Fighting Fair Housing Initiatives is Counterproductive

By Montecito Journal   |   May 6, 2021

In reference to the recent Montecito Association meeting held on April 13, I was deeply disappointed to see that our esteemed, highly respected former senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson, has agreed to represent the anti-growth side of the discussion regarding California State Bills 9 and 10, or SB-9 and SB-10. The legislation proffered by Governor Newsom will help to regulate the indefensible redlining that haunts our society, yet the Montecito Association is preparing to fight this fair housing initiative. 

Exclusionary zoning laws like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements and prohibitions on multi-family housing have sent housing prices soaring and locked families, seniors, educators, healthcare professionals and others who serve our community, out of areas that offer more opportunities. We have countless fire personnel, nurses, educators and so many others who choose to serve, and have already contributed to Montecito as well as the rest of Santa Barbara, yet they can’t afford to live here.

Having read both SB-9 and SB-10, I found them to be a step in the right direction. As a good friend of mine once said, “If you find some mold on a block of cheese, you don’t throw out the cheese, you cut away the mold and use the rest.”

On one hand we claim we want to honor our frontline workers, while on the other hand we are indirectly keeping them from being a fully integrated part of our community. We like to think we are a country of fair and equal rights, yet the nouveau riche seem to do all they can to keep that “certain element” from having a home in “their” neighborhood. Too many of you may well be talkin’ the talk – but you certainly ain’t walkin’ the walk. 

Unless the Montecito Association can put forward clearly defined solutions to the problem, then there is no rhyme or reason to halt legislation that would open the door for an opportunity to obtain equitable housing for those who have chosen a different life path than their wealthier neighbors. Without presenting a solution, the Montecito Association and all who work against these bills, are part of the problem. The opposition to SB-9 and SB-10, by one of my heroes, Hannah-Beth Jackson, doesn’t make me angry, but it makes me very, very sad.

Gail Steinbeck

Polo in Paradise

It was informative to read the lead item of the Montecito Miscellany column (April 22-29) that reported on polo games resuming for members to attend this season. It mentions this year as the 110th official anniversary of the polo season. That date is from Santa Barbara Polo Club becoming affiliated with the U.S. Polo Association in 1911. 

There is also another anniversary this year that specifically relates to the first polo game to be played at the Carpinteria club location. It was 95 years ago that Fleischmann Field was inaugurated with a game played in February 1926, when the visiting Midwick team from Alhambra roundly trounced the Santa Barbara team, 10-1. 

Next door to Major Max Fleischmann’s field, two additional polo fields were being constructed. After spending $200,000, the owner moved to Florida and Fleischmann purchased the incomplete fields (2 & 3) in 1929 on the adjoining 40-acre parcel and began planting “stollons” of Bermuda grass. That is how the club had three playing fields. 

It was 85 years ago in 1936 that Major Fleischmann divided his great polo complex into 10 parcels, selling each for the sum of $10. A small group of people purchased the parcels and from among their ranks, John de Blois Wack (1900-1992), who had a strong desire to perpetuate polo and safeguard the facility, assumed presidency of the club and hired Harry East, a 7-goal player from England, as manager.

Polo has a long tradition in Santa Barbara when men of Santa Barbara Country Club diligently prepared for their first game on May 19, 1899 at the Agricultural Park. Santa Barbara Polo Club is a member of the USPA Pacific Coast circuit that represents the state of California and is by far the largest circuit membership. Polo in Paradise continues!

Nigel Gallimore

Recycling Pays for Itself

I’m enjoying the continuing storyline about the search for Montecito’s wastewater solutions.

All-important systemic change only seems to “cost” more than the crappy and damaging status quo.

In the long term, recycling pays for itself and is a win for the environment and our water bills, and our souls.

I’d absolutely pay a few dollars more if I knew that I was healing the environment (and, of course, our nearby ocean-scape).

Costly-schmostly. That doesn’t fly. We don’t live in a third-world neighborhood.

P.S. Lime creeping up the cemetery’s tombstones? Lime, schmime. Take a scraper and voilá, no lime. Menial therapy for the bereaved.

Just sayin’.

LeeAnn Morgan

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

I read your April 22-29 cover story about the Randall Road Debris Basin with interest, not just because I live very close to the site, but also because I was present when the idea to build it was born.  So, I’d like to offer a correction for the record.  

Curtis Skene, our neighbor on East Valley Lane who is depicted in the article, barely survived the debris flow, shielded by a 100-year-old olive tree as his house washed away. 

In the aftermath, Curtis attended community meetings and resolved to do something constructive for his neighborhood. 

He came up with the ingenious idea to design and build a debris basin where the seven Randall Road homes were destroyed. I know this for a fact, because I was present when Curtis thought of the idea and showed it to me, more or less on the back of a napkin.  

I then watched him hire a geomorphologist to prove it would work and tirelessly lobby community members, county officials, and FEMA to approve and fund the project. Curtis Skene’s idea and implementation will safeguard all the properties downstream of the new debris basin.  

Curtis now heads a nonprofit, Partners in Community Renewal, that is studying how to develop a similar debris basin upstream of homes along Montecito Creek.

Steven A. Blum

No More Backseat Drivers

Gene Simmons from the rock band Kiss was asked what he thought the secret to a long marriage was.

One of his answers was one I’ve never heard before.

He said not driving in the same car together.

As this is not practical for most of us as we often go to the same place and same time together.

I do however agree with his premise with one caveat.

Only one person should be driving at once.

Other than imminent danger, the passenger, be it the wife or the husband, should refrain from telling the other what to do while driving.

Driving for the most part is a freedom to move about as we please.

Being unnerved from other drivers is to be expected but being unnerved from the inside of the car might be just as bad or possibly worse.

Steve Marko 
Santa Barbara


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