New Year’s message from outgoing Riviera Ass’n president, Shelley Bookspan

What a dramatic ending we had to 2017!  Wind-whipped flames igniting the hills behind our homes!  Ashes and smoke the only “rain” we had for months!  Our neighbors unrecognizable behind their N95 dust masks!   Mass mandatory evacuation from our homes while over 8,000 firefighters and auxiliary personnel fought a heroic, relentless, and ultimately winning battle against the monstrous firestorm.  I personally feel deep gratitude for these heroes, not to mention awe at their success in containing what I had really thought–that particular Saturday morning–was unstoppable.  Wow.

Now that the Thomas Fire is behind us, and the new year is ahead, much of what we have to think about as a community has come into focus: water resource scarcity and allotment; population density and housing mandates; public safety personnel retention; street maintenance and capacity improvement; homeless and disability service provision, to name a few evident policy conundra.  I know we on the Board of Directors of the 85 year-old Riviera Association take our role seriously as advocates for our neighborhood, as well as our City.  As I sign off after the honor of serving for four years as President of the Board, I can say assuredly that although we residents of the Riviera may be a diverse bunch politically, we nonetheless are a group of solid, caring citizens. It is both my hope and expectation that the Association will continue its central role of service and advocacy for another 85 years, and beyond.

During 2018, my last year on the Board, the President’s “gavel” will be in the capable hands of Bill Tully, whom many of you met during our recent cleanup of Orpet Park.  As Vice-President, Dale Faithe-Aazam will succeed Addison Thompson, joining the Board’s executive committee, along with Diana Sloane and Wendy Edmunds, who will continue in their roles as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.  I retire from my duties knowing our stalwart organization remains in good hands.

Thank you, neighbors, for your support.  Best wishes to all for good health, peace, and charity in the new year.

Shelley Bookspan

ADU discussion with Senator Bob Wieckowski in Santa Barbara at New Vic

Please note due to the popularity of the event the location has been changed from the Gebhard Room to the New Vic in order to accomodate everyone who wants to come!

Senate Bill No. 1069 came into effect on January 1, 2017 and provides for the creation of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in single-family and multifamily residential zones throughout the State of California. Local jurisdictions statewide are currently in the process of writing zoning ordinances to shape the application of ADUs within their purview.

California Senator Bob Wieckowski is the author of the Bill and will come to Santa Barbara to give background on the Land Use legislation and the intent behind it. The goal is to assist in the local thinking about the law and how to move forward from our current housing deficit. This event will be especially interesting for writers of local City zoning ordinances, property owners, architects, planners, contractors and the real estate/ development community. Greg Nickless, a Housing Policy Analyst with the State Housing & Community Development Department will be speaking for a few minutes after the senator.

Jointly organized by the Santa Barbara AIA (American Institute of Architects) and SBCA (Santa Barbara Contractor’s Association), we invite you to join us. Please rsvp here

Letter from Geoge Buell, City Planning Director, re: ADUs

For your information:

As you are likely aware, at this time City staff is following state law with respect to ADUs.  However, we have just entered into a contract with a firm that will be helping craft a local ordinance that provides a better suited ADU regulatory structure to Santa Barbara.  The state law under which we are now operating is fairly broad, and it does not prohibit ADUs in high fire areas.  However, a locally adopted ordinance can be crafted to exclude ADUs where those units cause public safety and other impacts.

I will ask that Renee Brooke or her staff to provide you with additional detail, such as process, timing and scope.  In the meantime, you can view additional information on our ADU web page here:

If questions remain after you receive the additional information, let me know.



George Buell
Community Development Director
CITY OF SANTA BARBARA, Community Development
(805) 564-5503 |

Letter to the Riviera Association from member Helen Couclelis, May 18, 2017

Regardless of whether Rivera homeowners welcome or deplore the new ADU legislation, we all are subject to the same natural and manmade hazards. Our beautiful neighborhood is officially a high-fire-risk area, and also a high-earthquake-risk area according to the California Earthquake Authority, which recently listed Zip Code 93103 as such. Our narrow, winding, and steep streets are not suitable for mass evacuations, and the prospect of potentially significantly increased population densities and cars parked on the streets must give us pause.

  Even a blanket piece of legislation such as the one imposing ADUs does permit exceptions under conditions such as those in our neighborhood:

“ADUs can be avoided or allowed through an ancillary and separate discretionary process in areas with health and safety risks such as high fire hazard areas… Designating areas where ADUs are allowed should be approached primarily on health and safety issues including water, sewer, traffic flow and public safety.” (California Department of Housing and Community Development, Accessory Dwelling Unit Memorandum, December 2016, p. 8).

  Is our Homeowners Association working with the City to make sure that reasonable and necessary measures are taken to defend life and property on the Riviera (never mind our much-ballyhooed quality of life)?  Special high-risk area regulations are required NOW. THIS IS URGENT, as permits have already been issued and construction of additional units is about to begin.