Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours title=
The application includes photographs of Jeremy Lindaman — who in seven years has collected nearly $1 million in salary as the Bellosguardo Foundation's president, with little to show for it thus far — standing in various access points of the property. | Credit: Courtesy
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

The Bellosguardo Foundation has resubmitted its proposal to Santa Barbara officials for hosting tours of late Huguette Clark’s clifftop estate. The documents attached below offer the most detailed look yet at the seven-year-old nonprofit’s first steps toward opening the private grounds to the public and eventually transforming the dusty relic of turn-of-the-century opulence into a modern community center for the arts.

“By utilizing existing infrastructure with the addition of ADA ramps and restrooms the foundation can accommodate public access to the main house where it can experience it as it was when the Clark’s [sic] last visited in 1953,” the foundation, which is seeking conditional-use and coastal-development permits, said in a letter to the city’s Planning Commission. “In the future the foundation will return to the city with requests for permits to upgrade the facilities for expand [sic] parking, accessible areas, and guest experiences.”

The application’s operations plan shows Bellosguardo will offer “self-parking tours,” in which a maximum of 34 guests would park on the property and be directed toward a “rally point” for a docent-led tour of the first floor of the main house. Tours will be every hour and a half from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Reservations would be made through the foundation’s website. “On-site valet” tours will be conducted for larger groups of up to 63 guests. Ticket prices were not included.

The foundation’s application also seeks permission for different-sized special events each month with shuttle service: up to five special events for between 64-199 guests, up to two for between 200-500 guests, and five dance and theater performances for between 500-1,500 guests each. A separate letter stated Bellosguardo employs four full-time maintenance workers and anticipates hiring five more people when tours begin.

City planner Kathleen Kennedy said staff are still reviewing the new proposal, which comes eight months after its first draft was sent back with requests for more information. A final decision is expected by November 30. If approved, there would be an environmental review and vetting by the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission and Planning Commission. Approvals could be appealed to the state’s Coastal Commission.

Meanwhile, the Bellosguardo Foundation remains in delinquent status with the California Registry for Charitable Trusts after it failed to file complete financial records for the last three tax years. The nonprofit has a deadline of November 29 to conduct an outside audit or its 501(c)3 status could be suspended or revoked.

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Byzantium Nov 22, 2021 10:03 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

One could resort to a dictionary definition of "the arts", which does not require the board to define the arts by any further precision other than their own expressions when such a vague direction is given - perhaps the estate document drafter might have more insights as to intent, but at this time Mr Dedman explains this bequest challenge to "promote the arts" very adequately - it is in the exclusive interpretation of the foundation board:
..........Merriam-Webster defines "the arts" as "painting, sculpture, music, theatre, literature, etc., considered as a group of activities done by people with skill and imagination.".........

ZBHotep Nov 24, 2021 10:59 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

The former mayor appointed her political operative as the president of a major foundation despite zero qualifications or experience. That's disgusting, immoral, and evil. 7 years and the plan is "open tours using existing infrastructure" and "hold events."

Bill Dedman Nov 22, 2021 09:15 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

That's a good question. Huguette Clark's will doesn't say it should be a tourist spot, and doesn't say it shouldn't. It's entirely up to the owner. The vague instruction is to promote the arts. That's all it says. The property goes to a new foundation to promote the arts. The will was rewritten in the settlement of her estate after a dispute, but the language is almost exactly the same: to promote the arts. The foundation, based in New York with first board members chosen by the New York attorney general, could achieve that end in any way it chooses: It could sell the house and use the money, or give the money away to other groups. It could create a museum. It could have concerts. It could have tours. Any or all of that would meet its very limited instruction from the donor. The foundation has spoken of two phases: the first phase, opening for tours, and a second phase, having art exhibitions. Whether those art exhibitions would be within the house itself or in a new building, hasn't been said. It would be an expensive task to bring up to museum standards a home that is nearly 90 years old. Unfortunately, the foundation inherited a very valuable property without inheriting a great deal of money to go with it, so fundraising is necessary. Meanwhile, the foundation can raise money by having high-end private events, such as weddings, as other museums and nonprofits do. (The private events don't require the conditional use permit from the city that the foundation has applied for to open for regular daily tours, which must meet requirements for disabled access, parking, etc.) The private events raise money without it having to compete with other nonprofits for donations. All of this is within its rights as a private property owner. You can read Huguette Clark's will at the following link if you like, along with the wills of her parents: http://powerreporting.com/files/em_handouts/. I hope this helps.

Byzantium Nov 22, 2021 11:08 AM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Good we are getting an airing of the facts about this charitable gift. Lots of misperceptions floating around, obviously and a few personal axes to grind. Appreciate the long slog here to finally shed light and truth on a few years of ongoing misinformation. Keep up the personal attacks you two ZB and Rinconer, so we can all learn the real story about Bellosguardo -start to finish. Thanks Mr Dedman for hanging in there, under this relentless barrage. I learned a lot myself - first misstep was assuming, like others, that the city had some role in its operations due to the early appointment of the then current mayor of SB to choose the newly formed Foundation board. After which the board, not the mayor, in turn hired the mayor's campaign manager boyfriend as their executive director. That did give the **appearance** of conflict of interests, and even a certain degree of sleaziness at worst. But supporting facts now presented have cleared the air on that issue: private foundation board members have the sole duty is to select and hold their CEO accountable - and no one else, as long as best practices are followed. Best wishes to the operation of your foundation in the future, Mr Dedman. Thanks for your well-stated rebuttals, and I hope in the process those taking these continual potshots allows others finally get more facts put into this community-wide discussion.

Rinconer Nov 22, 2021 07:16 AM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

The fact remains that the Bellosguardo Foundation has categorically failed in it’s mission to allow the public to visit for the last seven years. Time to change leadership and clawback salaries.

gcheadley Nov 22, 2021 12:49 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Police and Firefighters are 2 really good examples of socialist entities - they protect everyone equally and their services are payed through taxes by all. So, MARCELK, it sounds like you are implying you are a cop-hater. But why do you hate fire-fighters?

ZBHotep Nov 22, 2021 10:30 AM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

What do you expect when Helene Schneider appoints her political hack for an arts foundation despite zero knowledge or qualifications??? (Here comes Bill to defend the ends justifying the means)

Byzantium Nov 21, 2021 03:39 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Ganna Walska's Lotusland took 10 years between her gift at death and opening of the gardens to the public. From their website:
........"After her death in 1984, Lotusland became a nonprofit botanic garden and opened to the public in 1993. Our educational programs serve the Santa Barbara community and our innovative horticultural practices are shared with botanic gardens and garden-lovers around the world.........

Bill Dedman Nov 21, 2021 08:45 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Here's the part I don't understand, BHOTEP: Why are you so mad about this? Mrs. Clark left her home to a private foundation, not to the city or county, not to the public, but to a private foundation. She said nothing at all about whether this foundation should or should not open to the public for tours. This foundation has decided that it wants to have tours of the home. That's terrific! It's a beautiful home, and many people will enjoy seeing it and learning more about the family. Now, back to the question: Why is the schedule of when it opens for tours a concern of yours, much less something to get angry about. (If you're really angry, and not just trolling.) Why can't a private property owner who wants to open for tours set its own pace, take all the time it wants to raise funds and to pay for architectural studies and the like? It could wait 20 years, or it could decide not to have tours at all, or it could open as quickly as possible, all within its options, if the proper permits are obtained. You seem to think that the foundation should open for tours, and indeed it is seeking city permission to open for tours. Yay! You're on board! Why does the schedule make you angry? Does any of this involve you personally? Saying "what a joke" doesn't explain, why do you have a stake in how quickly this private property owner opens for public tours?

ZBHotep Nov 21, 2021 07:08 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

So the foundation was doing zero planning while the estate was transferred. Then it took 3 additional years to come up with a plan to do tours using existing using existing infrastructure. What a joke.

Bill Dedman Nov 21, 2021 06:53 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

The Bellosguardo Foundation received the property only in 2017-2018. Some commenters speak of 7 years or 3 years, but it has been only 3 years. The main point, however, is that the foundation is not required to open its property to the public, but has chosen to do this. Huzzah! Let's wish them well in getting their city permits and getting all the arrangements made for public tours.

Byzantium Nov 21, 2021 11:02 AM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Early part of the 20th Century saw the development of numerous non-profit foundations in this town which also added significantly to its special architectural heritage we all continue to enjoy today - esp the Childs Estate Zoo, Fleishman Museum of Natural History, SB Historical Museum, SB Art Museum - each gifts to the public yet benefits to the entire nature and make-up of this special city. In that successful vein I am sure Ms Clark assumed her estate would also be a welcome gift. Thank you is in order, as well as expectations this newest charitable foundation operates with the same deep community integrity as those remarkable public benefit-private gifts from the last century.

chico berkeley Nov 23, 2021 08:19 AM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Yes Alex.
I worked on the estate back in the 80's for 4 years.
If you had ever been inside and through every room of the house you would NEVER say such a thing.
That is a French castle that was transported to SB .
I was hired to get a handle on the heating system because all the hand carved French walnut paneling was splitting because it was drying out said walnut paneling and causing it to crack, as just one example.
It has for one thing the first A/C system for a large ballroom,wich at the time was something pretty special.
Historically speaking that alone is a quite an accomplishment.
It was a large "swamp cooler" but still operated in the 80's.
How about this?All the bathrooms had a piece of marble on the floor that didn't match the pattern and if you stood on it a scale built into the wall would show your weight.
Now that is a couple of examples of many, why it is significant.

MarcelK Nov 22, 2021 12:29 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

"The term "McMansion" is generally used to denote a new, or recent, multi-story house of no clear architectural style, which prizes superficial appearance and sheer size over quality."

So, not even close. Also:

"estate: an extensive area of land in the country, usually with a large house, owned by one person, family, or organization."

So, not pretend.

gizmo1 Nov 20, 2021 09:34 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Give it a couple more months and Randy Rowse isn’t gonna put up with this how long it’s taking to do this and what’s transpired meanwhile $150,000 annual salary come on-Enough is enough they can’t run the city let alone a nonprofit that’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars

Bill Dedman Nov 21, 2021 08:59 AM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

Remember, Bellosguardo is not owned by the city. It has nothing to do with the city, other than needing a city permit for tours. Huguette Clark left her home to a private foundation, the Bellosguardo Foundation, which has decided to seek permits to open for public tours.

NotReallyDave Nov 20, 2021 07:18 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

So on the other side of this is some City of Santa Barbara employees in Community Development Department that are supposedly taking a lot of effort to follow the rules and check all the boxes of how rules and regulations are to be enforced. But these same employees will allow an illegal fish processing business to occupy and then remain in an Eastside location, a location that generates many nuisances and ordinance violations that are never enforced. Very suspicious.

Byzantium Nov 20, 2021 04:29 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

The Ganna Walska estate is a good model for opening a previously private property to the public, within the guidelines of a non-profit foundation - a long and careful process, including limiting impacts on the surrounding neighborhood. When will they start training a sufficient numbers of volunteer docents. Good way for those who claim "ownership" this estate as members of the public to participate meaningfully in its operations.

Transparent Nov 20, 2021 02:44 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

It's super-gross to watch people abuse non-profit status. The idea that anything this group does is at its core about serving the public (the key pillar of non-profit mission) is a big joke.

The fact that you might let the "public" come in doesn't come close to cutting it.. pro-bono public service needs to be the heart of your activities... not a side-show to a super-schwanky event / gala clubhouse for the uber rich. Go get em Tylor!

MarcelK Nov 22, 2021 12:42 PM
Bellosguardo Foundation Resubmits Plan for Public Tours

You have no understanding of nonprofit status. It just means that any revenues beyond expenses must be applied to the organization's purpose rather than being taken by private parties. Many nonprofits, like churches, social clubs, and business organizations do not serve the public.

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