Saying Farewell to the National Guard, and Giving Thanks for Our Debris Basin
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 31, 2023

On Monday, the County held a press conference to thank the California Army National Guard, which has been deployed here since January 12 to clear the Randall Road Debris Basin. Darcel Elliott from Supervisor Das Williams’ office had let us know they were coming, and asked us if the Guard could use our office and […]

Montecito Community Emerges Strong from Major Test of 5th Anniversary Storm
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 17, 2023

The following was written after having to evacuate rapidly, with no warning, at 1 pm on January 9, 2023, from the lower Mission Creek area, where I live. Sunday night, it was a bucolic stream. It turned torrential a few hours later and turned my street into a swift river. For the past five years, […]

Please Join Us: 1/9 Remembrance
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 10, 2023

This coming Monday, January 9, marks the five-year anniversary of the Debris Flow in Montecito of 2018. We lost 23 community members in that disaster. Houses were obliterated, roads were covered in mud, and first responders – on active duty since the Thomas Fire broke out on December 4, 2017 – scrambled to evacuate people […]

The Montecito Holiday Magic Parade Rolls Saturday!
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 20, 2022

We hope you’re thinking about where to find a hot chocolate, pick up some last-minute gifts, and the best spot on the route to watch the Second Annual Montecito Holiday Magic Parade! It’s this Saturday, December 17, and there’s a lovely confluence of things happening. From 3-5 pm, some of our Montecito Village and Coast […]

Updates on the Housing Element
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 6, 2022

We’ve got a lot on our plate here at the Montecito Association, and we’re happy to tackle it. Two weeks ago, the County had a huge public meeting on the updated Housing Element required by the state of California’s Housing and Community Development. You’ve read in these pages of how we realized the threat of […]

Welcome to December! We’re very excited to announce our Second Annual Montecito Holiday Magic Parade December 17!
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 6, 2022

We’ll have the coolest classic cars, lit up to brighten the night sky (briefly). We’ll have dancers, singers, and so much fun! The route starts from the Upper Village, and heads down Hot Springs to Coast Village, and then back up Olive Mill to the end. We encourage you to support our local merchants and […]

We have 8,000 Reasons to Be Grateful in This Week of Giving Thanks
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 29, 2022

It’s the height of autumn now, with cold nights, falling leaves, pumpkins everywhere, and the most heartwarming of holidays this week. As we look back over this past year, we have a tremendous amount to be grateful for here in Montecito. Yes, the weather and scenery are lovely, and it’s fun to visit the villages […]

The Hands Helping Homelessness
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 22, 2022

You’ve read in these pages about Hands Across Montecito, a very successful homeless outreach and placement team of the Montecito Association, made up of Montecitans, Sheriffs, Montecito Fire, Behavioral Wellness, and City Net. Our first client, Andrew Verlikanje, really hates litter, so he picks it up. Andrew impressed Heal the Ocean when he wanted to […]

A Bee-autiful Day in the Montecito Neighborhood
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 15, 2022

Last Saturday, something amazing happened. The day was gorgeous and crisply cold. A deluge of caring Montecitans amassed in the Upper Village in front of Tecolote Book Shop. They chatted with neighbors, over coffee and pastries provided by Andrea Eltinge Newquist and Jacqueline Duran. They donned neon yellow safety vests, picked up green trash pick-up […]

United Nations Association of Santa Barbara Awards 2022 Peace Prize to ShelterBox USA
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 1, 2022

On Monday, October 24, International United Nations Day, a huge crowd descended on Pascucci on State Street for the awarding of the 6th Annual United Nations Association (UNA) Santa Barbara Peace Prize. Created in 2017 by the United Nations of Santa Barbara, the Prize is awarded to individuals or organizations to recognize their work in […]

Women Rising: Huge Turnout for First Meeting of SB Women’s Health Collective
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 25, 2022

Dr. Katrina Mitchell penned an op-ed after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, calling for prioritizing and coordinating a full spectrum of women’s health care needs, from puberty to post-menopause. She struck a massive chord with women experiencing women’s health care in Santa Barbara, or lack thereof, and formed a Women’s Health […]

Beautification Day: When Montecito Takes to the Streets, With Love
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 18, 2022

The days are getting shorter and cooler. Fog is drifting in, and it feels like spooky season is rolling in with it. Everyone is craving pumpkin spice, and dreams of the Great Pumpkin lighting up Halloween steal into our children’s blissful sleep.  All of this can only mean one thing… Yes, it’s time for Beautification […]

Things We Learned at the State’s Emergency Preparedness Meeting
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 11, 2022

We’ve worked with California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on a number of fronts: homeowner’s insurance (and the lack of it in California), claims, legislation, and preparedness. Last week, he hosted quite the townhall on emergency preparedness, as part of the partnership the Department of Insurance has with the Governor’s emergency response and readiness agencies. We’ve […]

The Montecito Association Wants YOU Do you care about your Montecito village community? We’d love to have you on our team!
By Sharon Byrne   |   September 20, 2022

Whether you’re new to Montecito, or have been here for decades, you probably adore the bucolic scenery, laid-back vibe, and rural feel here.  Well, that didn’t just happen all by itself. A heck of a lot of people who cared deeply spent decades shaping the community we experience in Montecito today. The Montecito Association was, […]

License Plate Readers Coming to Montecito
By Sharon Byrne   |   September 13, 2022

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office will install automated license plate readers to aid in law enforcement investigations as part of a one-year trial. The trial is part of the National Policing Institute’s Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) study. ALPRs are helpful in crimes where a vehicle was used.  The purpose of the study is […]

California Legislature 2022 Watch: Some good bills, and some not so good
By Sharon Byrne   |   August 23, 2022

As we head into the close of the 2022 California Legislative session, bills are passing that could help our community, and some that could hurt it. Here’s a round-up of the bills we’re watching: Conversion of commercial zones to housing. Senate Bill 6; Caballero. This bill allows a housing development project on a parcel that […]

Coming to Coast Village Road: A More Welcoming Look and Feel, and FUN!
By Sharon Byrne   |   August 9, 2022

Things are looking up on Coast Village Road. Not that the area was faring poorly, by any means, but merchants will get a new boost with a newly formed and approved Community Business Improvement District (CBID). This has been in the works for a couple of years, the brainchild of former Coast Village Association President […]

Wildfire Risks Heating Up Homeowners Insurance Market
By Sharon Byrne   |   July 26, 2022

Last week was a big week for Montecito and California in homeowners insurance. At our Board Meeting, we hosted the California Department of Insurance and agents from Brown & Brown and Bridgepoint, who are finding policies for Montecitans. A Little Background After the Thomas Fire of December 2017, and the deadly Debris Flow, an emergency […]

Thank You for the Most Amazing Village 4th Ever!
By Sharon Byrne   |   July 12, 2022

If you came out and watched the Village 4th motorcade roll by, you know it was a smash hit. From the flyover of vintage planes that kicked it off, to a slew of historic autos in the Loudest, Proudest motorcade, all festooned with July 4th decorations, our terrific Grand Marshall Diane Pannkuk, the Sheriff’s Paddy […]

Has the County Lost Its Mind?
By Sharon Byrne   |   July 5, 2022

We work a lot with the county, from sheriffs to Public Works to Flood Control to Zoning. Normally, the relationship is pretty good. The county is usually responsive, and our community benefits from working closely with our government.  But our county is doing something we don’t understand at all. Apparently, neither do the judges. You’ve […]

Village 4th Brings Festive Fun, But Also Honors Our Villagers
By Sharon Byrne   |   June 28, 2022

The Village 4th is coming! Yes, on July 4th, the Montecito community will be treated to the third annual Rolling Motorcade Parade. Entries are reflective of the community, so you’ll see the Montecito Community Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, Adam’s Angels, MERRAG, Montecito Fire, our sheriffs including Sheriff Brown, CHP, Bucket Brigade, and Friends of […]

Dignity Moves Opens 32 “Tiny Homes” in Santa Barbara
By Sharon Byrne   |   June 21, 2022

Hands Across Montecito co-founder Kathryn Washburn got a call from Dignity Moves a couple of weeks ago, asking if she’d support the new tiny homes in downtown Santa Barbara. As a strong member on the Hands Across Montecito team that has achieved great results in helping people leave homelessness, Kath wasn’t sure about this. She […]

Drought Compels Changes for Well Permits
By Sharon Byrne   |   May 31, 2022

Things are heating up on the drought front in California. In July 2021, Governor Newsom issued a drought emergency and asked for voluntary water use reductions of 15%. It didn’t happen. At the end of March 2022, Newsom issued an executive order calling on local water agencies to escalate their response to the ongoing drought.  […]

Summer is Coming: Some (Burning) Issues for Montecito Just Got Hotter 
By Sharon Byrne   |   May 24, 2022

Bucolic scenery, coastal oaks, mountains, and ocean. Montecito is lovely, and a terrific community, but we have issues here. If you recently moved in, here’s where you can get resources: Fire Danger – There have been multiple fires in the past few weeks all over the county, well ahead of the official fire season. Of […]

Living in Unprecedented Times: Water in Montecito
By Sharon Byrne   |   May 10, 2022

Last week, the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles ordered outdoor water usage to be restricted to one day per week, starting June 1. This order affects six million people in Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando, San Bernardino, and southern Ventura County. All outdoor watering in these areas could be banned by September […]

When a Beloved Natural Site Suffers From Over-Use: The Montecito Hot Springs Trail
By Sharon Byrne   |   May 3, 2022

A lawsuit has been filed against the County to halt them from making a parking lot out of Mountain Drive for the Hot Springs Trail. Neighbors are understandably upset. Stakes were driven deep into their yards in October, showing the County’s right-of-way. The implication: they could seize all of it for trailhead parking.  The Hot […]

Who Can Fix California’s Homeowners Insurance Woes? Insurance Commissioner Race Heats Up
By Sharon Byrne   |   April 26, 2022

Things are getting hotter regarding California homeowners insurance, and threat of wildfire is just one factor. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is up for reelection this year and at least one candidate is laying out a viable case to replace him.  Last week, former California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (2007-2011) ran an op-ed in the Los […]

State Audit Finds Problems with State’s Mandated Housing Numbers
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 29, 2022

On March 17, 2022, the California State Auditor released a very important report on California’s Housing and Community Development Department’s (HCD) Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA). The audit was assertively requested by the California Alliance of Local Elected (CALE) officials, a strongly activist group of councilmembers from across the state. CALE asserts that California’s Regional […]

It’s the 2022 California Legislative Session, and They’re Churning Out More Housing Bills
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 22, 2022

Here they come! If you feel a little confused about what the state might be up to re housing, here’s a handy primer: 1. California officials said the state is 3.5 million units short of housing, a statistic used relentlessly to drive Senate Bills 9 and 10 last year, whose primary mission was to end […]

Upcoming Road Closures
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 17, 2022

After a water main break this Tuesday, March 15, in the Bike Lane of North Jameson Lane at Loureyro Road, there was a lane closure set up at this location for most of the day. Here are some of the other road closures to be aware of:  Wednesday to Friday, March 16-18; 600 – 663 […]

Pursuing Sound Walls
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 15, 2022

On February 3, we learned in a public meeting the Montecito segment of the 101 project would no longer have sound walls. The reason was hydraulic modeling that showed significant flood water rise in a major weather event. This was a major shock to the community. We’ve been looking at the project in our Land […]

New Regulations to Reward Fire Risk Reduction
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 15, 2022

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announces new regulations to improve wildfire safety and drive down cost of insurance. Under the proposed regulations, which could be in effect by this summer, insurance companies would be required to factor consumers’ and businesses’ wildfire safety actions into their pricing of residential and commercial coverage. The new regulations also […]

A Year Later: Hands Across Montecito The Model That Makes the Difference in Homelessness
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 8, 2022

In the spring of 2020, as the pandemic unfolded, Montecito neighbors started noticing a significant uptick in homeless individuals on Coast Village Road, traveling along the tracks, and encampments began mushrooming along the freeway. I contacted Luis Alvarado from Santa Barbara County’s Behavioral Wellness Homeless Outreach Team, and we started walking the tracks and outreaching. […]

‘Our Neighborhood Voices’ Lost For Now, As State Housing Machine Unleashes On Communities
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 1, 2022

For those following this topic and Senate Bills 9 and 10, they took effect on January 1. These bills upzone communities by allowing four to 10 units on a single-family residential lot. Just pull your permit and go. Pushed by a cabal of pro-development forces, California embraced densification and “build, baby, build.” The intent was […]

California’s Housing Fight Can Give You Whiplash
By Sharon Byrne   |   February 8, 2022

Here’s the conversation between California cities and the state government: California (Housing and Community Development Dept. – HCD): Hey cities, you need to build more housing. We’re short. Cities: Oh, um, hey, we don’t actually build housing. Developers do that. You guys stuck CEQA on us, code regulations, and housing elements. Where do we build, […]

Rumors and Actual News
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 25, 2022

A few persistent rumors have spread through the Montecito community, thus proving the old adage that a lie can get halfway round the world before the truth can even get its boots on. Here are a couple that we’ve thoroughly debunked: – Rick Caruso is buying the Upper Village and plans to turn it into […]

‘Four Years Later, We Remember’
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 18, 2022

On January 9, a community-building memorial was held across Montecito to remember and honor the victims and survivors of the 1/9 Debris Flow. A partnership between the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, Montecito Association, Montecito Fire Protection District, and Westmont organized the event — and it followed the template the organizations created in 2021, for safety […]

Giving Thanks to Our Wonderful Community
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 30, 2021

We just want to take this opportunity to tell you how grateful we are for you, our beloved community, for all the ways you’ve inspired us with your generosity, come through in spades for your community, been through the worst of times and stood so strong, and made this just one of the finest places […]

Get Ready for the First Annual Montecito Magical Nights Holiday Parade
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 23, 2021

Yes, we’re going to do it: a nighttime holiday motor parade through Montecito on Saturday, December 4 at 5:30 pm. It’s been a tough few years for Montecito, and we could all use more light, love, and magic in our lives, particularly as we head into the time of year at the Winter Solstice when […]

Montecito’s Beautification Day: A Huge Win for Our Community
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 16, 2021

Last Saturday, something amazing happened in Montecito. A community got on its feet and spread care and love into the world. It was Beautification Day — and the impact was powerful.  The day unfolded with two ensemble casts that had never rehearsed together taking on two big projects. The first team consisted of Montecito Fire, […]