The vision of a third fire station on the east end of the district has been a plan of the District's for more than 20 years. We are committed to protecting you, your property and the environment. We all know that residential growth on the east end is possible, and is already part of the Montecito Community Plan. The District's mission is to deliver professional and timely emergency services to the current and future needs of the community. The addition of Station 3 addresses the areas in eastern Montecito that do not currently meet our response standards, and supports the community's long term plan.
Land acquisition will not get any less expensive, more available or less contentious in the future. The extensive site study (Available on our web site www.montecitofire.com) performed by the District in 2007 identified 14 possible sites. Of these 14 properties, there were only two sites that met the majority of essential and desirable criteria; both being on the Jackson Ranch. The proposed location is directly across the street from 2349 East Valley Rd. It is ideal because of location, size and the fact that it has very few neighbors in close proximity. Additionally, this location was the only location that had the closest thing to a willing seller. The parcel is 2.55 acres of a much larger existing parcel. Currently, the property is used as a lemon orchard but has been zoned Residential 2-E-1 for many years.
An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been completed and certified for the property. The project has been reviewed by the Montecito Association's Land Use Committee four times prior to going to the Montecito Board of Architectural Review (MBAR). Positive comments were made regarding the design path from MBAR, with Board Member Sam Maphis stating, "I would want this to be an exhibit of how people should design their properties". The MBAR completed conceptual review of the project and directed that the project return to the MBAR for preliminary review following Planning Commission. Our next presentation will be to the Montecito Planning Commission on October 24th.
The challenge we now face is a law suit that has been filed by an entity recently formed by the owner of property directly across the street from the proposed fire station site. The entity is called the "Montecito Agricultural Foundation." The Foundation's complaint is that the EIR was procedurally flawed. The District's counsel feels very strongly that the law suit is without merit and that the EIR was processed properly, and we are more than willing to address any issues if it is determined to need additional attention.
We understand and are sensitive to neighbor concerns regarding views, aesthetics, or diminution in value and want to minimize any negative impacts the introduction of a fire station in that area may cause.
However, the District has experienced these same concerns from neighbors in the past, with both of our other station developments. I am unaware of any neighbor suffering ill effects from our existing fire stations and a few have even expressed to me that they enjoy our presence. Regardless, the law suit exists and it is costing the District tens of thousands of dollars per month to defend the EIR.
Over the past seven years the District's governing board and staff have put aside the funds to fully pay for the purchase of the land, the estimated construction costs of the fire station, and a new fire engine. It is our intention to absorb its annual costs for maintenance and staffing within the allocated revenues we receive. What this means to you is more service at no additional cost to the tax payer.
Your taxes will not increase and no fees will be assessed to build and equip this new fire station.
The following bullet points address the justifications for the addition of a third station:
We'd like to hear your opinion on this issue.
Email us at: Station3@montecitofire.com
Or write us:
Station 3 Input
c/o Montecito Fire Protection District
595 San Ysidro Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108