Local Observations

By Montecito Journal   |   July 9, 2024

I support both Russel Ruiz and Cliff Gherson’s thoughtful and on-point letters to the editor in opposition to the glitz shopping center about to be dropped from the Trojan horse of “affordable housing.” I’ve known both of these good fellows for probably 50 years as a resident and small business owner here in this wonderful community that, sigh, is going the way of the dodo bird. I feel their pain. I’m not anti-progress and change but we’re moving at warp speed towards all that we were not interested in as a rare, beautiful, multi-dimensional community; l’d call it the Rodeo Drive-edification blight. I long for the days of the Coast Village Road that had something for everyone. You know, essential services, good to great but non-Michelin star restaurants, and retail for almost everyone. Back in the day our non-ostentatious “one-percenters” were appreciative of things within reach of a community made up of the very wealthy, the well above average, and even the average; it was kinda, for a while, a marginally economically diverse town. A business owner, a fledgling doctor, a teaching pro, a schoolteacher and even a Vons checker could be here. No more. The Montecito of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s is now a quaint remembrance. It is still a wonderful place to live but increasingly, I, and I suspect others, find the clubs, the retail, and the services bizarrely expensive even for the very well-to-do. Even if you can afford some luxuries, for me, it just does not feel good. After 50 years here I often feel like a stranger, albeit a lucky one, in a strange place. Sadly, I have no answers, just observations.

Steve Ruggles

Back at the Raft

Return of the Swim Raft! We love it… 

The recent Miramar Swim Raft celebration made me feel like a kid again. With friends, food, sun, and plenty of splashing, it was the perfect way to welcome the summer. Growing up in Montecito the raft was a wonderful part of summer and a perfect place to enjoy friends and the beauty of our town. 

The swim raft tradition is over 100 years old in Montecito – it was first anchored into the beach off the Miramar Hotel in 1917. It’s a very joyful symbol of our community, and it says a lot that Mr. Caruso went to the effort (and expense) to work with the County to bring it back, for everyone to enjoy. It speaks volumes about Mr. Caruso, and how much they actually care about the Miramar and doing right by this community. It’s great to have them in our corner. What a pleasure it is to see the Miramar bringing so much joy to so many. Thank you!

David and Pam Peterson, Miramar Neighbors

Joshua Tree

Have you ever seen a star so bright
You’d think it might be Venus sparkling and twinkling 
Like a Diamond in the night?
Sometimes a woman is brighter than a star 
With a wicked pull of gravity
That won’t let you travel far
Andromeda and the Sisters 
Sirius and the Twins
Guide you through the heavens 
Exalt you from within
It is Venus Aphrodite now
Spinning through your head
The clearest voice like wedding bells 
What she wore and what she said.

by Henry J. Ohrtman

From Stella with Love

Dear Friends and Family of Stella Mare’s Bistro,

Stella Mare’s update… We are OPEN during road construction!!

The new roundabout on Cabrillo Street and Los Patos Way is open for regular traffic as well as the 101 freeway off ramp exit by the restaurant. Construction is not affecting traffic coming to or leaving the restaurant in any way.

We are OPEN, but sadly, we are forced to close at the end of this year. We were not offered a lease as part of the Los Patos Way new development by the new Los Patos Way landlord, Runyon Real Estate Group (hello@runyongroup.com).

We are OPEN until December 31st, 2024, and we are planning a big New Year’s Eve celebration!!

We have been in business for 29 years and were absolutely NOT planning on closing anytime soon. We are actually busier than ever! This has come as a shock to us and our dedicated staff – some of whom have been with us for over 29 years! To say we are devastated with the outcome does not even begin to describe how we feel. We are losing our wonderful Stella Staff and Family. At this point, we are considering all options including relocating to a new home. We will keep you updated.

Thank you to everyone for being so supportive. We are looking forward to many more dining experiences for lunch, brunch, dinner, and events. We are OPEN and looking forward to seeing you soon.

À bientôt…

The Stella Team

A Neighbor’s Support

As a close neighbor to the Miramar Hotel and a parent at All Saints Parish School, I am writing to express my support for Caruso’s proposed plan for the property.

The Miramar Hotel is a beautiful property that has graciously hosted numerous special events for our community. Caruso has thoughtfully made compromises to ensure the new additions blend seamlessly into the neighborhood, just as the Miramar does today. Additionally, the idea of a neighborhood café with convenient access for nearby residents would be cool. 

Caruso has proven to be a good neighbor and a strong supporter of All Saints, even before the hotel opened. Their door has always been open to dialogue with the community, and I am hopeful an agreement can be reached that benefits both sides.

Despite critics, many of us in the neighborhood welcome this plan. The opponents’ views do not represent all of us.  

K. Anderson


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