Response to Jon Emanuel’s Letter to the Editor in Support of Using Hot Springs Water to Irrigate Estates

By Montecito Journal   |   February 22, 2022
Another abandoned pipe in Hot Springs Creek, this time a plastic one

It’s interesting that one person getting water from the Montecito Creek Water Company, Mr. Jon Emanuel, and not the company itself, responded to my letter advocating return of the Montecito hot springs by the ruins (Cliff Spring and Barn Springs) to the people.

He claims I said things that are “factually incorrect,” yet he characterizes the Chumash in the following way: “Putting aside how many Chumash are currently desirous of driving their cars to Montecito… for the pleasure of enjoying a plunge in a hot springs as opposed to their jacuzzies in Santa Ynez” (even as he suggests the soak could be offered for free to them)…

It’s true the Santa Ynez band of Chumash is doing well today (this group experienced poverty until around 2004 when the enlarged casino was built) but most Chumash people aren’t from the Santa Ynez reservation, don’t have jacuzzies, and aren’t wealthy. There are thirteen other bands of the Chumash, including the Barbareño Chumash, the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, the Cuyama Chumash, the Ventura Chumash, and the Los Angeles Chumash. It’s estimated 5,000 Chumash people are living today, and only about 250 reside on the Santa Ynez reservation (five percent).

Then Mr. Emanuel claims Hot Springs Trail is a “littered and graffiti strewn trail.” Actually, there’s only two places I’ve seen graffiti that’s not on water company structures, one on a sign saying “Private Property” on a dirt road near the trailhead, the other on a rock. As far as litter is concerned, there’s not much to be found except for numerous abandoned metal and plastic pipes, many lying right in the watershed. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will verify the existence of these pipes.

When’s the last time he’s been on the trail?

The best solution would be for the Montecito Creek Water Company to voluntarily remove all the abandoned pipes. This company can also contribute to the cost of repairing the trail from erosion damage caused by leaky pipes. Also, the pipe carrying hot spring water to the estates should be moved off the trail, and out of sight. Isn’t it the right thing to do for the water company to clean up its own mess? The cost of cleanup would be passed on to Mr. Emanuel and other users of the water. Will the residents getting the water be good environmental stewards and support a cleanup effort?

Where the hot springs water is distributed to estates on upper Hot Springs Road and Riven Rock Road pipes aren’t going down the middle of estate owners’ pathways. Most likely the pipes are buried to avoid an unsightly mess – Mr. Emanuel could enlighten us on how the pipes are laid out. Does he have old, broken pipes strewn all over his property? Shouldn’t our public land get as much respect?

Mr. Emanuel claims I’m proposing a taking of residents’ water rights. I never said that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the water company were to voluntarily sell the water rights at a fair price to aid in the restoration of the canyon? The fundraiser idea he suggested is excellent.

Perhaps the water company and restored hot springs could coexist with an outflow pipe from hot springs pools leading to residents’ estates. Indeed, the Montecito Creek Water Company, established on March 15, 1893, coexisted with hot springs resorts for years. It would be better for the ecology, however, if the hot springs water were to overflow into the creek.

He states that he doesn’t have a Montecito Water District meter for irrigation. As a matter of fact, his property doesn’t have a District water meter at all. That’s because he and 25 other residents receive District water in bulk through the Riven Rock Mutual.

He writes “Bryan asserts that the estate owners don’t need the water. Why is that?” They don’t need the hot springs water because they can use the District water for irrigation like the rest of us.

He expresses concern about a new attraction exasperating the access problems. But it could be a win-win situation. The parking and access problem could be solved in the next six months if the county would get moving on it (provide a reasonable amount of parking spaces, paint curbs red, and provide a shuttle). After that is done the restored hot springs could be opened to the public.

Bryan Rosen

Reckoning With Our Past

There are three beautiful things born exclusively in America – the Constitution, Jazz and Baseball. And yet someone in a group will be able to argue about past transgressions involving these no doubt. Lately, we have been experiencing a “war over history” and cultural divisions that spring up as statues are taken down and buildings renamed. It may be time to take a breath and reflect. Upon doing this one realizes heated arguments about this country’s history, are seldom based on facts (sadly most of us cannot pass the U.S. Citizenship history test) because the fights are not concerned with what happened so much as what we should feel about it. For instance, the real debate about the discovery of this country is whether the European discovery of America and everything that evolved since, including the founding of this U.S., should be celebrated or lamented. Historians past and present ask, “Is America exemplary and honorable” or the reverse? How that is answered is important because the more America slips from its ideals the more it needs to self-correct. Such arguments can become emotional, often involving past symbols, usually detached from practical issues. People have been living in what we call California for over 12,000 years, many died or were pushed out. No one living in Santa Barbara plans on vacating their home due to the knowledge of dispossessed past residents from time immemorial. The point is how do we look to the future believing that America is exemplary and honorable in principle but sometimes regrettable in practice. Other countries, less open and free than ours, take extraordinary measures to hide their past transgressions, one only needs to look at Putin’s encouragement of resurrecting esteem for Stalin. Our own history certainly discloses instances of betrayal of genuine American principles and our journey forward is not easy nor over. But history has also shown that we are a resilient country showing the capability of self-correcting and striving to honor our ideals. Facts of the past matter less than how we feel about our country going forward. The future of America is at stake. And, the world needs America, the Ukraine issue clearly illustrates that.

J.W. Burk

Re: Neutrality in Perpetuity (Rowland Lane Anderson)

I appreciate and respect Mr. Anderson’s commitment to peace over war, but his examples regarding neutrality as they allegedly relate to Russia/Ukraine, have more holes than Swiss cheese. In World Wars I and II, Switzerland made their own decision to stay neutral. In the 1980’s, Costa Rica independently declared “permanent and unarmed” neutrality. If Ukraine wants to go down that road, the decision should also be theirs and theirs alone.

To claim that a neutral Ukraine “is all that Putin is asking for” is an extreme case of wishful thinking, at best. That’s like saying all Xi Jinping is asking for is a neutral Taiwan. In 2014, Putin took Crimea by sheer military force. Why would anyone believe that he’s now interested in neutrality for the rest of Ukraine?

Robert Baruch

Condolences to Otis and family


Our entire family (including Hugo pictured below) appreciated your super-sad story about Otis.

Together we learned about overheating, something we were completely unaware of – THANK YOU!!!

Warm Regards,

Jeff Giordano  


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