at Oprah’s. (She has never and would never land a helicopter at her place, although the emergency helicopters were welcomed there during the debris flow emergency.) She was having a party. She had no control over the paparazzi. The helicopters were so loud and so low I thought they would take off the tops of the Eucalyptus trees!

One helicopter blew a red-tail hawk’s nest right out of the tree on our border. (They had come every year for the five years we had been here to nest and raise their babies.) They returned to the same nest year after year.

I saw the nest with the three babies blown out and land on the ground. Both parent hawks were flying around frantically and calling. I ran over, ready to take these babies I had been watching with binoculars for weeks, to the Wildlife Care Center.

All three were dead. I was heartbroken. That is what helicopters do to wildlife. Just one small example. Imagine how many other animals are affected.

Horses on trails, spooked to the point of perhaps harming themselves and their riders. Small animals terrified. Human beings suffering from PTSD. (I think most of us in Montecito are, even if we were not here for the debris flow. I know we are.) 

There is absolutely no place for private landing places for helicopters in our part of the South Coast. We are really one community. Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria, and East Santa Barbara. One community.

For the convenience of one man? One house? And once one is approved; watch what happens. Our community ruined forever. One after another. Miramar shuttles, Miramar sightseeing. More private helicopters taking off and landing. On and on. Helicopters need to be permanently banned. Forever. That is what Nantucket has done. Saving itself from the horrific mess in the Hamptons. Helicopters ruining everything. We need to take a stand. Now. No helicopters ever. 

 Except for emergency helicopters. They need no permit. They can and do land wherever and whenever they need to. This application mentions an “emergency landing pad.” Bunk. They need no pad. No permission. Emergency helicopters can and do land wherever they need. Two people were evacuated from our lane by helicopter. Hundreds more were evacuated during the emergency. Oprah’s lawn and Birnam Wood golf course were utilized. No permits necessary. Plenty of room for emergencies around here. No pad necessary.

I am on the Board of the Montecito Association. I am so proud of our simple mission statement. “To defend and preserve the semi-rural atmosphere of our community”… a brief part of a very important document. It will safeguard our lovely, tranquil place for generations. We have a treasure we need to defend. Defend it we must.

Please, all in the community, help us here. The County planners have voted to approve this application. The County Planning Commission meets on September 25th at 9 am. I am imploring our citizens to make their voices heard. Letters, emails, etc. These planners do not understand who we are and what we are here. This makes no sense.

Please all in the community join us in our opposition to the granting of the permit for the helipad in Summerland/Carpinteria. It will affect us all. Forever. 

My friend from Nantucket said it well: “We are just custodians of this treasure of a place. We need to preserve it for those to come.”

This is major. We need the whole community’s support. I would appreciate the Journal coming out to voice support in opposing this.

Penelope Bianchi

(Editor’s note: We do believe your voice – and that of many others – has been heard and the likelihood of this permit request being granted is almost zero. – J.B.)

Dems Make No Sense

I will watch the Democratic debates in hopes that at least one of the ten debaters will make a bit of common financial sense. Up until now, the ten who will be on the stage haven’t come close to doing so. I simply ask all readers of this letter to see if anyone provides a sensible answer to “How are you going to pay for all of this free stuff?” Recently I listened to Elizabeth Warren promote her “two cents from the rich” mantra, then listing a number of “free” items (including eliminating student loan debt, healthcare, education, child care, salary for care givers, and many more) that will be “taken care of with this two cents.” This sounds good, but it is pure financial nonsense. And, I encourage you to do your own research on this: Warren took a position at Harvard that was designated for a minority person by claiming to be a Native American.

I’m sure all ten Democratic candidates will promote the climate change fear theme. We’re doomed within 10 to 12 years if we don’t make drastic changes, including eliminating fossil fuels. 

Recall that in 2006, Al Gore (An Inconvenient Truth) predicted doom within 10 years by spouting fear about climate change. Even if we could possibly meet the fantasyland demands of the New Green Deal, are the Dems simply assuming that other major polluters (China, India, Russia, Japan, European Union) will buy into this earth-saving rhetoric?

I’m a conservative retired mathematics teacher (Cate School, Santa Barbara City College), but I have voted for Democrats in the past who had sensible ideas for realistic solutions to existing problems. Disagree if you will, but the present group of Democratic presidential contenders with their “we’ll provide for you and it will require no effort on your part” theme makes no sense whatsoever. 

Sanderson M. Smith, Ed.D.

(Editor’s note: As much as we’d like to agree with you about Elizabeth Warren – and you may be 100% correct – as far as we can determine, she claimed Cherokee heritage when asked to supply her bio. Administrators at Harvard hired her, and then jumped right on that claim, bragging about their “Native American Woman of Color” on the faculty. Though Ms Warren never got around to clarifying the matter, maybe even because she was embarrassed… hey, we’re trying to be fair here… You may also be right that she took a position “designated for a minority person,” as there are probably all kinds of quotas Harvard administrators strain to fill, at least on paper. As far as we’re concerned, her left-wing politics and persistently radical demeanor fits right in at Harvard and she was probably hired mostly on her merits. She’s hard to ignore; you’ve got to give her that. – J.B.)

High Heel Hit

I am sitting at Starbucks reading an article by Beverlye Fead, in the Montecito Journal: “Aging In High Heels.” The article is about Dan Wright, and it was so inspiring it made me want to read more of that type of article. Truly, I thank you for this wonderful reading. Thank you for the fun, well-written article from Beverlye about one very interesting man from Montecito.

Joyce Jerge 
Santa Barbara

Loves Beverlye Too

I really enjoyed Beverlye Fead’s article on Dan Wright. It was well written and informative; she is a great writer and interviewer. I always look forward to reading her articles in the Journal on the many special people in our local community. I’m happy to read in the current issue that Beverlye is being awarded for her talents. She is an inspiration to all and a wonderful lady. Congrats to her. We always enjoy our weekly Journal reading. Keep up the good work!

Shirley Purkait

Angry and Fed Up

You don’t have to go very far back in history to find a Party of Prosperity defeated at the polls. In 2016, the Democrats were the Party Of Prosperity. Obama inherited an economy from George W. Bush that was deeply in recession. There followed months and months of steady growth. Trump duly inherited this and he presided over even more spectacular growth. 

But why did Trump win? Mainly, because Obama’s successor, Hillary Clinton, was so unpopular. Today Trump is the one who is very unpopular. You can blame the media – as you always do – but the truth is that Trump has earned his unpopularity the old-fashioned way – with conduct that is often despicable when it is not merely stupid. The guy is a gusher of lies and hypocrisy. He is everything good people teach their children not to be.

Common sense – informed by the example of Hillary Clinton – shows that a good economy is no remedy for a bad character. And good economies don’t go on forever. What history really shows is that economic cycles ebb and flow, and the current high tide will retreat sooner or later. The only question is when. The trade war with China, plus Brexit, are invitations for disaster.

Mr. McCalmont doth complain too much in a recent letter. This is an exercise in whistling through the graveyard, revealing his fears that the ghosts are real. If Trump is such a lock for re-election, why post this at all? What Yahoo reports can’t change the future, right? After all, character doesn’t matter and the economy will never falter. Wrong.

If I were a Trump supporter, I’d be very afraid. Texas is unlikely to go Democratic but much of the rest of the country is angry and fed up.

Reg Henry
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Well, we’ll see how “fed up” and “angry” the rest of the country is in November of next year. My current guess, and that could change, is that much of the middle of the country is fed up with the kind of delusional crap being proposed and thrown around by various opposition candidates on and off TV “debating” stages. The coastal zones however probably are fed up with President Trump’s personality and his policies. They certainly are “angry.” How that all shakes out will determine who wins the next election. – J.B.)

Second-Hand Law

California lawmakers created a new law recently prohibiting cannabis smoking on commercial party buses, limos, and similar vehicles, with supporters claiming the smoke created a risk of accident and/or driver impairment. What’s wrong with the law? For 30 years the USDOT has insisted that secondhand cannabis smoke will not so much as affect a pre-employ/random drug test result. But now the CHP and the California Assembly insist secondhand cannabis smoke will intoxicate party bus drivers? Decades old landmark claims in the drug detection science aren’t known or being understood.

Matt McLaughlin 
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: And, you’re looking for logic and/or consistency from elected officials? – J.B.)


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