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.

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 […]

The Upper Village of Montecito: Part II
By Bob Hazard   |   February 8, 2018

While retailers across the country enjoyed a very Merry Christmas, retail in Montecito struggled. From hair salons to gift shops to restaurants, business owners watched helplessly as fire and ash led to mandatory evacuations, intolerable air quality and the absence of holiday tourists, all of which put a damper on holiday parties and decimated local […]

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 […]

Coming Together to Rebuild
By Bob Hazard   |   February 1, 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 that engulfed our small village, 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 […]

Fire and Flood, Mud and Debris
By Bob Hazard   |   January 18, 2018

The catastrophic fire and flood of 2017-18 has changed the face of a number of parts of Montecito for years to come. The mud and debris flow that came down the mountains behind us tossed cars around like Tinker toys and ripped homes off their foundations, filling the landscape with toxic mud and mold. Many […]

The Day We Nearly Lost Montecito
By Bob Hazard   |   January 11, 2018

(photos courtesy MFPD chief Chip Hickman) Most in Montecito have no idea how close we came to community decimation two weeks before Christmas. At 6 am Saturday, December 16, 2017, sundowner winds of 30 mph, gusting up to 60 mph, drove the Thomas wildfire, the largest in California history, past the firefighter containment lines on […]

The Upper Village of Montecito: Part I
By Bob Hazard   |   December 7, 2017

Montecito is small in size but famous for its natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle. Whether you hike the Montecito trails, stroll Butterfly Beach, order a cup of coffee or a snack – the community character remains the same – unhurried, laid-back, charming, uniquely engaged, small-town friendly service, and locally owned businesses. The shops and businesses […]

California Screaming
By Bob Hazard   |   November 30, 2017

After a weekend of Thanksgiving gobbling and gorging, most of us are more interested in waist cuts than tax cuts, but the Senate is about to make its move on tax reform… and Californians are nervous. Voter registration in the State of California runs 44% Democrat versus 29% Republican; California is definitely a dark-blue state, […]

The Future of Coast Village Road, Part 2
By Bob Hazard   |   November 9, 2017

The truly “endangered species” in America is neither the salt marsh harvest mouse nor the Channel Island fox. Rather, it is the ominous disappearance of small, locally owned businesses – particularly in retail — and the erosion of their positive impact on the character of local communities. The Retail Meltdown In the last few years, […]

Search for Excellence (Part 2)
By Bob Hazard   |   June 27, 0209

What is needed to make Montecito better?Last week my wife and I had lunch with our Congressman and former 1st District Supervisor, Salud Carbajal. Although we are on different sides of the political spectrum, Salud gets my vote and my financial support because of his sincere commitment to the Montecito community, his dedication to constituent […]