Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rick Caruso's Ultimatum Party: The Event of the Season!

I spent a few minutes last night going through my closet, trying to figure out what in the world I was going to wear to Rick Caruso's party next week. OMG! I have six days to get my ensemble together, my hair done done at Walter's and new shoes from Nordie's to match my Vera Wang dress. I'm sure Occhiali has the right glasses to match. I don't need them -- but I think Caruso wanted us to look smart and like, you know, we know what we are doing? The July 15th event is at Birnham Wood Golf Course and you just never know who might be there!

Now that I've written this bit of sarcasm, however, I might end up in the same spot as her man at De la Guerra, Travis Armstrong. This from an opinion piece last week:
The company wants to replace the Miramar with a new 202-room hotel, along with restaurants, shops, employee facilities and convention and banquet rooms.

I've been told I'll be turned away at Birnam Wood's gate.

Matt Middlebrook of Caruso Affiliated says he has no idea how much his company will spend on the reception. The company also will provide lunch and refreshments as incentives for people to attend the commission hearing on July 16.

Politics sure does make strange bedfellows in that I never imagined Armstrong naming someone to his cabal and then getting cold-shouldered by someone of the likes of Caruso. I'll even go so far as saying I've generally been in agreement with TKA's op-ed pieces on the Miramar project. Planners have quit, ultimatums have been made -- it's really been a circus over there. And, is the public so tired of seeing an empty Miramar that they will do anything to get something?

I think just about anyone can see the arrogance inherent in telling the County of Santa Barbara that he will just pull up and leave if he doesn't get his own way. EIR's and the community be damned!

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Anonymous Rustic Charms said...

No go to Carus's over-bloated Miramar plans.

He has to go back to the drawing boards and meet all requirements for his NEW development. He bought it knowing this and his current LA style temper tantrums don't count for anything in this town except grave annoyance.

Issue a mandatory injunction immediately against him to clean up his health and safety nuisance he is maintaining and tell him to put down that gun to our heads immediately. He comes to us hat in hand; not the other way around.

Welcome to Santa Barbara Ricky baby - you are not going to make money off our ambiance and destroy it at the same time.

7/09/2008 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Miramaid said...

Bad news, Rustic, the LA boy's got this project all sewn up. Just watch, after a tad of feather flapping and tacking on a few weak-kneed conditions, Montecito's planning commission will hustle to approve this project almost as submitted.

7/09/2008 11:52 PM  
Blogger Spike said...

People seem to think the Miramar Hotel plan should be escorted through the planning process like Air Force One. That idea was launched by the new owner at his first Town Hall meeting when he announced that he hadn't bought “just a hotel.” He’d bought “a set of approved plans!” The fellow in the striped shirt had made an inside joke. He understood our community already. And he would build the plan that so many had worked on for so damned long. We laughed. We applauded. Especially those of us who have lived hip-to-hip with the Miramar Hotel in its good days and in its very bad years. You see, in spite of what’s being said at the developer's coffee parties, no one this side of sanity would want to live next to an abandoned hotel. And we are more than sane.

Rick Caruso bought the Miramar Hotel along with Ian Schrager's seven-year-old, county-approved, Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND). Rick's comment at the Town Hall that night was meant to imply that he would build the approved Schrager plan—or something close to it. Since then, however, in a slick sleight-of-hand, the “approved” plan has been replaced with a mega- hotel and retail complex that has almost nothing in common with the approved plan. In fact, the two plans differ as much as two hotels can differ while being proposed for the same piece of land.

Folks, you're being had.

Don’t believe me? Start with the fact that it is not the same piece of land:

Schrager wasn’t going to change the land.

The Caruso plan would haul in enough landfill to lift 16 acres up and out of the floodplain, lift it so high that it would sit above the railroad tracks. This manmade mesa would be flat. That’s right: the entire hotel property from the 101 to the railroad tracks would be high and flat. (Think of big-box shopping-centers along freeways. No dips, no nothing: flat.) The property – that is, the land under the buildings – would be raised as much as 13 feet from where it is today. Thirteen feet. And that’s where the very tall buildings would perch.

So please don’t believe it when someone tells you that the approved Schrager plan has anything to do with what’s being proposed today, because it is literally not the same property. It is mountains of hauled-in, compacted, and leveled landfill.

Do you remember the woman in that first Town Hall meeting who raised her hand to say quietly that she hoped the developer understood this community? She paused then, as if she were trying to think of a way to say it politely. “That is,” she continued, “we prefer quiet things. We wouldn’t want it to be like Disneyland.”

And the developer assured her that he understood. And the entire community believed what he said. Instantly and to this day.


7/10/2008 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Mike Brown special #182 said...

Watch this process closely, folks. Just like the Ballantyne project, this is one of those Mike Brown specials----complete with employees who are disciplined and/or screamed at for not being willing to compromise professional and ethical standards--secret back room closed door meetings; a pre-ordained "recommendation" from professional staff (who are willing to hold their nose while writing it) and a befuddled commission and community. The only twist in this one is that usually these Mike-Brown-specials have emanated from the 3rd or 4th Districts. So the wild card here is WWSD (what will Salud do). Anyone with a passing knowledge of CEQA recognizes that Caruso's project and Schraeger's project w/ MND are apples and oranges. Not even close. So we need an EIR. The fact that the Miramar property is an eyesore is something that Caruso should be compelled to address.

7/10/2008 6:08 AM  
Anonymous Vox populi said...

Caruso is maintaining a public nuisance. Get an injunction for him to clean it up NOW!

And then he can get his tail through a whole new approval process for his whole new process. Rules were not written for him to break.

But anyone who lets him hold a gun to their collective administrative heads while he walks away from his responsibilities as a property owner to get only what he wants shall be impeached, recalled or run out of town on a rail.

It is time to take this town back and tell public employees who their real boss is; and not the other way around.

Mike Brown serves at the pleasure of the board of supervisors. Our tax dollars pay all their salaries and the supervisors serve at our pleasure, the voters.

Power flows from the people up, and not from the top down. We the people demand Caruso clean up this property and clean up his development application. It is not any clearer than that.

7/10/2008 7:55 AM  
Anonymous art said...

It's also reminiscent of the St. Francis Project, with the disregard of the neighbors, using a shuttered institution as justification for building an inappropriately sized replacement, and the involvement of wealth and influential powers who believe in entitlement more than fairness. Even in the preparation of a bogus EIR. When the fix is solidly in you can get every official to nod in agreement about the wonderfulness of anything.

7/10/2008 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Been there said...

Mike Brown, the county and he city will do what ever they want to do without regard for the community, the community plan, EIR's, water, traffic and/or any zoning laws.
They have proven that over and over -- Westmont College, St Francis and Chapala. It will continue with the 76 Station on Coast Village Rd and the Miramar. We are just the tax payers NOT the decision makers ..

7/11/2008 2:00 PM  
Anonymous seen it all before... said...

Let Caruso build the approved plan or start over - simple direct message -- but I doubt we'll ever see the Montecito Planning Commission stand up and demand it. PR only goes so far - Caruso should have spent the time and money on the studies to prove (or disprove) the new project worked. Now it's just more bluster. And in this economy, he's probably just looking for an excuse to walk (or walk, blame and sue for damages?)

7/11/2008 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Freedom of information fan said...

Mega Hotel? Have any of you ever actually compared the Caruso plan with the Schrager plan? Are you aware that Caruso's plan has fewer rooms, better beach access, and more public parking? Are you aware that Warner owned this property for something like 5 years before Caruso bought it 18 months ago? Does that maybe imply that Warner might have some responsiblity for the current state of the property (at least he was intelligent enough to walk away from this Kafka-esque process). Let's just cut the crap, let the MPC approve and BoS agree and get on to the inevitable lawsuit stage.

7/14/2008 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/27/2008 2:35 AM  
Anonymous Remember Name/URL said...

Yikes! Freedom of information fan? Where are you getting the free information? Schrager wasn't going to scrape the property clean, bring in a thousand truckloads of landfill (that sounds like an exaggeration; sadly, it's not), dump them in; grade the hell out of the property until it's flat as a pancake and as high as that mesa so many car commercials were shot on so long ago; and then build what would look like an Encino colonial office complex--but with views of the ocean all the way back to South Jameson Lane. By the way, do a little research with all your free time: find out that Ty Warner replaced the roofs on a number of the cottages then wrapped them in a waterproof, mold-proof material used to protect historical landmarks during nearby construction. Every bit of information you quote comes right off bullet-pointed lists written by the developer's PR agency, the same one that writes the demonizing lines about the "neighbors."

What is it that makes you and so many others not only believe everything you're told, but come away from coffee parties and pre-hearing receptions at the country club with a head of anger? How does he get your neighbors under your skin?

7/27/2008 6:35 AM  

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