Author spotlight: Bob Hazard

Robert C. Hazard, Jr. is the retired former chairman of Creative Hotel Associates and Choice Hotels International. During Bob’s tenure at Choice, the system grew to one of the world’s largest franchise lodging chains in the world. Before joining Choice, Bob served as chief executive officer of Best Western International for seven years. A cum laude graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, he served in the U.S. Air Force, and later IBM and American Express. Father of five grown children and grandfather of nine, Bob and his wife Victoria currently reside in Montecito, California.

The Water Wells of Montecito
By Bob Hazard   |   March 28, 2019

After a wet November, a damp December, and a soggy January, February, and March, the good news is that Montecito water bills have never been lower. Seventeen storms have dropped 32 inches of water drenching our community. The heavy downpours in Montecito have temporarily eliminated our “extreme drought” designation but have raised a number of […]

A Night at the Rosewood
By Bob Hazard   |   March 14, 2019

Owner-developer Rick Caruso has transformed a challenging 16-acre site, tucked between the 101 freeway and the single-track Union Pacific Railroad into an oasis of tranquility and taste. The infusion of $185 million in construction costs, plus land and site costs, helped convert the blue-roofed, mid-market and rundown old Miramar into the dazzling five-star Rosewood Miramar […]

Looking for Water Solutions
By Bob Hazard   |   March 14, 2019

In this community, business-as-usual is no longer an option. Separate silos for water and sanitary decisions are as dated as hula hoops. Why? Water in all forms is one of our most fundamental resources. Increasingly, communities are realizing a need for districts to work together on water solutions that deliver more efficient use, integrated management […]

Time for a Montecito Renewal
By Bob Hazard   |   February 14, 2019

A succession of winter storms has dropped four to six inches of intense rainfall on Montecito, and so far, cleaned-out debris basins, combined with wider creek channels, have saved the day. Now is an ideal time to pause and reflect on how you as an individual can help to make the Montecito community a safer […]

Montecito Needs Your Help Now
By Bob Hazard   |   January 24, 2019

If you do nothing else this week, pull out your pen and write a check to the Partnership for Resilient Communities, or go to the website (partnershipsb.org) to make a tax-deductible donation through the Santa Barbara Foundation. Contributions can be as low as $10 or as high as $250,000. The future of Montecito may depend […]

The Impossible Made Possible
By Bob Hazard   |   January 10, 2019

While most of us in Montecito were making merry over the holiday season, former City of Santa Barbara Fire Chief, Pat McElroy, who is now Executive Director of the Partnership (Partnership for Resilient Communities), was pounding the halls of government, along with Montecito land use attorney Joe Cole, permitting guru Suzanne Elledge, and local government […]

The Great Straw War
By Bob Hazard   |   January 1, 2019

Last year, a three-year-old video went viral depicting a sea turtle with a plastic straw ensnared in its nose. The tortoise video recorded 30 million hits, setting off a moral panic as teachers all over the country paraded elementary schoolchildren in front of elected officials demanding a straw ban. Film footage of the fabled Pacific […]

All I Want for Christmas is a Wider 101
By Bob Hazard   |   December 27, 2018

The Highway 101 corridor between the Ventura County Line and Santa Barbara is by far the most heavily traveled roadway in Santa Barbara County. Traffic estimates are that by 2020, some 100,000 cars and trucks will pass through Montecito every day. Many of these re-route through local streets, primarily on either the North Jameson frontage […]

The Need for Forward Thinking on the 101
By Bob Hazard   |   December 20, 2018

To plan for the future, it is helpful to recall the past. Montecito’s relationship with the 101 highway dates back 92 years to 1927 when residents approached the State Division of Highways asking them to pave the two dirt lanes through Montecito. John Jameson led a crusade to design America’s first scenic parkway, using planted […]

Water for Christmas?
By Bob Hazard   |   December 13, 2018

California’s aging State Water System with its surface canals and pumps was designed to meet the needs of 25 million California farmers and urban users. Today, it struggles to provide sustainable water for 40 million current state residents. Fortunately, technology – at a price – can help solve the problem, especially for coastal communities, if […]

Flood and Mud Preparedness: 2019
By Bob Hazard   |   December 6, 2018

While keeping a wary eye on the weather this winter, residents of Montecito are watching their rainfall charts, fearful of a repeat of heavy storms and mandatory evacuation notices. Seared in our minds are personal memories of the 1/9 disaster when a massive debris flow destroyed or damaged 470 homes in Montecito, and brutally took […]

Pilgrim’s Progress
By Bob Hazard   |   November 29, 2018

Nearly 400 years ago on August 5, 1620, two wooden sailing ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell, set off from England headed for the New World. Unfortunately, the Speedwell leaked at 300 miles out, forcing both ships to turn back to England. The Speedwell’s passengers were rapidly transferred to the already overcrowded Mayflower, which finally […]

California Blues
By Bob Hazard   |   November 22, 2018

With the Democratic sweep in the November 2018 statewide elections, the Republican Party in California continues its descent into oblivion. The GOP won no statewide office. Democrats now have a death grip on California’s two U.S. Senate seats, all but eight of the 53 California U.S. House seats and a supermajority in Sacramento in the […]

Montecito Election Results
By Bob Hazard   |   November 15, 2018

No need for us to reiterate the national, statewide, and countywide election results. If you are a Democrat, you are ecstatic; if you are a Republican, not so much. It was, however, a good day for supporters of Montecito’s Water Security Team, all five of whom were elected to their respective boards: Cori Hayman, Brian […]

A Fascinating Future
By Bob Hazard   |   November 8, 2018

The best way to predict the future is to watch those who are working hard to create it. It is fascinating to reflect on how fast the world is changing. The Auto Industry Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Alphabet Inc’s Waymo has become the first company to receive a permit from the […]

Time for a Change
By Bob Hazard   |   November 1, 2018

Montecito voters will have a rare opportunity to elect two of five Montecito Sanitary District (MSD) Board members this year in a classic contest between appointed incumbents who have already held their board seats for up to 12 years and an exceptionally competent team of challengers who offer new ideas and a solid plan for […]

Election 2018: Sanitary District Voters Have a Choice
By Bob Hazard   |   October 4, 2018

On November 6, Montecito voters will go to the polls. This year’s ballot contains an extreme rarity: a contested election for the Montecito Sanitary District (MSD) Board of Directors. For the first time in anyone’s memory, voters will choose among four different candidates running for two MSD seats. Why is this unusual? Because since 2000, […]

Montecito Falling Behind on Recycled Water
By Bob Hazard   |   August 30, 2018

Recycling of treated wastewater is environmentally responsible and can create a significant new water supply for both landscaping water (sometimes referred to as non-potable or “purple pipe” water) by surface spreading, or even better, indirect potable reuse (IPR) by injecting the purified water into local groundwater basins as recharge water for later withdrawal as a […]

Desalination Celebrates One-Year Anniversary
By Bob Hazard   |   August 23, 2018

Santa Barbara mayor Cathy Murillo was able to take a well-deserved bow last week as she and Josh Haggmark, City Water Resources manager; Cathy Taylor, Water Systems manager; Randy Rowse and other civic leaders celebrated the one-year anniversary of the reopening of the City’s Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant. All hailed the addition of desalinated […]

Keeping and Storing Montecito Water
By Bob Hazard   |   August 16, 2018

(Between now and Tuesday, November 6 [election day], members of the water and sanitary district communities, and other interested parties, will present various opinions on the subject of water and waste management. The views expressed under the imprimatur of this column – whether they are by candidates for the water or sanitary boards of directors […]

Anatomy of a Practical Problem Solver
By Bob Hazard   |   August 9, 2018

Montecito is blessed with an extraordinary collection of doers, believers, thinkers, and dreamers. While it takes contributions from all four types to craft a community recovery program, it is the local “doers” who earn my admiration because they seize the day to take ownership of problems rather than wait for others to act. Here is […]

The Real Montecito Marketplace
By Bob Hazard   |   August 2, 2018

According to broker Wendy Gragg, president of Montecito’s Distinctive Real Estate, many high-end buyers appear to be holding back from purchasing in Montecito, at least for the time being. Gragg sees the mid-year Montecito real estate market as slowly shifting from a seller’s market toward a buyer’s market. As more sellers list their homes, buyers […]

Let’s Block the Rocks… Now
By Bob Hazard   |   July 26, 2018

The Montecito community faces a difficult 2018-2019 winter season. If we get too little rain, we will return to drought worries; too much rain and Montecito residents face evacuation and the possibility of additional mud and rock flows. Of the two perils – severe drought versus debris flow – the more pressing danger is the […]

Freedom Facts and Fictions
By Bob Hazard   |   July 5, 2018

Ask anyone why we celebrate the 4th of July holiday and the most frequent answer is that July 4 represents our nation’s birthday. This is only partially correct.  On July 2, 1776 (not July 4), members of the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, voted to declare independence from Great Britain for the 13 colonies. […]

Addressing the FEMA-Created Mess
By Bob Hazard   |   June 28, 2018

Last week, the SB County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted unanimously to adopt the FEMA Interim Flood Map in an effort to expedite and control the rebuilding process in Montecito. As chair of the BOS, supervisor Das Williams noted, “I can’t say I’m comfortable with the option of the Interim Flood Recovery map, but the […]

Securing Montecito’s Future
By Bob Hazard   |   June 7, 2018

Without a mayor and a town council that have both authority to set priorities and resources to fund selected programs, disaster recovery options are limited. Local efforts are confined to supporting the county government team and offering a host of volunteer services. The historic role, for example, of the Montecito Association (MA) has been “the […]

Re-Considering Home Rule for Montecito
By Bob Hazard   |   May 31, 2018

In 1991, the residents of Montecito engaged in a heated debate, turning down a vote for cityhood by fewer than 100 votes. Every 10 years or so, the debate over home rule rises again. Advocates believe that local knowledge of local needs allows communities that are self-governing to better plan their own future, to control […]

To Re-build or Not?
By Bob Hazard   |   May 24, 2018

Mark your calendars for June 11, 2018. That’s the expected date for the public release of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Recovery Maps for Montecito. The map release will mark a critical milepost in making the rebuilding decisions that will shape the future character of Montecito for the next 50 years.  FEMA Recovery […]

Rebuilding Montecito: A Focus on Partnership Solutions
By Bob Hazard   |   May 10, 2018

The Thomas Wildfire and the January 9 debris flow have presented the county with the most complex disaster recovery and preparedness scenarios in California history. The confluence of events leading to the twin disasters was unprecedented, the threat of a repeat disaster is still imminent, acceptable mitigation solutions are still amorphous, and their costs uncertain. […]

Saving the Future
By Bob Hazard   |   May 3, 2018

Last week, an overflow crowd turned out at the Granada Theatre for a community conversation titled “Drought, Fire and Flood: The New Normal” sponsored by the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, the Santa Barbara Museum of National History, the Santa Barbara Foundation, and the Community Environmental Council. Moderating this Town Hall event […]

The Need for Leadership
By Bob Hazard   |   April 26, 2018

In the four months between December 2017 and March 2018, Montecito was evacuated five times; 23 people lost their lives; 170 homes were destroyed and more than 350 others were severely damaged. We are currently a community under siege, trapped between a strong desire to rebuild and the uncomfortable realization that we are about to […]

Can Montecito Become Drought-Free?
By Bob Hazard   |   April 19, 2018

This town could use a little good news. It has been a little more than a year since we elected two new members to the Montecito Water District Board of Directors. Are we any closer to the goal of water security? Montecito Water District (MWD), its board, its management, and its employees have all been […]

A New and Better Vision
By Bob Hazard   |   April 12, 2018

Last month, in response to a public request, Montecito Association (MA) Land Use Committee chair Cori Hayman identified the “Top 10 Issues” facing Montecito. The goal was to focus on making the village better than it was before the twin disasters of the Thomas wildfire and the January 9 debris flow.  The Land Use Committee’s […]

Evacuation Planning
By Bob Hazard   |   April 5, 2018

As we roll into spring, most in Montecito feel a temporary sense of relief, anticipating that any rainstorm in April will not rise to the ½-inch-per-hour threshold needed to trigger another evacuation. Evidence is that the added protection from new wider, deeper, boulder-lined creek channels restored by the Army Corps of Engineers and County Flood […]

A Red-Flag Warning
By Bob Hazard   |   March 29, 2018

As Montecito residents recover from their fifth mandatory evacuation since the start of the Thomas Wildfire, there is a growing frustration that the future fate of Montecito will not be resolved by a “Montecito Strong” community visioning plan of our own making, but by external forces outside this community’s span of control. Fifteen weeks have […]

Building Bridges
By Bob Hazard   |   March 15, 2018

As Montecito residents struggle to absorb the unwelcome financial burden of removing public mud and debris that flowed onto private property, it has become more important than ever to rebuild our community and return it to normalcy in the shortest possible timeframe with generous assistance from the County and FEMA. A heartwarming example of rallying […]

The Outlook for Property Values in Montecito
By Bob Hazard   |   March 1, 2018

For most residents of Montecito, a large portion of their investment portfolio and net worth is tied up in the value of their home. What will be the long- and short-term impact of the twin tragedies of the Thomas Fire – the largest in California history – and the destructive 1/9 debris flow on real […]

Rising from the Mud
By Bob Hazard   |   February 22, 2018

Montecito’s cleanup effort is well underway with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers having cleared most of the creeks and debris basins. But a largely unanswerable question surrounds the massive mountain of mud still piled on private property: what to do with the stuff. This is not just an individual homeowner problem; it is a […]

Rebuilding Montecito
By Bob Hazard   |   February 14, 2018

One of the unexpected gifts of the twin tragedies of the Thomas Fire – the largest recorded wildfire in California’s history – and the subsequent Montecito mudslide, has been the outpouring of sympathy, compassion, and support from our neighbors in the City of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland, Goleta, the rest of Santa Barbara County, and […]

Helping Hands in Montecito
By Bob Hazard   |   February 8, 2018

It has been nearly a month since we were awakened in the middle of the night, without electrical power, to the drumbeat of a pounding rainstorm and the roar of a descending mountain of mud and boulders.  As is usual in a natural disaster, there were scenes of personal heroism from unnamed first responders and […]