Keep Montecito Clean

By Montecito Journal   |   October 12, 2021

What a joy to return in late summer to my home in Montecito and discover the newly constructed, protected walking path along Hot Springs Road. Twenty years ago, when my husband and I first came, we often walked cautiously up to East Valley Road and back, hoping for safety from passing vehicles. Thanks now to the ingenuity and hard work of the Bucket Brigade, the new pathway provides a much safer route to follow.

Unfortunately, there is a bug in the ointment — a litter bug. No sooner had I walked a block on the east side of Hot Springs Road than I observed 12 empty mini-size Vodka bottles scattered in the bushes along the way, two quart-sized beer bottles, a few cans, some paper cups, and a few cigarette butts. Mind you, those were the visible items. Surely there were more buried under the brush. This is nothing new. It goes back to the past 20 years when we were young enough to don some gloves and pick up much of the trash ahead of Beautification Day.

I believe the fine for littering can be quite hefty, if caught. Surely the offenders have little respect for private property or the beauty of our sweet town. Meanwhile, placed in the proper containers, our faithful MarBorg Company will gladly dispose of collected trash. So, let’s focus on clean streets and walks, and eliminate ugly misplaced trash. Keep Montecito clean!!!! It’s such a nice place to live.

Patricia A. Moylan

That Didn’t Go as Planned

One year ago this week, Rinaldo Brutoco, a frequent contributor to the Montecito Journal, told readers that, “…if you are still holding on to any stocks, bonds or excessive cash, I strongly urge you to sell them and purchase gold from one of the two ETCs” he recommends [I believe he meant ETFs, or exchange traded funds]. This seemed to me to be very questionable advice at the time, but the fair thing to do was to see how well this recommendation held up over the course of a year.

Disastrously, in a word. Since September 17, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (an index of the stock prices of 30 large industrial companies) is up 25%, the S&P 500 (a similar index, but encompassing 500 of the largest U.S. companies) is up 34% and the NASDAQ (again similar, but for more than 3,500 mostly technology and internet-related companies) is up 39%. This means that a $1 million retirement portfolio, say, invested in an index fund tracking any of these three groups of companies would have appreciated by between $250,000 and $390,000 in the last year.  

By contrast, the gold fund that Brutoco described as his “favorite” — State Street Gold Minishares — was down nearly 8% on the year. In other words, that hypothetical $1 million retirement portfolio invested there would have lost $80,000 in the last year. Brutoco’s other recommended gold fund was down less (-0.85%) but putting one’s money there would still have been very, very costly.

Although the very long-term return to stocks has been three to four times that of gold, there certainly have been periods of time when gold has outperformed equities, as Mr. Brutoco correctly points out. But virtually none of us is smart enough to know just when those periods will begin and end. Moreover, as the highly regarded firm, TCI Wealth Advisors, has recently pointed out, gold has been an even more volatile investment than equities over the past 40 years.

Boring as it might seem, the best advice for most people regarding long-term investing is that which we hear most often: buy and hold a diverse portfolio of mostly small, medium,  and large-cap stocks, along with some fixed income holdings (bonds) and, possibly, some alternative investments — the latter being comprised of real property, private equity, venture capital and yes, even gold if one is so disposed.

Paul R. Portne
Santa Barbara

About That Location . . .

Every week I scan Mr. Brutoco’s column and shake my head with amusement. His heart is obviously in the right place, but he’s very confused about his facts. In his latest column he criticizes the city for being shortsighted enough to place the desalination plant near the ocean. He suggests we should move it up to the Cater Water Treatment Plant above Foothill (elevation 486 feet or 148 meters). Sorry, Mr. Brutoco, but every desal plant is placed at or near sea level for a simple reason: the ocean contains the seawater which is to be desalinated. The ocean is also where the brine which is a by-product of desalination is to be discharged.

Now, of course, it’s reasonable to ask the question of how long it will take before sea level rise swamps the desal plant. USGS elevation maps put the desal plant at 24 feet (7.3 meters) above mean sea level. The local rise in sea level in Santa Barbara has averaged 1.1 millimeter (mm) per year since the early 1970s. This is much lower than the global average (~3 mm/yr) for a variety of complex reasons. At this rate it would take more than 6,000 years before the desal plant is swamped. Of course, it’s true that sea level rise is accelerating, but even with a worst-case 100-fold acceleration over the 21st century, sea level in Santa Barbara would reach near eight feet in 2100, well short of the treatment plant.

Rather than criticizing the city, we should laud them for one of the most far-sighted and consequential decisions they’ve ever made: providing a sustainable and essentially endless supply of fresh water to meet our vital needs in a region where water security is and will always be a challenge.

David Lea

In Need of a Paint Job

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 30, a car on Channel Drive got a ticket for parking in a red zone. As the block was less than half-full, a surcharge for arrogance might have been in order. The red zone is closer to the shade of pink.

My best guess is that curb has not been painted in about a decade.

The red zone is there so cars and bicycles have the room and the visibility to negotiate the turn in a safe manner.

In fairness to all involved a can of red paint and a couple of painting hours would go a long, long way.

Steven Marko


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