Montecito Association Meets
At this month’s Montecito Association Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, April 13, executive director Sharon Byrne gave an update on several housing bills at the State level which the Association is watching; Byrne wrote about the issue in last week’s Montecito Journal.
The MA has hired former state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson as a legislative analyst and advocate to help defeat two housing bills (SB9 and SB10) which would allow lot splits and the building of multi-family housing units in single family residential zones via ministerial approvals, without local control or design review. The controversial bills are in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal to add millions of housing units in California. In addition to drastically reducing the red tape to build multiple units on a property, SB9 encourages developers to buy properties, demolish them, and build six to eight new housing units. SB9 does not require that improvements be made to local infrastructure to accommodate more residents, including water and sewer infrastructure, law enforcement and school capacity, road infrastructure, and more. “We want to be part of the solution,” said Board President Megan Orloff, adding that increased housing and population would have a detrimental effect on traffic, infrastructure, fire risk, and evacuations, and a significant environmental impact. “I urge the community to take an interest in this, and advocate for this,” she said. “We can help solve the housing crisis but in a way that is not detrimental to the community.”
While the MA opposes these two housing bills, there are two others that they are in support of: SB55 – which limits building in high fire zones – and SB765, which allows local jurisdictions to put setback limits on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The MA is currently working on raising awareness of these issues via townhall meetings and through articles in this paper, raising funds to pay for Jackson’s work, and partnering with other communities in an effort to defeat SB9 and SB10. They are looking for contributors to help fund the very important cause; for more information, visit www.montecitoassociation.org.
During Community Reports, Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor introduced the District’s new Public Information Officer, Christina Favuzzi, who has been brought on to help the District communicate better with the community. Favuzzi comes from Central Coast news outlet KSBY, where she covered news in San Luis Obispo and surrounding areas, including in Montecito during the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow. Chief Taylor reported that the District is preparing for an early fire season, which begins in May, which is four weeks earlier than last year. Chief Taylor also reported that six home hardening grants were recently given to local residents, to help them prepare their homes for fire season.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi gave his monthly report on recent crime, which included a package theft on Danielson, shoplifting in the Upper Village, a DUI traffic stop on East Valley Road, a beached boat on Butterfly Beach, a mental health crisis situation at Bonnymede, check forgery on Cota Lane, drug arrest on Coast Village Road, purse stolen from car at Cold Spring trailhead, residential burglaries on Ten Acre Road and Orchard Avenue, and spray paint vandalism at Cold Spring trailhead.
MUS and Cold Spring School Superintendents Dr. Anthony Ranii and Dr. Amy Alzina reported that the majority of their staff members and teachers are reaching full vaccination from COVID-19. Dr. Ranii said that recommendations from the Public Health Department are changing rapidly, and that the newest recommendations are that students only need to be three feet apart, instead of six feet apart. “This was a big change for us. It allowed us to take advantage of indoor learning,” he said. Student enrollment at MUS has increased 3.5% since the beginning of the year, with new families coming from Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Dr. Ranii reported that MUS will have an in-person graduation ceremony this year. Dr. Alzina reported that Cold Spring School has stopped the community COVID-19 testing with the reduction in case numbers. CSS held its first board meeting in person this week.
Darcel Elliott with First District Supervisor Das Williams’ office reported that the County has met the State’s Orange Tier case rate and positivity rate for one week. If these metrics are met for one additional week, movement into the less restrictive Orange Tier may take effect as early as next Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
The County can move into the Orange Tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy when its case rate has been under 6 cases per every 100,000 residents and test positivity is under 4.9% for the last two weeks. The potential for this forward move comes after the state raised the metrics threshold for counties to meet after achieving a goal to vaccinate more than 4 million Californians who live in areas hardest hit by the pandemic, as measured by the Healthy Places Index. Santa Barbara County’s adjusted case rate, as of Tuesday, is currently 4.6 cases per 100,000 residents and local test positivity is 1.9%.
Some activities which will be allowed with Santa Barbara County’s anticipated move to the Orange Tier include increases indoor restaurant seating to 50% capacity or 200 people maximum; gyms and fitness centers can move to 25% capacity indoors; indoor pools can open; wineries and breweries can operate at 25% or 100 people indoors maximum; movie theaters can open at 50% or 200 people maximum; museums, zoos and aquariums can open at 50% capacity for indoor activities; places of worship can open at 50% capacity for indoor activities; bars with no food service can open outdoors with modifications; and all retail can open with no capacity limits.
The next Montecito Association Board of Directors meeting is Tuesday, May 11.