An Open Letter to the Santa Barbara Community

By Montecito Journal   |   October 18, 2022

We knew Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree as the “Philanthropist of Santa Barbara.” As we lay her to rest, her presence in our city will continue as we pass by the many buildings and plaques that carry her name: The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum Clinic; the Ridley-Tree Education Center at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art. It is not hyperbole to say that if Lady Ridley-Tree’s name was attached to a charitable event, it leveraged additional significant contributions. She became a symbol of giving for the city and, for many, she set an example about how to give. She began to define philanthropy the way that brands come to identify the thing – to “Google” means to search or to “Xerox” is to copy. 

In a way, the city thrived with her. And in a way, her legend expanded beyond herself. 

And yet, in the quiet moments, there was also the real Leslie. A tremendous and complex woman whose big life no single person knew in its complete picture. 

It is in this vein that her family and friends will remember her.

Here is what you can’t Google about Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, but what those who loved her closely knew and wanted to share: 

– favorite painting was a valueless 4”x4” still life that was passed down in her family by her Aunt Rovena

– read her prayer book every morning

– took her grandson to his first Star Wars movie

– loved Paul (her husband) until her last breath

– drove across the country several times living out of a blue VW microbus

– always carried a handkerchief in her purse

– saved every Thank-You letter written by student recipients of her scholarship

– could cut you to the quick with one word

– Covid, she gave money to every staff member at Cottage Hospital to show support for their efforts

– never wrote a single speech and always spoke off the cuff

– hoped to inspire the best in everyone around her

We will miss our Leslie and celebrate her life on October 29 at 2:30 pm at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Space is very limited. Livestream will be provided. No flowers. Please send donations to your favorite charity in her memory. 

From the Family of Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree

Montecito Water Meters and Flume

Montecito Water District uses Badger E-Series water meters with no moving parts. The Badger E-Series meter is an easy meter to read. You just cover the optical switch for a second or two and it will begin to give you a flow readout on the display. Flume only works with meters with moving parts and last time I looked it was incompatible with Flume. Flume itself is only telling you what your meter is already registering. Flume is redundant with Badger E-series meters, the only benefit to Flume is the app and, in my view, people using the app often mistake Flume for a leak detector. It is not. It simply measures flow as does the Badger E. Neither Badger or Flume can pinpoint the spot on your property where the problem is.

Water flow could be a running toilet, a dripping garden faucet or a swimming pool auto fill, etc.

Most people in Montecito have gardeners. Most gardeners can be taught how to read a Badger E meter and how to figure out if the water flow is inside the home or in the garden (

One thing Montecito Water should do is print this in Spanish. Maybe they already have.

Steve Gowler

The Law is AB 2147.

AB 2147 states officers should not stop and cite a crossing pedestrian. Jaywalking is implied. Now for the rest of law.

“Unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or other device by human power” (such as a bicycle).

I think that is clear.

Whatever could go wrong?

Steven Marko

Vote for the School Board Races

The evidence is indisputable: Excessive COVID school closures, mandates, and protocols caused significant harm and learning loss on Santa Barbara’s youth. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we elect school board trustee members who understand that educating our children is job number 1. We need trustees who will represent parents and students and who will lead without loyalties to established political parties. It is time to focus on educational outcomes and give our youth the opportunities they deserve for the future. Please vote for the following candidates:

Santa Barbara Unified School District, Area 1: Dan La Berge or Efigenia Banales

Santa Barbara Unified School District, Area 4: Phebe Mansur

Santa Barbara County Board of Education Area 1: Rosanne Crawford

Santa Barbara City College Area 1: Debi Stoker

Santa Barbara City College Area 5: Sharon Salvador-Jegottka

Cori Hayman

Don’t Be Fooled

With each election we see many flashy, high-gloss flyers in the mail supporting one or another candidate or measure. This year we see the same misrepresentation by the No on Measure T group. Do you believe them? Almost every statement they make contradicts the City’s 9212 report. That report was presented before the Carpinteria City Council, as allowed by state law.

Legal language is confusing and I am quoting from those documents and placing more familiar language in “people speak.”

For example, “City staff interprets that the addition of ‘existing parking’ to the OSR (Open Space Recreation) Land Use category definition does not by itself preclude ‘new parking’ on OSR designated parcels within the City.” (Page 10, paragraph 3.) In other words, parking is allowed.

Another example from the No campaign: Measure T will lead to “High density multi-family residential development of Parking Lot 3.” Whereas the City wrote, “While Measure T2022 would continue that residential overlay, per state law, the density allowable follows the underlaying density and the only housing allowed on REC (Recreational) zone is a caretaker’s dwelling on Parking Lot #3.” (9212 Report, page 11, paragraph 3.) So, there will be NO high-density residential development there.

The City attorney stated that “no other OSR (Open Space Recreation) parcels in the City have this (residential) overlay.” So why are there so many misrepresentations or false statements made by the No folks? They seem to be using scare tactics and intimidation. 

What does YES on Measure T2022 do? It stops commercial development of public land, i.e. the hotel, on parking lot 3. Public land owned by Carpinterians will be safe from private developers. It maintains the Carpinteria we all love – the last small-beach town in Southern California. 

Vote YES on Measure T.

Amrita M. Salm

The Benefit of Unions

To read Mr. Hazard’s Op Ed, “California Scheming: Fast Food Folly Unfrocked,” the unions caused gas price increase, homelessness, increasing crime rate, sky high home prices, and utilities. Historically, Unions gave us better wages, workplace safety, social security and pensions plans, health care through work, child labor laws, 40-hour week, overtime pay, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, etc. None of that was given voluntarily by businesses and corporations. A few years ago, there was news that big corporations were advising their low-paid employees how to apply for government sponsored health insurance and food stamps. To this day, we subsidize a lot of businesses with low wages through programs like earned income tax credit, food stamps, Section 8 housing, and governmental health insurance. Some political leaders believe that if a business cannot pay decent wages, maybe they should not be in business. What do you think?

Danute Handy

Re: An Opinion on Joe Biden (Sanderson M. Smith)

Mr. Smith has been writing virtually the same letter about every Democratic president since Bill Clinton. Only the names and the laundry list of complaints have changed. This reminds me of a scene from the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. The animals stage a rebellion and chase the humans off the farm. They learn to chant, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Mr. Smith’s letters are the equivalent of Republicans good, Democrats bad. He laughingly claims the high ground of tolerance by saying he wanted Biden to do well, but after allegedly wrestling with his conscience for almost two years, has come to the conclusion “that Biden is a complete disaster as our president.” His letters condemning President Biden, which began a few short months into his term, tell a very different story.

In regards to the tired old trope that we were “energy independent” during Trump’s administration, Mr. Smith conveniently fails to define that term. If it means we don’t import oil from undemocratic (and sometimes hostile) countries, that hasn’t been true since the 1940s. If it means we are producing more than we consume, that became true in 2020 primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and not because of anything Trump did (Forbes, Oct. 1, 2022).

Inflation is a world-wide problem. More can and should be done to find a solution and President Biden will rightfully take the heat if it isn’t. But, President Biden did not cause the problem. The inflation rates for Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Germany are all between 8% and 10%. Is Biden solely responsible for those rates as well?

Trump’s negotiated agreement (i.e. capitulation) in Afghanistan allowed the Taliban to secure the provinces and move into Kabul more quickly than Biden or the DOD had predicted. Due to Trump’s poor negotiating skills and subsequent poor intelligence by Biden’s team, lives were tragically lost. But, President Biden got us out of Afghanistan… something none of his immediate predecessors were willing or able to do.

Trump’s policy “to secure our borders” consisted of 1) building a porous border wall that he said Mexico would pay for (they didn’t) and which could be breached by simple over-the-counter garden tools and 2) locking up adolescents, toddlers, and infants (who had committed no crime) in what were cleverly referred to as “Tender Age Detention Centers.”

Can Mr. Smith ever write a letter composed of facts (rather than banal and easily rebutted generalities) without complaining about the constraints of word limits? Time will tell.

Robert Baruch  


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