June 2007

Many of you may remember the long and protracted campaign concerning the Hacienda Vieja Project.  From 2004 to 2006, the More Mesa Preservation Coalition fought through all the public processes to ensure that this development was appropriate for More Mesa.  We were deeply concerned about the size, bulk and scale of the proposed structures, as well as the impact of five families in this small area abutting a sensitive wetland and More Mesa.  The decision makers and the community expressed their desire to have no more than three families on the parcels in question.  However, it was finally, and reluctantly, agreed to permit four new (large) houses and a 4500 square foot remodel, which was essentially a tear down and rebuild.  A compromise had been struck and was accepted by both MMPC and the community. Final permitting occurred in mid 2006.

A few months later, the developer, Jack Maxwell, applied for a permit to convert the “remodel” to a duplex, and then proceeded to build the remodel as if the permit already had been approved.  We were surprised and disappointed when the current Planning Commission voted to allow what is, in effect, a sixth residence.  Apparently, the logic behind their decision was that “If it’s legal, we must approve it.”

We depend on our elected and appointed officials to speak for us, protect our environment and be guardians of the community’s best interest (not an individual’s). The ability and wisdom of these officials to interpret laws on our behalf is critical to shaping a  community for people, not a community built by, and for, developers.   Because of this belief, the MMPC has filed an appeal of this decision to the Board of Supervisors. We feel that Planning Commission approval of a project that was vehemently opposed by the community and previous decision makers, while technically legal, was wrong.  Citizens look to our governing bodies to do, not only what is legal, but what is right! Santa Barbara County has broken trust with the community.  We are looking to the Board of Supervisors to rebuild that trust.