Randall Road in Montecito.
A debris basin has been proposed along San Ysidro Creek near Randall Road and Highway 192 in Montecito. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County has purchased six more properties for $8.2 million in hopes of putting a proposed debris basin along San Ysidro Creek in Montecito.

To date, the county has purchased seven of eight Montecito properties for the proposed debris basin near Randall Road and Highway 192.

The project would be built on about eight acres along San Ysidro Creek, an area that was heavily damaged in the deadly Jan. 9, 2018, debris flows. The catastrophic debris flows destroyed several homes within the 1700 block of East Valley Road and Randall Road, and four of the 23 Montecito residents killed in the massive disaster resided along San Ysidro Creek.

The proposed debris basin included the acquisition of seven properties along Randall Road and one property on East Valley Road in Montecito, according to county staff.

One property on Randall Road is still in negotiations, according to the county. 

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to approve the purchases. All six properties approved on Nov. 17 were classified as vacant land in the county assessor’s files, and have higher purchase prices than the 2020 assessed value. 

According to the county, the six parcels in the unincorporated area of Montecito include: 

» A 1-acre property at 680 Randall Road for $1.4 million, which is owned by David W. Rintels and Victoria Riskin Rintels, trustees of the Riskin Rintels Trust.

» A $1.4 million deal for 670 Randall Road, a 1-acre property owned by Lois Ream Waldref, TTEE Lois Ream Waldref Revocable Trust. 

» A 1-acre property at 660 Randall Road for $1.4 million from Andrew Anthony and Agnieszka Anthony, trustees of the Andrew and Agnieszka Anthony 2016 Trust. 

» A 1-acre property at 650 Randall Road for $1.4 million from Anthony C. Nicoletti and Carol A. Nicoletti. 

» A $1.4 million deal for 620 Randall Road, a 1.19-acre property owned by Brian G. MacDonald and Karen MacDonald, trustees of the BK MacDonald Living Trust.

» A 0.98-acre property at 1760 East Valley Road for $1.25 million from Dorothy Flaster, as trustee of the GST Trust created under the Flaster Living Trust.

The Board of Supervisors in 2019 approved the $4 million purchase for a 1-acre property at 640 Randall Road, which was owned by Ronald J. Daniels and Joanne D. Rosenblatt, according to the county. This property is the only one of the eight properties with a habitable house on it, according to the county. 

The six new purchase agreements were approved after a closed session talking about property negotiations. The item was included in the supervisors’ administrative agenda, where most items are approved in one vote unless the supervisors, public or staff pull the item.

First District Supervisor Das Williams pulled the item before the closed session.

“This is enormous in an age where the body politic tends to neglect infrastructure instead of build new infrastructure,” Williams said. “This acquisition at Randall Road is an incredibly important milestone and proof of the county’s commitment to increasing the safety of residents who have experienced great tragedy, and great challenges because of the debris flow.”

The county’s First District encompasses Montecito.

The item generated no public comment at the meeting. 

A $13.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been awarded to the Santa Barbara County Flood Control & Water Conservation District to buy several properties along Montecito’s Randall Road for the debris basin, according to Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office.

Construction of the Montecito debris basin is anticipated to cost about $18 million, Carbajal’s office said in an October statement.

A Montecito debris flow survivor envisioned a debris basin project along Randall Road. Curtis Skene’s residence below Randall Road was destroyed on Jan. 9, 2018, and he approached the nearby neighbors about the project idea.

“This debris basin project was proposed by private interests and received general support by the affected property owners in the area,” according to a county staff report.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.