Freedoms Taken Away at Hot Springs Trailhead

By Montecito Journal   |   April 8, 2021

On Saturday, March 28, 2021 at about 5:30 pm, I took my bicycle to the Hot Springs Trailhead, which is about a 10-minute ride from where I live. A vehicle which had printed on it “Hillcrest Security” had stopped on Mountain Drive next to the trailhead parking lot. I asked the driver, Mark, what he was doing. He replied he was taking photos of the license plates in the parking lot. 

Who’s paying this security company to do this surveillance? This is not the first time the parking lot has been patrolled. For some months in late 2017 this parking lot was closed in the evenings. Cones were placed right out to the edge of the pavement of Mountain Drive. Quite a few hikers returning from the hot springs witnessed this.

On December 4, 2017, wanting to find out what this was about, I approached the parking lot and cones. A security guard working for Mission Security and Patrol approached me and told me the parking lot was private property. He beckoned me to some barely noticeable handwritten cardboard signs on the chain link fence behind the lot stating that cars parked after 10 pm would be towed.

I responded to him that it was a publicly owned parking lot that the public has been using for many years. When I refused to leave the parking lot, he called the Sheriff’s Office, and grabbed hold of my bicycle so I couldn’t leave. When two officers arrived on the scene – Deputy Scherubarth and his partner – he was still holding onto my bicycle. Deputy Scherubarth encouraged me to do some research, which I did. 

It took a while but eventually l went to the County Assessor’s Office and found out it was indeed public property. I got in touch with Brian Yanez, then Deputy Parks Director for the county. 

He contacted Mission Security and responded to me on August 16, 2018: “Thanks Bryan. I spoke with the security company and they stated that they never put out cones blocking the parking lot. Did you actually see this company doing this? Regardless, I told the security company that they can’t block off the public right of way and they understood that…” 

After the trailhead parking lot was decimated by mudslides in January 2018, the patrols ceased. It’s been a while, but now another security company is patrolling. Is the party responsible for closing off the parking area in 2017 the same one hiring the security company now?

Other changes have occurred at the trailhead parking lot. The county parks department, now under the supervision of Jeff Lindgren, has recently placed signs on the chain link fence behind the lot. 

One sign states that parking is limited to two hours between 9 am and 6 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. These signs don’t even make sense as most hikes are longer than two hours – for example, going to the top of the mountain and back takes at least four hours. Also, people can easily park on Riven Rock Drive, a few steps away, where there is no time limit.

There’s been no limitation on parking at this trailhead until recently, and this I know as I’ve been visiting it for many years. People have even left their cars as they departed on more extensive backpacking trips.

Another sign states that the park hours are from 8 am to sunset. Quite a few people start their early morning hikes or constitutionals near the crack of dawn. Some come back after dusk. And there is no park – this is a trail leading to the Los Padres National Forest. People have been walking up Hot Springs Canyon for many years at all times of the day, going back to 1801 when a Native American, Camacho of the Najalayegua tribe, was said to have discovered the hot springs. He lived halfway up Hot Springs Canyon (source: Montecito and Santa Barbara, From Farms to Estates, Volume One, David Myrick).

But now, after all this time of use, the parks department wants to limit access without even holding a public hearing.

Bryan Rosen

Vaccine Passport: One-way Ticket to the Dark Ages

A brief response is in order to the recent jubilant essay by Rinaldo Brutoco, a local businessman, on the concept of vaccine passports. What the pandemic has shown us is that humans are all too happy, when triggered by fear, to sacrifice liberty in exchange for perceived security. We gladly throw out our “unalienable rights,” once treasured in the Declaration of Independence, like yesterday’s news. We would rather create a two-class Apartheid system (until vaccines can legally be forced on the public) than risk catching cooties from a stranger that has ventured into our 6-foot bubble.

One of the world’s most respected vaccine scientists and developers, Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche, recently wrote that this vaccine will destroy our innate immune system’s natural antibodies (NK cells), which are naturally able to destroy any variant that comes along. He explains how “we are currently turning the vaccinated into asymptomatic carriers shedding infectious variants.” 

The vaccine-induced antibodies, however, are only able to neutralize the original strain, and they dominate our more versatile NK cells, rendering the vaccinated helpless to the variants. Moreover, the vaccinated are not protected from acquiring or transmitting the virus, so this vaccine gets us no closer to herd immunity. 

Also, we have no idea if the vaccine’s benefits will last beyond three months, while natural immunity from similar viruses has been shown to robustly last 60-90 years. Additionally, by vaccinating in the middle of the pandemic, Dr. Bossche notes, we are putting evolutionary pressure on the virus to mutate, much like antibiotics that cause bacteria to develop resistant strains. SARS virus disappeared in two years without a vaccine and did not produce variants, so history has shown the best policy is to keep our immunity strong and wait it out.

Just this past week we heard 13 states had rising rates of COVID, 11 of which had state vaccination rates above the national average. Adding to the picture, Pfizer is profiting $15 billion this year on their COVID vaccine; there have already been thousands of deaths reported shortly following the vaccine; death rates in UK care homes tripled in the two weeks following the onset of vaccination; and pharma has zero liability for damages. If this vaccine is so safe, then why do we allow pharma to refuse liability? Truth is, they only tested safety for two months and then they vaccinated the placebo group so there would be no way to measure long term safety! That is not science.

So how does an immunity passport make sense if the vaccinated people can still transmit? We would be creating a two-class society for exactly no benefit! Since 99.9% of people under 70 survive the virus, how do you imagine the vaccine will improve that? It has never been proven to reduce the death rate.

What we should be talking about is strengthening the immune system. Studies have shown that when the infection is treated within the first five days, using things like nebulized 0.1% hydrogen peroxide and Vit. D, no one gets “long-haulers COVID.”

How about we further this discussion before we allow our fear to throw out our democracy entirely?

Hesu Whitten


A Different Take

I didn’t like Jeffrey Stewart’s editorial. It’s made to sound as if Blacks had the monopoly on being victims in British society. But American style discussion of race, at all costs, must be discussed in an air-tight vacuum for it to trigger certain heartstrings, and not others. Britain’s Alien Laws were a snare to an array of ethnicities and most definitely were not limited to racial bias. 

More obvious, if Queen Elizabeth II minded diverse children would she have OK’d the marriage? And if the Queen didn’t approve of the marriage, Meghan would be waiting for casting calls and Harry would still be running around with his royal scepter in his hand.

Matt McLaughlin

Going to Miss the Read ‘n Post

Sadly, I just learned that our wonderful Read ‘n Post will be leaving our ‘Village’ next month. For the many years we’ve lived in Montecito we have thoroughly enjoyed going there to the Post Office but primarily for all the wonderful assortment of ‘goodies’ to buy and treasure as well as chatting with the friendly staff! Glad we were able to enjoy the Montecito of the good old days… it is definitely changing and to me, not for the better.

Jean von Wittenburg

A ‘Pretend Constitution’

What about an Equal Rights Amendment for women? Well, the whole concept seems almost passe today after a big effort in the 1970s failed.

One of the obstacles to a 21st century ERA is that men, especially those in positions of financial and political power, seem to be slipping backward. They like women as servants, not as equals or superiors.

But there is an even bigger obstacle. The Constitution, with all its guarantees of democratic equality, is basically only so much paper today. There are huge swaths of foundational language that have been trashed by presidents, congresses, and the courts. Today, our pretend Constitution effectively allows any political thug to do whatever he can get away with.

And you, Ms. America, don’t give a damn.

Besides, how are you going to get equal pay or equal power in today’s speedily declining America? Remember when Rome went from a democracy to a monarchy? That didn’t help women. Rome’s emperors forevermore were men.

Ladies, if you want real power, you must bring back real democracy.

Kimball Shinkoskey

Follow the Rules, Not Feelings

Please forgive me, but I must admit that when I read about the City Council’s recent consternation with the Historic Lands Commission my first reaction was, “welcome to the real world.” 

For decades business and property owners have been suffering under the egotistical lash of city planning and permitting departments, plus review committees. There is no way of knowing how many proposed businesses have been crushed by that permit process before ever opening their doors, but we all know the number is significant. Who can forget the kerfuffle over the small fluorescent “open” sign requested by the wine shop on State Street? Or the withholding of the final permit for Chick-fil-A because some permit functionary disagreed with the owner’s religious values? 

High-profile events like that, combined with the thousands of property owners who have been subjected to the overbearing, expensive and often capricious permit process are what turns a population against its own local government. 

On top of all that, look how city permit, zoning, and planning management reacted to the Auxiliary Dwelling Unit rules proposed by the state. Rather than cooperating in the least, those management groups chose to fight and waste taxpayer dollars. In return, the state has basically crushed them and removed their permitting powers regarding ADUs. The city council has the power to reign the planning and permitting groups in. I’m not asking for them to be destroyed, only that they be required to issued permits based on the rules, rather than their feelings.

Jeff Havlik

Common Sense Must Win Out

For as long as I can remember I thought as long as there were more good people than bad the world would be fine.

As of November 8, 2016, I started to question my premise.

After watching the election results, tears rolled down my face.

How could a person involved in some 4,000 lawsuits to his credit and a proven misogynist by his own admission, as well as speaking like a bully in a schoolyard, attain the highest power in our country?

Were there really more bad people than good?

Or were there more bad voters than good?

Or did he outwork Mrs. Clinton?

Mr. Trump by no means is all bad.

Clearly some of his legacy is that some good things happened during his watch.

For example, shutting down travel from China, mildly improving the lives of minorities, moving the capital of Israel to Jerusalem.

He was also strong leader and took out a powerful enemy in ISIS.

We all know the mean and horrible things he’s said and done.

Too many to mention but I must do so to be fair.

Hurling insults at a war hero.

Insulting a Gold Star family and, of course, saying he had the ability to grab a woman anywhere he wanted to because of his fame.

Not to mention making fun of someone because they have a disability or questioning a judge’s decision-making process because he thought he was Mexican.

I can’t help but think it is a beautiful thing that there are more good people than bad.

But what this world really depends on for its survival is using common sense.

It makes no sense to elect someone to our highest office that can poison our young into thinking they can lie, cheat, and bully all the way to the top.

Steven Marko


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