Pixel Tracker

Monday, January 21 , 2019, 2:57 am | Fair and Breezy 54º


Letter to the Editor: Garden Plan a Viable Compromise

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a cherished place to go birding or botanizing or to walk in quiet beauty. Artists like myself enjoy painting by the meadow. Previously I taught Chumash basketry at the garden and can vouch that the classrooms, lab, library, herbarium and other facilities are sorely insufficient for the magnificent work being done in education, research, conservation and horticulture.

For decades there has been a drastic need for upgraded facilities. Everyone who knows and loves the garden would agree.

Yet there’s heartwrenching controversy about the Vital Mission Plan with dear friends on opposing sides. The other day I went to look at the plan. It’s modest and beautiful, with sandstone and glass architecture set into the same natural contours as the present buildings. The downward slope minimizes visual impact. New square footage is only 25,180, including second stories. The total footprint is about 19,000 square feet, tucked into 1 percent of the garden’s 65 acres. The entrance designed by Isabelle Green leads to a majestic view with mountains in the distance. Restrooms will move away from the meadow and the kiosk removed.

Why the fuss? Twenty years ago, Barry Berkus designed a plan twice as big. Another ambitious proposal followed. Neither went forward. Both scared the neighbors, who apparently are still reacting. What is being decried is like the old proposals, not the current plan.

While I was perusing it, a woman asked where the Meadow Terrace was. She had heard how big, ugly and intrusive it was, but couldn’t find it. Imagine her surprise when she learned she’d just been there! The Meadow Terrace is simply a small open space beside the meadow with knee-high sandstone curbing, where in the early days they would drive to fundraising picnics. The garden has historic photographs showing cars parked in the meadow. Lockwood de Forest was “picnic chairman.” This is a historically appropriate place to have gatherings.

The most controversial part of the plan is ... pavers! Disabled people have the right of access to public places. Pavers are practical for folks with wheelchairs and walkers, families with strollers, the elderly, schoolchildren and docents. Resembling natural stone, pavers are permeable, all-weather, long-wearing, and easy to maintain and remove. I liked the old dirt paths, but after pushing my mother’s wheelchair was delighted to see the pavers.

Emotional opposition comes from a few inflaming their neighbors with fear of fire. Yet the County Fire Department says the plan increases fire safety, with a new turnaround, hydrants, sprinklers and closure on high fire days.

The plan has been approved by the Planning Commission and the Historic Landmarks Advisory Committee, with more than 100 conditions. The garden has compromised and cut. What’s left is the minimum needed to fulfill the garden’s important mission in this time of climate change and endangered flora.

The Vital Mission Plan should be upheld by the Board of Supervisors and the appeals denied. Then friends on both sides can relax and enjoy the garden together.

Anna Campbell
Santa Barbara

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.