The Development of San Marcos Foothills

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By Julia Laraway

I am writing to you in desperation and at the last minute regarding the development of the San Marcos Foothills West property that is set to begin this year by the Chadmar Group out of Los Angeles.

I am wondering if the fires burning up and down the state of California are giving you pause as you think of the fact the County okayed the development of a property where fire ravaged the landscape a mere ten months ago in November of 2019? Without a doubt, you know that those hills have burned or were threatened before last year in 2018, 2014, 2013 and 2009. Five times in one decade alone! How can you continue to be complicit in allowing the development of land where there is such a great chance of it burning again?

Does the fact that water is scarce already in Santa Barbara make you wonder at all whether the building of excessively large homes which will undoubtably utilize more water than is needful is appropriate?

After the heat waves of the past weeks when the temperature got to an easy 109 degrees at the Foothills, and was probably hotter, do you still think 9 gargantuan homes gulping up the electricity to cool 3000 to 5000 square feet of living space is a good idea?

I recognize that this deal was made long ago, and that it is coming to fruition on your watch. I know that you do think about the impact this development will have on the community. My heart is broken for the animals that already live there and the loss of habitat this development will entail, and I know in my bones that what is planned is an abomination.  Do you know how many people take solace from the landscape as it is now? The climate is changing, and heat waves and fires will only get worse in Santa Barbara. You must have the will to stop development of places that will burn again and again in the coming years.

My family and I have donated to Channel Islands Restoration Project, which is spearheading an effort to buy the property, but when I last checked there is not a chance that the 5 million dollars will be raised by September 15 of this year. There must be something that could be done to make sure that this property stays in its present state in perpetuity.


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dukemunson Sep 15, 2020 03:32 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

“They” aren’t going to get very far with more mesa... it’s a much different beast than the San Marcos preserve. The preserve was fenced off private land prior to becoming a preserve (via an agreement to build X number of homes)... More Mesa is open and used and enjoyed by hundreds of people every day...

a-1600208331 Sep 15, 2020 03:18 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

"they" have....many times.....it's been protected by a combination of owner neglect, recessions, and cluelessness on the part of developers.....but they have entitlements.....in my mind, acquiring as much of More mesa as possible should be #1 on the part of preservationists; there's been opportunities in the past....but the$$ commitment just wasn't there. We increasingly have very development-friendly elected bodies...... cannot rely on them to insulate every open space from developers

dukemunson Sep 15, 2020 11:48 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

What a certain number of people don’t seem to realize is that the preserve was created OUT of the development, and not vice versa.

a-1600193082 Sep 15, 2020 11:04 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Here's the deal= back in 2004-2006 the epic battle to preserve the bulk of this property was a huge win- and the Trust for Public Lands deeded over to the County. For "environmentalists" to now do a "bait and switch" and fight the small amount of homes allowed in the agreement will only dampen possible future land trust opportunities in other places- such as More Mesa- which truly needs the protection NOW as there is a wide swatch of development possibility there. Enjoy the open space/preserve in the meantime.

Frederick Sep 14, 2020 09:49 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

It’s a real shame to see beautiful natural open space developed for the sake of some luxury view homes. Any time new development like this on unspoiled land is approved the people and future generations lose If time.

dukemunson Sep 14, 2020 02:34 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

The 8 houses take up a fraction of the preserve that EXISTS because the owners gave it as a condition to build something! The preserve would no exist without that! The OP was looking for donations to completely save it. That is honest, noble and good. But the people who bemoan the evil developers for trying to build a few houses on land they own that's zoned for the houses (and were zoned at various points for many MANY more) are ridiculous.

Byzantium Sep 14, 2020 08:59 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

PiMix, time to get woke. You are finally hearing from the variety of voices that exist in this community; not just the "progressive" bubble that has dominated public discussion for far too long to our ever-lasting detriment. Less dismissive attitude that the full range of these voices "not typical" , and more discussion and depth in the public forum is a good thing. Arrogance about a monolithic perspective only is not a good thing.

a-1600236545 Sep 15, 2020 11:09 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

No, what has happened is that those in the “progressive bubble” don’t come to Edhat anymore because of all the negative comments by you all. Negative and boringly predictable.

a-1600199977 Sep 15, 2020 12:59 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Murillo has been elected in multi-party splits of the votes - never by a majority of voters. Believe her last mayor's race which had many candidate splitting votes all over the place ended up with her getting 30% of the vote for a plurality. Whether this split was intended or unintentional, it did produce a dismal outcome. Same with Murillo's first city council election - a multiparty split and in slips Murillo again with only a small plurality. There has been no universal acclaim for Murrillo, nor should there be. But that is the way local politics have gone of late - hold on to the solid city employee union block of votes and let the other civic minded candidates fight over the remaining spoils.

Zenyatta19 Sep 14, 2020 11:52 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Pit- I suspect she got elected because only those living in the city are able to vote. It is likely many who comment on Edhat live in parts of the unincorporated county. Places such as Montecito, Hope Ranch, Foothills, Summerland , Santa Ynez and Goleta

a-1600120907 Sep 14, 2020 03:01 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

How come the majority of con comments here show the same level of ignorance of constitutional law, economics, civics, epidemiology, mathematics, and general science, plus make the same spelling and grammar errors? Is that vast population of reactionaries a set of sociopathic clones?

a-1600117869 Sep 14, 2020 02:11 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

It's ridiculous to rely on internet comments to represent any type of demographic as a whole. But the fact is, these people live and work in our community. Santa Barbara is not as progressive and liberal as it likes to think it is. There's a good number of middle to upper class white people with conservative leaning beliefs, many of whom don't "understand" the protests against racism because they've never personally witnessed it.

PitMix Sep 14, 2020 01:15 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

11:27, a lot of the people that used to post thoughtful comments no longer do so, and I think it is because Byzan and Factotum and the others made the experience less enjoyable and productive. If you read the comments here you would struggle to understand who Mayor Murillo got elected to City Council so many times. But the reality is- she has. So Edhat must not be very representative of SB.

a-1600108045 Sep 14, 2020 11:27 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Pitmix, the only thing I disagree with is the number of conservative commenters here. It's almost always Byzantium being anonymous or a handful of other squeaky wheels, definitely not the majority. The rest of us just get too annoyed to argue with the other side. Can't reason with them.

PitMix Sep 14, 2020 09:41 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Yeah, Byzan. Co-opting liberal speech doesn't make you a majority. Edhat comments are consistently more conservative and anti-incumbent than the town as a whole, which is why we keep re-electing them and have a super majority in the CA legislature. Must be really irritating to you. But keep up your comments in this little con bubble that you've created because I enjoy seeing your attempts to alter reality.

PitMix Sep 14, 2020 07:09 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Julie, the people that post the most on Edhat are not typical of the average SBian. I apprecite the info that you provided and am glad you are willing to endure the slings and arrows of the the neocons in our community.

dukemunson Sep 15, 2020 01:19 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Because I can understand and see that a development that gave up/created a preserve out of private land as a condition of building a handful of houses on that land? You are very prolific on Edhat, but any/all criticism of your posts or thoughts is immediately labeled as a”neocon”. It’s a defense mechanism... and a rather weak and lazy one at that.

Zenyatta19 Sep 15, 2020 12:02 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

You assume people buying these unnecessary houses are all going to pay cash for them? Because in order to have any type of loan to buy a home you must have Homeowners insurance. And to people buying homes in the foothills, fire insurance is the most important issue. You assume because someone has money they are fine with a catastrophic loss? They are fine with their major investment and personal items going up in smoke? Just because someone may be able to afford an overpriced house in the foothills doesn’t mean they can afford to lose it.

a-1600121732 Sep 14, 2020 03:15 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

"Rationing" water use by large rate increases over a certain level - 55 gallons. De facto self-rationing. Virtually the same thing.

Julia Laraway Sep 12, 2020 12:45 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

After having read through the comment section, and taken a walk on the property in question this morning, I keep coming back to the "It's only 8 homes," "We have a right to develop" and "Move to pack and stack and tear down your house," comments. It IS only 8 homes. Someone has mowed the grass up there so one can get a sense of where the houses might sit. They are far apart, and they all have beautiful views, which is truly the point of building up there, and I understand that desire. Yet, those eight homes might burn or need to be evacuated at least once in the next five years based on what has happened over the past ten years, and there will be taxpayer money spent for the protection of those homes. Those 8 beautiful homes will require water for their sinks, toilets, showers and landscaping in a city that lurches from drought to drought trying to conserve water endlessly. ("Gold is the New Green," anyone?) And those eight large homes will be running their air-conditioning for a good long while, sucking energy from an already stretched thin grid if the heat waves that we are now experiencing get worse. Yes, you absolutely have the right to build on property that you own, and I recognize that the Los Positas neighborhood in which I live was once wild land on the outskirts of Santa Barbara. I also recognize that long term thinking dictates a measure of restraint going forward that has not been a part of the way our building practices have worked in the past. I understand I have no real say in the matter, as I am not the owner of the property, nor do I have the means to buy it from them on my own. But in my opinion, and it really is only an opinion, this is a choice between short term gain for a very few, and long term thinking that could benefit many. If you have read to this point, take a moment and watch the video embedded in the op-ed piece in orange text. The San Marcos Foothills West property is a gem, and while it IS only eight homes, they would be yet another sign that humans think primarily in terms of short-term gain. I am in the process of coming to terms with that fact.

Julia Laraway Sep 16, 2020 06:57 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Have been concerned for all 25 years and the opportunity for the community to buy the property is new within the last year.

a-1600236285 Sep 15, 2020 11:04 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

This is not a new development. If you have been walking on this property for 25 years, why are you just now so concerned?

dukemunson Sep 15, 2020 09:36 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Julia - I appreciate your sincere passion and honesty. I do have a question though: do you realize this property was private land 25 years ago that no one could go on and appreciate? Now, because of the allowance of a few houses a preserve was made so you and your kids and everyone in Santa Barbara can enjoy it!!! To strip the reserve of their right/ability to build would be akin to stealing. I’m with you that I’d love to see it bought and Donated/preserved in it’s entirety. But the developers gave the land with the understanding they could build something. You have the preserve... we all do! That doesn’t change. This was a huge win for sb... paragliders of town salute you and everyone involved. But they deserve their 8 houses...that’s an honest and fair exchange for the gift that is the San Marcos preserve!

Julia Laraway Sep 15, 2020 09:11 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Dear Sail380, the prospective development doesn't interfere with my view from higher up on the ridge, and I HAVE watched with concern as other developments move closer to the wild lands, and gobble up more and more habitat for animals that have no where to go. The reason this is important to me is that our family has been walking on and loving this slice of beauty for the last twenty-five years. My young adult kids, who have grown up playing and exploring on this property, and I take our old dog up for sniffs, we go to watch the sunset, we go to climb our favorite oak tree and every time we go we leave feeling renewed and a little less stressed after being out on the highlands. I've also learned from taking Geology classes at SBCC that this property is a massive debris flow from millenia ago. Walking with friends who are birders and naturalists has given me a greater understanding of the animals who live and thrive there, and watching the fires in California lately has lit a fire under me. I will say it again. This is a question of short term gain for a few versus long term gain for the community. Maybe I need to start yelling.

Sail380 Sep 14, 2020 11:05 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

I think I understand her concern's. What we don't know is why suddenly this project is important to her. Does the OP have a track record of opposition to other development? The Comstock project on the bluffs next to Sandpiper Golf Course? The Barcara? The Mirimar? How about the Tree Farm tract on Patterson Rd? Does this project interfere with her view from higher up the hill?

PitMix Sep 14, 2020 07:07 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Sail380, your post minimizing her points and directing her to other battles does not indicate that you actually understand her concerns. Great job on stopping growth in Goleta, by the way. But at least that growth has been in their urban core areas and they have kept their mitts off of the undeveloped land on the foothill side of the 101, so far.

Sail380 Sep 12, 2020 01:37 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

I understand your concerns, I was part of "Goleta Now" 20+ years ago to stop runaway growth. This project your concerned about went through all the reviews and was scaled back, donated substantial free space to meet the concerns of residents and local government. Time to find the next battle. Maybe water hungry weed and grapes in the Santa Ynez Valley?

a-1599935369 Sep 12, 2020 11:29 AM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Art of the deal - this property is now a white elephant. Fires, mudslides, vagrant camps, high insurance premiums if they even will issue a policy, are all very different now than they were in 2005. Keep that in mind when you start talking price.

a-1599969917 Sep 12, 2020 09:05 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

No, that's not correct. If the number is 8,000, which is probably fairly accurate, SB City will be mandated to _zone_ for 8000 more dwelling units for varying incomes, not to provide them. Developers can not be forced to build.

Sail380 Sep 11, 2020 07:34 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Everyone cry's about loss of habitat and using resources. No one here is volunteering to move to stack and pack housing, tear down there house and restore the land to its original habitat. This one is over.

a-1599879706 Sep 11, 2020 08:01 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

No, we just want fewer people. Or at least the number we currently have, and no more. And anyway, eight or nine fancy houses isn’t going to do a lot for the housing crisis.

a-1599873454 Sep 11, 2020 06:17 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Wait— 100 acres for - $5mi!? Hard to believe... each one of those homes/parcels would bring several million individually.

dukemunson Sep 11, 2020 08:10 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

That’s the “buy as a preserve price”... not a buy to build price. And the houses don’t appear to have much fencing if any as the place is remaining a preserve... just with a few houses. Seems like a huge win for sb... they got the preserve and are “giving” a few houses on a property that at one point was going to have a lot more. This isn’t a water issue, density issue or ISSUE at all unless you just hate seeing anything built anywhere, which OK... but we have property rights and whoever owns this deserves after satisfying every requirement to build something and maybe make some money (big maybe there... building anything in sb is brutally expensive)

Julia Laraway Sep 11, 2020 06:47 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

Please feel free to contact Channel Island Restoration. Their website has all the information as well as phone numbers and emails of the director, lead biologist etc, and they are forthcoming and hoping to facilitate this deal. Ask them about it. They are willing to talk and answer questions

hz Sep 11, 2020 03:43 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

praying for a benefactor..please..this is a beautiful area with expansive views. Santa Barbara deserves open spaces. I agree..we do need more housing...AFFORDABLE housing closer to down town. I have walked there many times and have observed all kinds of wild life. Begging some one, one of our billionaire/millionaire friends/neighbors to help the community out here. Five million dollars can save this space...there is no other space like it ... it is beautiful and unique. do we really need more multi million dollar mansions for outsiders to come in and buy? I am hoping for a solution,, please <3.

a-1599860389 Sep 11, 2020 02:39 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

I sympathize with the sentiment but the post- and appeal for money- are very misleading.
This project and these homes were approved in 2005. There is nothing pending, no proposal= they are approved; the recession delayed the construction [as it did for many developments] but the appeal period is long gone. All of the pertinent documents can be found on the County website, search "preserve at San Marcos".

Julia Laraway Sep 11, 2020 05:28 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

I believe the amount is 5.5 million for CIR to buy at fair market price. So far over 60,000 has been raised according to an email I received this morning.

Julia Laraway Sep 11, 2020 05:04 PM
The Development of San Marcos Foothills

I believe the amount is 5.5 million for CIR to buy at fair market price. So far over 60,000 has been raised according to an email I received this morning.

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