Santa Barbara County has purchased the first of eight Montecito properties eyed for a new debris basin along San Ysidro Creek, and the Board of Supervisors approved the $4 million deal for 640 Randall Road on Tuesday.
It’s a 1-acre property owned by Ronald J. Daniels and Joanne D. Rosenblatt, according to the county, and the only one of the targeted properties with a habitable house on it.
The Jan. 9, 2018, debris flows destroyed several homes along Randall Road and the 1700 block of East Valley Road, and four of the 23 people killed in Montecito lived along San Ysidro Creek.
The county has been negotiating with property owners, applying for federal grant funding, and starting the environmental review process for the proposed debris basin on parallel tracks to accelerate the process, according to Tom Fayram, deputy public works director .
Santa Barbara County hasn’t heard back from the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding the grant applications, Fayram said, and the $4 million for the 640 Randall Road property came from the Public Works Department’s South Coast Flood Zone fund.
“To be honest, we’re frustrated with the time it’s taken,” he said of the grant applications.
This parcel purchase was “kind of critical” because it was the only property with a viable house on it, and is located in the middle of where the proposed basin will be built, Fayram said.
He told the Board of Supervisors that someone had asked about moving the house offsite, and said he was hopeful it could be moved and put to use instead of being demolished.
The property can be used for maintenance and staging while the county works on purchasing the other seven properties, according to the county.
The county has estimated it will cost $25 million for property acquisition and $8 million for construction.