Re: Roundabouts

By Montecito Journal   |   September 19, 2023

I’m not a civil engineer so I admit to being somewhat confused about the need for roundabouts versus single lane stops due to the improvements to the HWY101. More lanes are not exiting onto San Ysidro or Coast Village at once are they? My concern is one of proper (and pleasing) scale and awkwardness. These roundabouts, assuming they were “necessary,” seem over-scaled and awkward to me. And I do agree with you [Gwyn Lurie], they do change the village feel. Granted things aren’t finished yet, but I did notice that yielding into the circle from San Ysidro’s Upper Village lane felt somewhat blind last week. 

To address your concern about changing Montecito, I did experience this over a 40-year period on Cape Cod. Villages along Route 6 became much more suburban feeling over time and off exits became depots for big box stores and strip malls. It very much degraded the feel and small business was never the same. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard have done a much better job, but they’re islands with much stricter zoning. 

Anyway, that’s my input for whatever it’s worth. I personally preferred things just the way they were.

Marianne Hanley

Signal Change

As non-residents with strong ties to Montecito, my husband and I are disappointed in the new roundabout at CVR. In the past, exiting the HWY101 North at Olive Mill signaled the beginning of our vacation, and we would begin to relax as the mere sight of Coast Village Road stretched out before us. In particular, we always enjoyed seeing that old Biltmore sign. Do you know what happened to it? (As a sidenote, we’ve been staying at the Biltmore for over a decade and are greatly anticipating its opening “supposedly” a year from now.) The roundabout takes away the quaintness that was that little area of Coast Village Road, and navigating the back-and-forth between the cars was never a bother for us, but rather a sign that we were in a more relaxed place where so-called improvements had not yet wriggled their way in. Perhaps it will make a difference in traffic flow but from our point of view we were happier without it. And regarding Restoration Hardware, well, the thought makes me cringe a little. I’m willing to give it time to see how things pan out but we hope it’s not the beginning of a trend towards more chain stores. That would certainly change the dynamic of our beautiful little town.

Thanks for your article and I enjoy every issue of Montecito Journal online.

My Best,
Debbie Oldewage

Some Questions on Housing Developments

I read a recent article of another four-story apartment complex slated for review and approval before the planning commission. This one is proposed on West Carrillo Street. It would provide over 30 units of various sizes, from single bedrooms to two-bedroom units. ‘Work force’ housing is the catch phrase used now to describe this type of housing. It is yet another example of how Santa Barbara is addressing the so-called chronic housing crises and shortage facing all the communities in our state. Our local politicians tout how this being a place where tenants will have easy access to downtown amenities using the downtown core as their ‘living room’ to shop, dine, recreate, and create community. Which all sounds wonderful, but, unfortunately, it’s not based in reality. First and foremost, there is no parking provided. New laws passed by the state make it allowable to build apartment complexes like this without any type of parking as long as it’s close by a bus stop – really!? This goes by the assumption that the people who will be renting these apartments won’t have or need a car. The second assumption is those that rent these apartments will increase and support the local downtown economy by the very fact they are ‘stuck’ there. But who would rent these apartments, what demographic group would want to live under these types of conditions? Has there been an actual study understanding who that would be? Where would people park, where would visitors park? How is the whole infrastructure of the area impacted by such a development? Would families with children want to live there? Do people who own a car want to live there? It may solve one issue but then turn around and create a whole new list of other issues. The only other demographic group I see that would want to live in such a place are students or people who are living here temporarily; ‘transitional’ populations who really don’t support the tax base of the city. Another group would be people on fixed incomes such as the elderly, people needing subsidized housing (section 8), and the homeless. People with small children, who own vehicles, who like to have social gatherings with family and friends would be hard pressed to find living in these ‘work force’ housing conditions to be a desirable option if not completely impractical. Because of the very limitations these apartments offer, I’d rather commute, I’d want more than just a place close to downtown. So the ultimate question is: what issues are actually resolved with these large apartment complexes other than satisfying the state mandated requirements for the city to meet their housing ‘quota’? Again, our politicians may paint a rosy picture of this type of development, but ultimately in the long run, is it really affecting our city in a positive direction, or will it overburden the already overcrowded conditions that exist in our downtown area and make matters only worse? 

Brian Miller  


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