Notes from the 1/26/2018 Community Meeting at the Faulkner Gallery

Ben Romo from First 5 – Moderator


Link to on screen (Powerpoint) presentation

Link to community survey they would like as many folks as possible to complete

Link to Facebook Live broadcast of first 35 mins (iPhone ran out of battery…)

Link to FAQ re: Long Term Exclusion Zones

You can use the social media buttons at the bottom of this page to share via your social networks, as well.

Das Williams Spoke First

We are now in the process of preparing for the next storm and figuring out where we go from here.

Significant challenges include:

All of the basins have not been cleaned out and there is limited access even with trucks queued up.

Only one major basin is completely clear – San Ysidro.  Cold Springs is close behind, but Romero is going to take more time and the Santa Monica basin in Carp is going to take a LONG time. Those responsible are currently anticipating that the job won’t be done until the first week in March.

We all need to have patience. We need people to take leadership roles. In the meantime, people are living life as normally as they can.


Rob Lewin, Emergency Management Director, was up next to speak

Unparalleled disaster in many ways – fire followed by flood

We have to stay vigilant and be prepared for the future. We will probably have to evacuate again.

We need to create a sense of community.

This disaster began with a 200K person power outage on 12/4. Even the hospital was on backup power. Gas stations weren’t able to pump gas. The OEM immediately started planning for a multi day power outage.

There was 60K acre burn day on the Thomas Fire, whereas prior, a 10K day would be something to talk about.

400 fire engines were ready to engage when the TF descended on Montecito and, even while the fire was burning, the emergency responders immediately started prepping for the storm.

Even riparian areas had *nothing* left in them following the blaze, which indicated potential for significant debris flows.

This was the first time EVER that this area evacuated before a storm. From top leadership down, the OEM knew we had to do it.

But from tragedy can come hope. (Like SB did in 1925 following the earthquake.)

Compassionate responders are now guiding residents back who have suffered great losses. Teams of people meet daily re: direction on mud cleanup/remediation.

Some bridges along the 192 are closed to all but emergency personnel and in the event of another evacuation, because they can’t handle normal traffic.

Utilities are all going well vis-à-vis coming online.


  • Clean debris
  • Repopulate
  • Get into recovery mode
  • Contingency planning for the next few rainy seasons

Components of long term recovery – departments involved:

  • Debris Management | traffic plan to minimize trucks in place. Local, state, and national folks involved in addressing debris on private parcels – anywhere from 1ft to 10-15ft in the long term exclusion areas and the areas surrounding those regions. THERE WILL BE MORE SEDIMENT COMING OFF THE HILLS. The topography has changed…and is still changing.
  • Watershed – Flood Control – local, state, federal experts involved – identifying what needs to happen in the future. Creek channels have migrated/moved. They are not where they were.
  • Health & Human Services – county, state, federal, non-profits – providing local mental health and animal services assistance.
  • Infrastructure – roads have failed + bridges are destroyed. We have experts/engineers involved to make sure we’re doing it while simultaneously thinking toward the future.
  • Public Safety –gas lines had to be vented, water systems bled, power lines put back up. The OEM needs to hear from residents if there are issues still to address. Lots of temporary fixes in place. Not yet permanent solutions, in large part. There may be utility disruption going forward.
  • Rebuild Permits/Planning – we need to all work together to rebuild. This is not like a typical wildfire. If your home burns, your foundation and utilities may still exist. In this case, the topography is still changing and foundations/infrastructure have been lost.

Residents are being allowed to return as soon/safely as possible. Long term exclusion zones will remain in areas severely damaged/destroyed. Yellow and red tagged residences will not be repopulated at this time.

MUS + private schools are open as of Friday, 1/26

CVR opened Tuesday, 1/23

Upper Village opened Wednesday, 1/24



2MM cubic yards of material – early estimate (1 dump truck holds 10-15 yards…)

Topography is still changing



Debris removal options – Homeowner, Homeowner and Volunteer, Contract, Private

Repair & Rebuild Infrastructure in a resilient manner – there will continue to be recovery truck competition on neighborhood streets and highways for a long time to come.

Repair & Rebuild homes – dedicated teams are being established – there will be a specific case planner assigned to each affected household. Consistency and continuity of planning staff. Expedited permitting process currently in development.

Rebuild community  – Local Assistance and Recovery Center (LAC) is currently located at Calvary Chapel (1 Calle Cesar Chavez) and stay open until 2/3. It will transition to a Montecito Center at a TBD location on 2/5.

SBCA Member Call To Action: The SBCA has been hosting a table at the LAC and will continue to do this through 2/3 and potentially once the location moves to Montecito. If you are willing to volunteer for a shift, please reach out to Summer @


The OEM is worried about the types of storms that we usually wouldn’t be concerned about

Burn Area Emergency Response, Watershed Emergency Response Team, with members of CA Geo Survey and Dept of Water Resources are evaluating the situation and formulating a plan

We also still need to be vigilant about Wildfire Protection

Storm Readiness plan being developed – including messaging to the community + ongoing communications



FEMA Definition of Whole Communities

We need to: understand community complexity

Recognize community capabilities and needs

Foster relationships with community leaders

Build and maintain partnerships

Empower local action

Leverage and strengthen social infrastructure, networks, and assets



Act quickly

Actively plan

Engage the whole community

Develop partnerships, networks, and coordinate activities

Make decisions locally

We have lots of local creative capital to build a community consistent with the vision of the residents

Lead, Partner, Follow, Honor Survey

SBCA Membership Call to Action: Please have your entire staffs complete this survey and also forward along to your local email lists—both personal and business:



Survey distribution/collection

Identify leadership group and planning meeting (review input, develop priorities, processes, establish core leadership + expectations, create first round of potential projects/ideas)

Report to partners + followers with invitation to attend community input sessions and provide feedback/more ideas

Process of distilling ideas to identify priority projects will be developed by leaders


Next Speakers – Hannah Beth Jackson + Monique Limon re: legislation

Local government and responders are HERE for residents

There are resources through FEMA, state (financial, informational, general support)

We need to create a 21st Century infrastructure for Montecito

Trains were a lifeline – please consider them going forward as the trucks will continue to need to compete for places on the roadways

We need to improve the emergency alert system. HBJ introduced a bill this week that the Fire caused the mudslides…and they will need to continue that way throughout the next couple of years – proximate cause for insurance coverage and there is existing case law in the state that covers this. There IS no gray area. Government at every level is working to get residents the resources they need.

Residents will all be in by the end of the weekend. IMPORTANT: Don’t move large volumes of debris off private property until you’ve got clearance. You can remove it from your *home*, but you’ve got to leave it on your *land* to dry out. Go to the OEM website for handout on how to remove debris. (This includes Marborg dumpsters.)

SB Member Call to Action:

ABE POWELL – Now that people are getting back into their homes – SB Bucket Brigade – construction volunteers that have signed waivers to help you clear out your homes. EMAIL FOR COORDINATION AND/OR TO VOLUNTEER: Use one of the following subject lines so that your message is directed correctly – either (1) VOLUNTEER or (2) DIGGING OUT

Residents will need to escort their out of town families in with proof of residency through police barricades, if they are coming in to help you dig out.

Call center handled 750 calls YESTERDAY (Thursday) and solving problems. 833-688-5551 is the call center line. (LAC call center)



Long term exclusion zone lines will be adjusted to smaller areas as soon as they can.

There is adequate capacity for people who want to take the train.

Form community watches for each other as we go through this difficult time as a community. Google Groups are a good solution for street or neighborhood level lists to stay abreast of developments on a hyper local basis, as is the NextDoor network. (

OEM is using LIDAR data from geologists to make sure we continue to stay as safe as possible. Used all historical documentation of fire followed by flood in developing plans.

BIG QUESTION: How do we help residents that SHOULDN’T rebuild because they could DIE if they do?

IMPORTANT: We were already in a drought and the Jameson Reservoir ended up with a lot of debris in it and the pipelines got damaged. As a result, there’s a SIGNIFICANT water impact. CONSERVE WATER AS MUCH AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. Everyone’s use of water impacts your neighbors and your community. It’s *not* pretty on the water front. You can demand that, if your home needs to be de-ashed, that they truck in water from other places.

Postal delivery will happen as soon as everyone has returned to their areas.

Marborg is picking up trash today on their regular days. IT IS A MAJOR PROBLEM TO PUT MUD IN THE TRASHCANS. We can’t legally or logistically put it in the landfills.

We need to focus, as well, on the people who work and/or rent in Montecito, because they also have significant hardships.

What to do with the items that are found: Immediately call the Sherriff and have them pick it up.

Private property cleanup – who pays/completes the work? Still TBD…even if mud wasn’t originally on the property. Call your insurance company ASAP.

Call insurance companies about flood insurance for the future.

How long until experts can be brought in to analyze the state of their homes? Impacted homeowners are handed a notebook and need to recognize the complexity. After they return to their homes, you can go back to the homes with a contractor TOMORROW to start the cleanup/remediation/repair process. There are limitations to government. DEMAND that your insurance company is performing the way that they should. We all need to be survivors and fight your way through it. OEM is letting people in as fast as they possibly can. If you’re not in yet, there’s a safety issue.

Dick Shakowitz (sp?) from Water District- Central Coast doesn’t look like more rain, but more like big drought for the rest of the year. However, keep in mind that the weather people can only look 1-2 days out reliably and up to 10 days less reliably.

We need a more streamlined planning process. Das says we will FIRST figure out what prepares us most for the future. Flood control and planning departments are assessing risk—both now and in the future. Second challenge is we DON’T have any money as a County. County was $24MM in debt already on 12/3. We need to navigate fire, flood, fiscal disaster.

CEC’s “From Ashes to Opportunity” program that was put together 10+ years ago has risen from the ashes and is currently being updated/revised.

Property tax reductions and impact on County budget? We need someone from the Assessor’s office to clarify.

Health Department is doing active testing in the ocean for bacterial levels, they have done soil samples of 5 pollutant sampling levels. Good news is that they haven’t been finding much other than bacterial challenges. Sample sites are on the Public Health website. Overall, the mud is safe to have on your property. Environmental Health is confident.

Building Department is saying that they need a clearance from Environmental Health for your *individual* parcel to get a demolition permit – call 346-8489 to get this done.

Everyone needs to be careful of trees falling. They are currently soaking in mud and pose risks.

On February 3, CA’s insurance commissioner is coming to town so that we can address insurance related issues.

Geologic/hydrologic/topographic information is in process. Everything will be available online as soon as it is released. It’s not ready yet.

Creative Commons Photo Credit: A view from a California Air National Guard HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter shows the devastation caused by a mudslide in Santa Barbara, Calif., Jan. 10, 2018. California Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Cristian Meyers. Labeled for Reuse.

Montecito Recovery // Rebuilding

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