Clarification and Public Input Needed Over Riven Rock Parking Problem

By Montecito Journal   |   June 17, 2021

The public’s right to use and enjoy Los Padres National Park and a number of its trails has little meaning when the public has no practical means of accessing Hot Springs Trail and others. Conflicts arise between private landowners and the general public who wish to enjoy wilderness areas that are not accessible without parking on the streets near such private landowners. Reasonable means of ingress and egress to the park must be continued. Solving the quandary of private ownership versus public access is not easy. However, the challenging nature of the task should not discourage deliberation on the topic.

To me the Riven Rock parking problem is a perfect example of due process ignored. The local authorities should have given notice to the public, asked for input and/or held a public hearing on this change in accordance with California administrative law and procedure. It appears to me that based on the lack of hearing and public notice, the local authorities may have stepped on the public’s rights.

The public needs transparency: a publicly written explanation from the County Supervisors and the county agencies involved in this decision of how and why they came up with their decision, why there was no public notice or meeting and why Riven Rock is one big exception to the “right of way” rules. 

Everyone should complain to their County Supervisor and ask them how they are going to rectify this violation of the public’s rights. In addition, shouldn’t the public be made aware of who has encroachment permits and, if not, why is their landscaping or rocks in the right-of-way jeopardizing the safety of pedestrians.

Most Montecito homeowners have planted their landscape or placed rocks to the street’s edge. Under the law a “road right-of-way” gives local jurisdictions public access over private property to allow for a community’s transportation needs. To place anything structural in the road right of way, such as landscaping, walls, fences, driveways or gates, you need the county’s permission via an “encroachment permit.”

Santa Barbara County Public Works Road Encroachment policies require an edge-of-road clear zone, meaning there must be an unobstructed flat area beyond the edge of pavement. That means, before installation, fixed objects like rocks, walls, trees, landscaping or fences generally require an encroachment permit. The encroachment policies state any fixed objects must be set back at least seven feet (25 mph roads) to 10 feet (25 to 35 mph roads). In Montecito specifically, the Public Works policies say landscaping of any kind is not allowed in the clear zone unless pedestrian facilities are provided. Do all the residents have encroachment permits?

In summary, I am disappointed in our local government officials and entities in not letting the public be involved via public notice and hearings. I am also disappointed in the Montecito Trails Foundation in their lack of notice to its members. If your government can take away one trailhead via lack of parking, which trailheads are next?

The only thing wrong with democratic process is the failure to use it.

Gordon Hartwig 

Bear Cares

Fish and Wildlife gave a good presentation Carlos thought, as he closed the Zoom meeting. He was pleased that some 20 people attended. It meant Montecito cared for bears. From what he could make of it, most people do not want him to get hurt. He feared going to bear rehab in some other unknown area, but as Fish and Wildlife pointed out, they do not do that anymore.

They know his addiction to poultry and trashy food would make him try and find his way back to his usual haunts anyway, and that would be hazardous for Carlos. He learned that instead of relocating him, they suggest that the folks who have food sources keep them well protected, bear-proof trash cans and fortified chicken coops were a great alternative which, in turn, would gently nudge him away from his poultry plans and towards a healthier diet. In short, encourage Carlos to follow Wendy Bear’s advice.

Carlos put Amy Winehouse on stream and listened to her sing “Rehab” with his earbuds while he made a salad of grubs, berries, and tasty bushes. He danced as he ate while recounting the news that other bears were in his neighborhood. He had not seen any of them but had seen tracks. A momma bear and two cubs, not far from his den. He worried about running into them. He knew to keep clear of a mother bear and her babies as they were dangerous if provoked and thought it best to give them space.

So, Carlos, his post hibernation hunger subsiding, decided to cool his paws, lay off the chickens and recycled food, then talk with Wendy Bear about coming up with a plan that might make him an abiding bear.

Carlos would like to thank everyone who attended the Town Hall and Fish and Wildlife, as well as the Montecito Association for providing superior service to this community, because he, as a bear, cares.

Michael Edwards

Putting Everything in Perspective

According to NASA, in a few (108 to 156) years, “asteroid impacts” will quickly put everything into perspective. We will wistfully reminisce back to these, the good old days, of faux-existential issues such as social justice, infrastructure, climate change, pandemics, face masks, and critical race theory.

However, even the destruction from these careening rocks from space will seem petty in comparison to the damage that will eventually be inflicted by our nearest star.

Whether it happens next month, next week or tomorrow, modern civilization’s greatest threat will come from a coronal mass ejection (CME) similar to the 1859 Carrington Event.

Visualize no utilities, no ATMs, no pizza delivery, no satellites or streaming video.

Cautiously staring at the sun, not angry, hypersonic boulders.

Dale Lowdermilk, 
Meteorite collector

Proud of our Preservation

To stop the bulldozers, to preserve San Marcos Foothills and its wildlife, to keep paws, hooves and feet traveling its trails, to see this land alive with native plants rather than buried under luxury homes. As a 12-year-old boy, I made a pledge to myself and our community when I joined the Save the San Marcos Foothills campaign in August. Thanks to the tireless work of many volunteers and donations of thousands of generous people, I am optimistic about the future of the San Marcos Foothills. I am grateful to live in a community that chose to preserve open space over development.

Together we saved 101 acres of natural habitat that could have been lost forever to development. I hope that our community and trusted officials will continue to protect natural habitats and nurture wildlife for future generations.

With gratitude and hope,

Pyp Pratt

Tuning Him Out

It almost breaks my heart to hear elderly white men, like Mr. Jim Buckley, cry over the good old days. I am definitely older than Mr. Buckley, and I lived thru the era that he mentions. The Civil Rights movement was hastened in the ‘50s by activists that came from WWII and the Korean War. What helped their cause was not so much free press as Fairness Doctrine of 1948, where TV programs were required to give both sides of issues. All of a sudden we saw the brutality of Jim Crow, the Rosa Parks boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. in jail, Bull Connors and his dogs, the Emmett Till lynching, and Freedom Riders attacks on the screen in our living rooms.

All I can say about the free press is that Mr. Buckley has that absolute right, except to yell “fire” in a crowded room. On the other hand, I have the absolute right not to read anything he writes (“Voices” in the local paper), or turn off my hearing aid to anything he says.

Donna Handy

A Thin-skinned Montecito?

Good lord, have Montecito skins grown so thin and Montecito sensibilities so delicate that columns must be taken up apologizing for the vivid language used in a previous column?

And would someone please let me know where and when it was decreed — and by whom! — that the expression “panties in a twist” is deeply offensive? Somehow that cultural development passed me by. I use the expression myself occasionally and have for decades, and so far, no one has seen fit to scold me for it. Mostly, in fact, people laugh . . . because it’s a funny image and turn of phrase, you know? And last I checked, British journalists (females and males both, strangely enough) still enjoy using the expression “knickers in a twist.” It isn’t easy to be more uptight and proper than the Brits, but I guess it’s wise never to underestimate Montecito.

Anyway, I’d like to vouch for the fact that Jim Buckley, who I know a little, is an open-minded and kind man, as well as one who relishes a lively disagreement, and I’d like to volunteer a bit of information that some of your quicker-to-take-offense readers seem unaware of: As an editor and columnist, Jim is an inspired and lively exponent of a salty, opinionated, provocative journalistic tradition — think Mencken, Florence King, Mike Royko — that’s one of the glories of American literature.

Grow a bit of a hide, snowflakes, and let yourself enjoy some smart irreverence and rowdiness. Life will become a lot more fun when you do.

Ray Sawhill

Just Askin’ the Questions . . .

Just a short note to ask a few questions of several detractors who wrote letters to the editor in last week’s edition:

I’m curious as to Robert Baruch’s contention that I like “to play hide-and-seek with the truth,” or that I “camouflage” a partisan bias with sarcasm and innuendo. I do believe I’ve always been upfront with what I am for and what I am against and, as far as I can tell, never wavered in that philosophy during my years as Editor/Publisher of Montecito Journal. If playing hide-and-seek with the truth is similar to questioning what the meaning of “is” is, or telling people they were going to save $2,500 a year by passing ObamaCare, or insisting that COVID-19 could not possibly have come from the virology lab in Wuhan, then I’ve been miscast and slandered. But, hey, that’s kind of par for the course for this group, isn’t it?

As for Kerin Friden’s suggestion that “there are still those that are able to communicate with civility and provide fact-based information,” well, yes there are. I don’t believe I insulted anyone in my original piece, but have since been roundly insulted, so I do have to ask, who was it that hurled “insults to those holding opposing views?” And who exactly is providing “fact-based information”?

To Lee Chiacos: there is plenty of ink to go around (this paper buys it by the barrel); why not allow an opposing point of view a little space now and then?

Just asking.

Jim Buckley


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