Montecito Is Leading the Way
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 26, 2021

Montecito always was a place of talent, care, resources, and community. There are a lot of smart, accomplished people making this beautiful place their home. It has also suffered its share of disaster, with the biggest fire in California history at the time — the Thomas Fire in December 2017. That fire has now dropped […]

Remembering Robertson “Bob” Short
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 12, 2021

The Montecito community sadly lost one of its greatest Benevolent Godfathers (and there are a few running around here) in Bob Short. A force to be reckoned with, Bob left a great legacy for Montecito. You may not have known him – or known him well – so we want to take a moment and […]

Bob Short: A Community Icon
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 5, 2021

Bob Short, an icon and pillar of the Montecito community, passed this week. While we all adjust to the news, we will be visiting with his friends and family in the coming days to do a much longer piece on his remarkable life and significant contributions to Montecito next week. But, for now, please know […]

California Enacts Legislation to End Single Family Zoning
By Sharon Byrne   |   September 28, 2021

Canada is holding Parliamentary elections, and the fate of President Trudeau will be decided. Trudeau called the election to capitalize on the liberal government’s handling of the pandemic. But the big issue Canadians are upset about is housing. Trudeau pledged to ban foreign investment in Canadian homes for two years and end the process of […]

Fire Smoke Drifting In; Housing Bills Facing Opposition
By Sharon Byrne   |   August 31, 2021

In the past few weeks, you may have noticed a smoke smell in the air and greyer skies. That’s wildfire smoke drift coming into the area. If you watch the Purple Air site (purpleair.com), you can zoom in or out to monitor air quality conditions in our area and across the state. Our Air Pollution […]

Housing Bills Facing Serious Heat
By Sharon Byrne   |   August 19, 2021

Turning a corner is both a huge endeavor, and a welcome relief. We may have turned the corner on the dreaded Senate Bills 9 and 10. A little recap: The bills have seen a third and fourth time, respectively, through the legislature. Former Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson single-handedly torpedoed SB-10’s predecessor, put forth by San Francisco […]

The Montecito Association: 73 Years Old, Still Fighting Tirelessly, and Standing with YOU
By Sharon Byrne   |   August 12, 2021

I came to the Montecito Association in September of 2018, brought over from the Coast Village Association by then-president Charlene Nagel. The Montecito community was hard hit by the first giga-fire in California – Thomas — and resultant Debris Flow. I had disaster recovery experience, from finding my missing parents in the aftermath of Hurricane […]

Worried About Drought? Wells? We Are Too. Come To Our Next Board Meeting.
By Sharon Byrne   |   August 12, 2021

If you’re new to Montecito and California, you’ll want to pay extra attention right now. Wildfires are burning presently in Greece, Italy, Turkey, British Columbia, and of course, here in California. The Dixie Fire has now burned 249,000 acres. It ranks No. 11, as of today, in largest California wildfires in history. The Thomas Fire, […]

Volatility in Homeowners Insurance Market Continues Amid Another Unprecedented Fire Season
By Sharon Byrne   |   August 5, 2021

Rate hikes, non-renewals, and cancellations of homeowners insurance have been hot topics for the past three years, and Montecito’s issues on this front trend with problems statewide.  Here’s a quick recap: 2019 March: Montecito homeowners get notices of non-renewal. They struggle to find replacement policies, with price shocks — up to 10 times what they […]

Here We Go Again? Indoor Masking Recommended as COVID Variants Flourish
By Sharon Byrne   |   July 29, 2021

On July 19, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued guidance recommending folks wear masks while indoors, whether vaccinated or not. This isn’t a surprise, given what has been happening with the Delta variant, which includes: •Significant uptick in cases in Israel, the UK, Los Angeles, and now the Bay Area. •Israel resumed mandated […]

COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted Tuesday, but Masking Will Be Around for A While
By Sharon Byrne   |   June 24, 2021

Tuesday marked 453 days since Governor Newsom issued the first stay-at-home order for California. It also acted as a Reopening Day, of sorts, with all tiered systems of restrictions lifted for California. Santa Barbara County barely squeaked into the yellow tier one week ago. Now all the tiers are gone. What does reopening and lifting […]

Fourth of July Parade is Happening!
By Sharon Byrne   |   June 17, 2021

You asked, and we’re delivering. A crew of dedicated Montecitans is busily pulling together a Fourth of July Parade. We’re sensitive to our emerging-from-the-pandemic status, and to the President’s pledge that all Americans will be able to celebrate with your families.  We plan to keep everyone safe, welcoming you to be with your family at […]

Many Priorities, One Team — US!
By Sharon Byrne   |   June 3, 2021

Last week, we helped three Santa Barbara City Councilmembers host a very important community conversation on the California Housing Legislation with our state legislators Senator Monique Limón and Assemblymember Steve Bennett. You know we’ve been working on this closely with our former State Senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson. You can watch the Town Hall at our website: […]

Tackling Homelessness is Hard, Emotionally Exhausting Work
By Sharon Byrne   |   May 27, 2021

When we started the Hands Across Montecito project late last year, we counted 31 individuals living unsheltered along our railroad tracks and on beaches. We took an approach now touted by Bakersfield: work cases individually, on a by-name basis. Each person’s needs are different, so you have to find the solution that works for them. […]

The Bear is Back. Time for Montecito to Get Serious About Co-Existence — or Euthanasia.
By Sharon Byrne   |   May 20, 2021

Our autumn bear has made a roaring spring appearance. Sheriffs saw him on Romero Canyon Road at the end of April. Neighbors reported the bear hit chicken coops in the Oak Grove area at the beginning of May, where he also dined on guinea pigs. He hit our board member Penny Bianchi’s place at East […]

Big Problems Call for Big Solutions
By Sharon Byrne   |   May 13, 2021

High fire season in Santa Barbara County started on May 3, with California coming off a record-setting year. According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council (SBCFSC), a total of 9,639 fires burned some 4.4 million acres of land, making 2020 the largest wildfire season recorded in the state’s modern history. The 2021 fire […]

Special-Interest Groups Negatively Impacting Single-Family Neighborhoods and Affordable Housing
By Sharon Byrne   |   April 29, 2021

We attended the Senate Housing Committee last week to provide input on two key bills: Senate Bills 9 and 765.  Our unexpected gain: insight into who’s calling the shots at the state. Hint: it’s not you.  Senator Toni Atkins (San Diego) introduced the revised SB-9. It will allow four units on a single-family lot, newly […]

Pack ‘em and Stack ‘em Housing in Montecito? Act Now Before It’s Too Late!
By Sharon Byrne   |   April 15, 2021

I visited a project on Hill Road this week after receiving complaints from neighbors. As soon as I saw it, my heart sank. This is a second story ADU (accessory dwelling unit) that will decimate views and is built right to the edge of the driveway easement. Neighbors report it was piecemealed in permitting, so […]

A Compassionate Partnership: Hands Across Montecito, Sheriff’s Office are Quite the Tandem
By Sharon Byrne   |   April 1, 2021

Last Friday, Jane Olson, one of the founding members of our Hands Across Montecito homeless outreach project, happened to be out walking near Hammond’s Meadow and encountered a very thin woman screaming at the top of her lungs and disrobing.  We had met this woman before, during the homeless point-in-time count at East Beach in […]

Updates on Housing Bills
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 26, 2021

We attended the Senate Housing Committee hearing on March 18 and advocated for Montecito on the following bills: •SB15, Sen. Anthony Portantino: This bill allows local cities to replace sales tax lost from closure of big box stores and rezone for affordable housing. Sen. Scott Wiener, who chairs the committee, and is putting forth the […]

Attention California Legislators: Stand with Your Community!
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 25, 2021

There are two particularly bad bills wending through the legislature, proposed by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (Senate District 39, San Diego) and Scott Wiener (Senate District 11, San Francisco). They are determined to fulfill Governor Newsom’s pledge to build 3.5 million units of housing in California. Prior attempts that have failed to date: –Wiener’s […]

A Story of Helping Hands and Hope
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 18, 2021

In 2020, the Montecito community witnessed a growing population of unsheltered individuals in the area. Encampments mushroomed and became quite visible. Bicycle thefts were up as were incidents of trespassing on private property. I started visiting the encampments in Montecito with Luis Alvarado, a case manager from Homeless Outreach Services at Santa Barbara County’s Behavioral […]

Fixing Issues at Hot Springs Trail
By Sharon Byrne   |   March 4, 2021

If you live near the Hot Springs Trail: You are likely already well aware of the jammed up street parking and trail users overcrowding the area. A countywide Fire Chief’s Public Safety Task Force has looked at this, and multiple other issues, including homeless encampment fires. For the folks on Riven Rock and East Mountain […]

Senator Limón and Assemblymember Steve Bennett to address Montecito Association Annual Meeting
By Sharon Byrne   |   February 11, 2021

The Montecito Association will host our Annual Members Meeting next Tuesday, February 9 at 4 pm via Zoom. We say goodbye to departing directors Peter van Duinwyk and Dorinne Lee Johnson, and welcome our newly elected board directors. We also appoint our officers at this meeting. Last year, we hosted California state Senator Hannah- Beth […]

Vaccine Rollout Bumpy and Confusing
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 28, 2021

If you feel confused and uncertain about COVID-19 vaccinations, you’re in the majority. The rollout has been confusing and startling, at times. The federal government releases buckets of vaccine to states, based on population. States set their priorities, hopefully in line with what the CDC recommends, and then allocate doses to counties based on their […]

Love And Light In The Darkness: The Third Annual 1/9 Commemoration
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 21, 2021

Saturday night, many of us gathered electronically to commemorate the third anniversary of the Debris Flow that claimed 23 of our community members, destroyed hundreds of homes, and shook us to our core.  It’s a day we’ll never forget.  As with all major disasters, the entire community experienced a collective trauma: shock, loss, grief, and […]

1/9 Ceremony for Montecito: A Night of Remembrance, Solidarity, and Hope
By Sharon Byrne   |   January 14, 2021

As our community approaches the third anniversary of the 1/9 Thomas Fire Debris Flow, we find ourselves in the third consecutive disaster we’ve faced as a community, and this time it’s a global pandemic. This Saturday, we’d love to gather everyone, come together as a community, and remember those we lost in the early morning […]

A Great Montecito Neighbor is Making Stories Matter
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 31, 2020

Last Sunday, community godfather and Christmas Elf Dana Newquist organized the second Montecito-To-Unity toy and fundraising drive and caravan for delivery. A great group met up at the Upper Village in classic cars, ready to donate toys and funds for the second week in a row. Dana asked me to get up on the 1937 […]

When Your Neighbor is an Angel: Meet Adam McKaig of Adam’s Angels
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 24, 2020

Many of you are familiar with our Hands Across Montecito project – where Montecito neighbors are partnering as part of a Montecito Association initiative to help the unsheltered in our community find resources and housing. We have wonderful partnerships on this community-based and -supported effort, including our Sheriff’s and Montecito Fire departments and City Net […]

Holiday Cheer is Here in Montecito, Despite Pandemic Shutdown
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 17, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom’s shutdown order, in place for a minimum of three weeks, means no more dinners out for a while, coffees with friends, all of that. However, this is Montecito, a special, magical community of strong people that have been through a lot, with love in their hearts. This renders them fully capable of […]

The Christmas Tree Has Arrived
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 17, 2020

Hospice Santa Barbara has installed our Christmas tree in the Upper Village for the third year in a row, and Light Up A Life takes place December 16 at 6 pm. We will be well into Hanukkah, and closing in on the Winter Solstice on December 21, the longest night of the year. Light Up […]

Homelessness Update: Montecito Leading the Way
By Sharon Byrne   |   December 3, 2020

The Hands Across Montecito initiative got off to a great start this September. We did a census count with a terrific team of Montecito volunteers, our fire chiefs, sheriffs, and members of Behavioral Wellness, organized by City Net. We hiked all over Montecito, interviewing, and finding out more about who is living unsheltered here, and […]

Smarting the Average Bear
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 19, 2020

We learned that “Carlos the Bear,” as he’s been nicknamed by locals, has ranged from the San Carlos Ranch and Romero Canyon area through Ennisbrook trail down to Jameson. He’s looking for food, during hyperphagia, when bears try to put on weight for the winter. This behavior is expected to calm with cooler weather as […]

Transportation, the 101, and Bears, Oh My!
By Sharon Byrne   |   November 19, 2020

The Montecito Association Transportation Committee deals with all things roads, bike paths, and pedestrian walkways in Montecito. At our October meeting, we got an update on the Highway 101 project, including the reasons why the backup was so bad when the Sheffield segment started. The state switched the construction schedule from night to day due […]

Struggling with Homeowner’s Insurance?
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 29, 2020

Revelations From the California Insurance Commissioner’s Marathon Virtual Hearing The good news from the pandemic: the state has learned how to do Zoom. We no longer have to trek to Sacramento to work with state officials; we can now do it from our living rooms. Direct democracy in action! We met Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara last […]

Taking Our Utility Lines Underground
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 21, 2020

At the Montecito Association Land Use Committee, we decided to tackle undergrounding as a team. The Office of Assembly Member Monique Limón, representatives from the office of First District Supervisor Das Williams, Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, and Hidden Hills Councilmember Laura McCorkindale joined us. We have several brave neighbors attempting to underground their utilities […]

Neighborhood Pinch Points In the Pandemic
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 13, 2020

The pandemic has introduced a slew of new neighborhood issues that require a lot of work to untangle. We’re happy to step up for some of these, but many are outsider-induced. Most of these issues started up in late spring, near Memorial Day, when the lockdowns had eased, the weather got warmer, and people wanted […]

Hands Across Montecito Performs Census Count of Homeless
By Sharon Byrne   |   October 1, 2020

Monday morning at 6 am, a crowd of 30 gathered at a church in Santa Barbara’s Eastside to perform a homeless census count. This is part of the Hands Across Montecito Project, started by the Montecito Association in response to concerns of large encampments growing along the tracks, encounters on Coast Village, thefts, and fires. […]

The Multi-Jurisdictional Problem in Montecito – Hammond’s Trail
By Sharon Byrne   |   September 24, 2020

At the Montecito Association, we often work with neighbors on specific issues. Who is responsible for the tree dropping bowling ball-sized pinecones in the street? Who handles the trash at Highway 101 and Hot Springs Road? What do I do if my neighbor’s hedge becomes infested with rats? These types of questions often require calls […]

Congestion, Road Repairs, and Parking Issues?
By Sharon Byrne   |   September 10, 2020

We handle it all at the Montecito Association Transportation Committee No matter what your transportation concern is, chances are good that someone from the Montecito Association Transportation Committee is already working on it. We’ve put together an all-star lineup that meets over Zoom to work on the most pressing issues in this area: Chad Chase: […]