The Rosewood Plan

By Montecito Journal   |   June 11, 2024

As a nearby, full-time neighbor of the Rosewood Miramar Hotel, and directly affected by their construction and traffic, I feel very qualified to respond to their plan to commercialize and build up this part of Montecito with a high-end shopping mall, restaurant, and expensive apartments. This plan proposes the construction of 34,000 square feet of 30-foot-high buildings (17,000 sq. ft. on each of two stories) on the NW corner of their property. It will dwarf the All Saints Church, a 120 year-old community landmark, and block scenic mountain views from their property. Their proposal does not mesh with our well-thought-out Community Plan, which stipulates that commercial additions be limited to “16 feet above grade, respect the character and scale of surrounding residential neighborhoods, have minimal visibility from the street, and be consistent with the existing historic Cottage Type Hotel design of Montecito.” 

Nearly all the letter writers who have sent their opinions do not live in our neighborhood, or are part-time vacation-home owners. Those of you who live near Cold Spring School, in Ennisbrook, up by the SY Ranch, over on Sheffield – you really don’t have any skin in the game – except for the occasional meal or cocktail by the sea. You folks won’t have to live through the construction, the dirt, 2,000 dump truck trips, you won’t have strangers parked in your street-side parking, you won’t have dozens of UPS, Amazon, and Fed Ex vans blocking your intersections. Caruso Affiliates has recruited you, comped you wine and cheese social hours, given you little signs to wave like at a high-school election campaign. You are rejecting what has made Montecito valuable in the first place: our character, our residential and country-like cachet, and our scenery. 

This is not about how Caruso Affiliates came here, leveled, and rebuilt the old Miramar, and turned it into a nice, tony resort. This is not about how they have events there that people attend – this is just what many resort hotels do. It’s not about Santa appearing, or the Easter Bunny hopping in. They are good at marketing their hotel. They have done those things to make money. And I credit them for their success… in the hotel business. This is what their CUP is about. But we don’t want their luxury mall business here, so their guests can have an LA-like shopping experience! This is about the Rosewood’s efforts to make more money from their customers, by using the cachet of Montecito’s name, the Montecito Brand. This particular project threatens to disrupt the very essence of our part of Montecito and compromise the tranquility we hold dear.

Part of the problem is that this is being foisted on us by, and for the benefit of, people outside our community. Rosewood hotels co-manage the Miramar with Caruso Affiliates. Rosewood hotel group is a subsidiary of a $70+ billion Chinese conglomerate headquartered in the PRC. All of the mall development staff comes from Brentwood, Thousand Oaks, Manhattan Beach, and Los Angeles. The architects are from Boston. The builders are from L.A. The stores are mostly international franchises, none local. And the 24 stores of shopping are designed for out-of-towners who pop in here for a couple of days, then leave. Perhaps only a couple of Montecitans will stop by… to marvel at a $700 pair of jeans, $5,000 purses, or a $300 T-shirt. But shall we sell our souls and ruin our tranquil sea-side community for a slightly more convenient $7 cup of coffee, or a Hermès scarf?

Many people have swallowed the argument that Rosewood Miramar needs the mall, to help pay for the affordable employee housing. They don’t. Caruso just refinanced a $450 million loan on its Glendale Americana Gallery. Rick Caruso just spent $104 million on a failed campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles. The employee dorm will probably be built for $250-300 per sq.ft., or $5-8 million, total. And the “good citizen” strategy they paint of themselves, where they “are taking no government subsidies to build the housing” is a fallacy – NO private for-profit businesses are eligible for grants or subsidies when it comes to “mixed use” projects. Only NON-profit organizations. But Caruso IS eligible for the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit after completion, as well as depreciation and other business write-offs. And remember, the workers will have to pay RENT to live there. I, too, am in favor of affordable housing for those employees, but once again, it is not as simple a story as Caruso’s Representatives would have you believe. But that explanation is for another day.

Regarding the viewpoint that they are “good neighbors,” and they have listened, the Caruso crew again has exaggerated this. They had a pre-cooked idea of what they wanted to build, and how they would frame it to the public as being for the benefit of their workers. The poor workers have been turned into Human Shields to deflect criticism of their avaricious plan. Their various “presentations” were just that; what they already had in mind. The notes given to them at their first MBAR meeting last October 19 negate the notion that they “listened” and took our “suggestions.” It was THOSE suggestions that were incorporated by the development staff and, I’m afraid, very little the surrounding neighbors suggested. (See MBAR minutes, unapproved minutes updated Oct. 25, 2023. Page 4) And would your “good neighbor” plan to build his 30-foot-high edifice right ON your property line, blocking your view and privacy, hemming you in? This is their proposal now. 

Cliff Ghersen,
Neighbor of the Miramar since 1972

Nothing but Success for Caruso

I wish the Caruso team nothing but success as they move through the approval process to bring affordable workforce housing to Montecito for Miramar employees.

As many others have observed, Montecito’s housing market here is far out of reach for many service workers who are the backbone of our economy. It’s wonderful that this plan would provide an opportunity for these individuals to live in the same neighborhood where they work – which I believe will foster a stronger sense of community for all of us.

I also credit the Caruso team for being responsive and informative throughout this process. Based on their track record from the beginning, I know they will create something beautiful and fitting for our community.

Jonathan Werner


This is a reply to the article by Jeffrey Harding in the April 18-25, 2024 issue of the Montecito Journal entitled “Let’s Not Bring Back Manufacturing Jobs to America.”

It is perplexing to me how anyone in this country, especially a well-educated person, can think that the economy is the only thing to consider in bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. Whatever the cost, we should never allow our sworn enemies to have a chokehold on our needs. One could argue that these are not our enemies we are relying on for the manufactured goods, but that requires not believing their stated goals of world domination and destruction of our way of life in America, as well as them killing millions of people to perpetuate their form of government. However, to not even bring up this point and to argue on purely economical grounds that we should not bring the manufacturing back home, is truly burying one’s head in the sand. It’s not about the money. It’s also not about political power. It is about our very survival as a country in a world with many countries which openly call for our demise. We need to be self-sufficient in a world with adversaries.

Sincerely, John McAfee, Lompoc, CA


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