Los Alamos is a small town that relies on Santa Barbara County for governance.
But we have been suffering under its bureaucracy and its unwillingness to admit obvious shortcomings of a development plan. And the county disbanded our planning advisory committee, which might have reviewed this poorly-conceived development project.
Over 200 residents have signed a petition requesting that the Planning and Development Department take community safety into account and re-evaluate the plan. This unwise development scheme has reached another stage now. And there is a new legal wrinkle.
First, a brief recap. A developer wants 12 dwellings on his one-and-a-half acre lot … six without garages. After opting not to do a study, P&D advanced patently low estimates of additional traffic. It ignores the effects of a one-lane bottleneck and of illegal parking obstructing emergency vehicles in the fire lane.
At December’s Planning Commission Hearing, two of five commissioners had conflicts of interest. The chairman himself admitted having bought a home from the developer, and another having multiple business dealings with the developer, Mr. Ruffino. Neither commissioner recused.
Prior to the hearing, four had spoken with the developer, and the majority had met with Mr. Ruffino and his agent on at least two to three occasions. However, only two had accepted an invitation to hear our viewpoint and concerns.
Also remarkable and confounding is P&D’s lack of candor with regard to the developer’s right of access to a private road that the county requires us homeowners to maintain. The county document that is claimed to give access to the developer only applies to half the road. This is a setup for unauthorized use of all of the road — and a flashpoint for future conflict. And there are still costly liability concerns the county transportation engineer dismisses regarding accidents or injuries at the one-lane bottleneck.
So what’s new? The Board of Supervisors will hear this case and new legal findings in March. We hope they will take a fresh look and apply their wisdom. For the sake of safety and the preservation of a neighborhood, access to the project needs to be reconfigured. A small town simply asks to be respected.