Life at Casa Dorinda: Another Perspective

By Montecito Journal   |   August 29, 2023

I came to Casa Dorinda in October 2020, in the middle of Covid. Despite the uncertainties and hurdles presented by the pandemic, I was thrilled at the prospect of moving here. As a single woman with no living relatives in this country, I had been exploring senior living communities for several years. Unlike many Casa residents, I was not a Santa Barbara local. Having lived and worked in Davis for over 30 years, I was ready to leave the heat of the Central Valley and was on the waiting list at a luxury senior community in San Francisco for six years. During that time, I became disenchanted with the city and decided to explore senior communities in Santa Barbara, an area with which I was somewhat familiar. Having done due diligence by checking out all the senior communities in Santa Barbara, the choice was clear: I fell in love with Casa Dorinda at first sight.

In March 2020, two days before the governor closed down the state because of the pandemic, I flew to Santa Barbara for my on-site medical examination. After passing the final hurdle for admission to Casa, I could focus on decorating my one-bedroom apartment. Among the most remarkable features of Casa, is that each apartment is unique. Depending on the condition of a vacant unit, Casa will renovate the apartment at its expense. In my case, the previous resident had lived there for many years and Casa took it down to the studs. Because I was unable to visit the campus during the remodel, all decorating decisions had to be coordinated with Casa’s talented project manager virtually. Over the next few months, we chose flooring, appliances, countertops, paint color, etc. Apart from built-in cabinetry, cork flooring, and air-conditioning, Casa assumed all the costs, which included top-of-the line appliances and other high-end products. The net result was a beautifully appointed apartment in which I immediately felt at home.

Over the years several apartments in my building have been remodeled. Whenever I contemplate complaining about the noise or inconvenience, I remind myself that my neighbors had to tolerate the renovation of my apartment and that, as members of a community, we must make compromises for the common good.

In October 2020, when I first moved to Casa, the entire community was in isolation. The Dining Room was closed, all activities were curtailed. For many months Casa’s dedicated dining staff delivered meals three times a day to our apartments, shopped for us off campus, and accommodated all our needs. Once vaccines became available, our medical staff arranged on-site vaccination clinics. Thanks to their hard work and diligence, we got through the pandemic relatively unscathed. In my experience, Casa has proven to be an extraordinary, caring community and I feel blessed to have been here during this difficult time.

Although it was before my time, many residents still vividly recall the extraordinary measures Casa took to protect its residents – including evacuating the entire campus – in the wake of recent fires and mudslides.

Since we have emerged from the pandemic, I have been able to experience Casa in its pre-Covid glory. Casa’s two dining venues have reopened, with their respective chefs engaging in a friendly competition, enticing residents with innovative new dishes. Activities, both on and off campus, have resumed. A sumptuous wine dinner, a trip to the Getty Museum, a pool party, art exhibits by residents, musical performances, and lectures by local off-campus speakers are just some of the events on this month’s calendar. Casa regularly provides transportation to musical and other cultural events, as well as to the Farmers Market and other shopping venues. 

But what makes Casa special is the sense of community that emanates here. It is engendered by its staff, many of whom have worked here for decades. Within days of moving in, all the staff knew my name. But it is also attributable to the residents, who come from all walks of life and who truly care for one another’s well-being. I moved to a retirement community because, although I enjoyed living alone, I always knew I didn’t want to grow old in isolation. As an outgoing individual, I assumed I would find new companions at Casa. I did not anticipate making deep, meaningful friendships at this stage in my life. To my surprise and delight I have done so. 

Coming to Casa Dorinda was one of the best decisions I ever made. I feel profoundly fortunate to be living here, surrounded by the natural beauty of Santa Barbara and secure in the knowledge that I will be well-cared for the rest of my life. 

Anna K. Kuhn 

Casa Dorinda resident Response to Randy Alcorn

In case anyone came away with the wrong impression of what I meant after reading Mr. Alcorn’s rebuttal to my letter in last week’s issue of Montecito Journal, you should know that even when I served as editor/publisher of Montecito Journal, I wrote a column for “the competition” – the Santa Barbara News-Press – in the mid-’90s. I did it to promote Montecito as a separate entity, but I am as sad as anyone that a city as vibrant and important as Santa Barbara no longer has a newspaper of record.


The best example I can think of to buttress my contention that The New York Times didn’t know Santa Barbara nor much care about it, is a story it ran early on about “a Los Angeles-area lawyer.” That Los-Angeles area lawyer was a Santa Barbara lawyer and the “Los-Angeles area” in question was Santa Barbara. While one could forgive the staffer who ran with the Associated Press piece without inquiring into the identity of the lawyer – a prominent member of the legal community locally – the story (I forget the details) could easily have been enhanced with a little local knowledge, including a short interview with the subject.

That kind of thing happened often under the guardianship of The New York Times.

There were so many other miscues that led many (including me) to understand that The New York Times had bigger fish to fry and couldn’t be bothered with the small stuff.

This area was beneath them. 

As for the paper’s destruction, when most of the staff pulled the duct tape stunt on its new publisher, Wendy McCaw, it really was the beginning of the end. Many in the local “liberal” community canceled their subscriptions and took to bad-mouthing the paper and its publisher, causing its base of support to collapse.

True, she knew little of publishing and most certainly offended the delicate sensibilities of the editors and staffers who apparently felt they should have the last word on what was fit to print, not the owner. But it was Ms. McCaw who bore the final responsibility for the paper’s content.

Oh, and as to the “same kind of mind-numbing garbage” that virtually every newspaper prints. That description of editorial content has nothing to do with my political leanings; virtually all the news that’s fit to print these days is neither objective nor astute. It is, in fact, mostly recycled and unresearched rubbish.

In the end, the duct-taped staff got what it wanted: a dead newspaper.


Jim Buckley

Agree With Alcorn

Thank you for publishing Randy Alcorn’s letter to MJ. It provided a needed remedy on the previous article published on the history of the News-Press dating back to its acquisition by The New York Times

My activist experience with the News-Press coverage goes back 60 years, covering in detail a variety of significant local events (environmental litigation, key zoning issues, human rights, political campaigns, and the occasional case of public corruption). Under the guidance of first-rate editors and managers, the tradition of open journalism thrived before and after The NY Times ownership. 

Francis Sarguis  


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