Montecito Association Meets
At this month’s Montecito Association Board meeting, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi reported on the crime highlights in Montecito for the last month, which include a washed up panga boat on Butterfly Beach; $10,000 of vandalism by a well-known guest at the Rosewood Miramar Resort; assault at a juvenile party on Middle Road; residential burglary on East Mountain Drive; illegal campers in tents on Butterfly Beach; burglary at Montecito Academy on Lillie Avenue in Summerland; and check fraud on Ortega Hill Road.
Undersheriff Craig Bonner gave a presentation on a pilot program coming to the County, including Montecito: the Sheriff’s Department has been given the
opportunity to take part in a study conducted by the National Policing Institute which would place 25 fixed position automatic license plate readers throughout the county.
As Montecito Association Executive Director Sharon Byrne reported in last week’s Montecito Journal, the cameras would be in position for one year at no cost to the County or Sheriff’s Department. “It’s an awesome opportunity to evaluate the potential value of this technology, basically it’s an extensive test drive of the technology, with no obligation to continue,” Deputy Bonner said, adding that the technology will be utilized to help law enforcement solve significant crimes, and will not be used for traffic enforcement. “There is no facial recognition, and the data gleaned is not tied to personal identifying information,” he said. If a vehicle is identified as being part of a crime, the license plate will be entered into the system and if the vehicle drives by one of the plate readers, sheriffs’ deputies will be notified. The technology has been implemented in other areas of the country and has helped to recover stolen property, kidnapping victims, and helped to find at-risk people.
Deputy Bonner said footage from the plate readers will be owned by the Sheriff’s Department and never sold or shared; it is deleted after 30 days if it is not being used to solve a significant crime, and there will be strict usage controls. The Sheriff’s Department is currently seeking input on where the plate readers should be located. Contact Deputy Bonner at Cmb2474@sbsheriff.org.
Also discussed at the meeting: the MA Board of Directors was given a presentation on the progress of Walk Montecito, a project led by the Bucket Brigade that will ultimately create eight miles of roadside walking trails throughout Montecito. The grassroots initiative calls for pedestrian improvements that are in alignment with the semi-rural ambiance of Montecito, prohibiting paved, concrete sidewalks that are not compatible with the Montecito Community Plan. The mix of formal and non-formal trails are and will be ADA friendly in most areas, and are or will be made from both decomposed granite in main thoroughfares, and informal compacted shale along sideroads, connecting to nature trails through public open spaces and parks.
The trail construction schedule aims for trails on Barker Pass later this year, Sycamore Canyon in the beginning of next year, and Camino Viejo next spring/summer. “We see this as a gift we are giving to the community and our children to give them a truly walkable Montecito,” said Bucket Brigade founder Abe Powell, adding that a portion of East Valley Road is also being discussed as a parallel project to the Walk Montecito project, borne out of a safety concern after a student was hit while walking.
Several members of the community spoke at the meeting, voicing concern about liability protection, easements, right-of-way, maintenance, public outreach, and project management. “I’ve heard loud and clear that there is a disconnect happening regarding public outreach,” said Montecito Association Board President Megan Orloff. “I think we need to make sure we are listening on both sides of the table and that outreach is happening. I encourage that conversation to continue.”
Volunteers, sponsorship, and financial support is needed to make the Walk Montecito project happen. Fundraising continues. For more information, visit sbbucketbrigade.org.
During Community Reports, Montecito Water General Manager Nick Turner said that water use in the community continues to be 15-20% elevated above planned levels. “We have water to accommodate that now, but it means a projected future shortage will come sooner,” he said. “It’s extremely important to do what we can to reduce usage.”
For water saving resources, visit montecitowater.com.
The next Montecito Association Board of Directors meeting is Tuesday, October 11.