Last edited Sun Apr 24, 2016, 02:25 PM - Edit history (1)
For the last 15 years I have worked in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the nation. I provide computer services. In Montecito California there are a lot of small home offices. I will not name drop but you would clearly recognize some of the clients I have had over the years if I were to disclose.
I have a story that I am going to greatly truncate.
Several years back it came to my attention that some land was about to enter the market. It has a set of mineral hot springs. It produces about 50 million gallons a year on the front range of the San Ysidro Mountains and within 6 miles of the city of Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands has a very long history with the Chumash people dating back over 10,000 years. The Spanish Mission era started at around 1769 when the path to the springs were first noted by Europeans. It is at the point of a young state of California that the present history of the springs took a sharp departure. These springs used for upwards of 10,000 years were shared with a white dying man that likely had heavy metal poisoning from quicksilver (mercury) mining over the mountain. (Mineral thermal water are known for chelating heavy metal toxins.) The man healed and promptly filed a land patent on the springs starting the history of coming to Santa Barbara to take advantage of the clime and it's mineral waters in the area.
Mineral waters throughout the US were respected and revered much like the Roman baths but it reached a peak in America and with the beginning of medical colleges and patented medicines those waters as therapy went into decline. There were a series of hotels from the 1860's all the way to the 1964 Coyote Fire.
In 1897 a set of water rights were wrangled at the springs for the downstream estates in Montecito. In that elaborate set of water rights 50% of the water went to a private water company and the other 50% remained with the land owner to be used for the various soaks and plunges.
When the land came for sale a local land trust organization spearheaded the effort to acquire the land and springs. I learned such an organization is not an environmental or conservation organization but a 'fixer' of properties that have various constraints and might not be fully developable. The outcome might provide some form of tax remedy and might include conservation easements or open spaces. In this case it was to be an outright conveyance to the USFS which has surrounding land.
What I discovered in the end was this. The idea was to convey the land and springs to the USFS, but forever remove water so that the public would not be able to soak in the springs! The USFS is notorious for poorly managing hot springs. To them it often is little more than an attractant nuisance, and with increasing budget constraints they cannot manage resources like springs.
My client at the time was the last house of one side of Hot Spring creek, told me when I knew what the endgame would be said, "don't worry all of the donors are democratics", the primary donor that put up 6 million dollars for the purchase lives across the creek and last house before entering into the chaparral forest leading up to the springs a mile away told me by direct conversation, "I considered buying the land for myself and bulldozing and capping the springs so no one would ever be able to soak in those waters again!" A classic case of NIMBY and wealth.
Today the USFS now owns the land, and it also now controls 50% of the water and that 50% is provided as permissive use at no cost to a private water company to feed estates that rival many municipal parks found throughout the U.S. We are talking about 25 million gallons of water a year given freely by our government - that is your water to the detriment of an effectively dewaterd creek with endangered steelhead downstream along with the needs of the flora and fauna found within the watershed itself. To soak in waters that were used for therapeutic and the lesser recreational purposes of relaxation for over 10,000 years are no longer available to the public on public lands and is an actual crime to enter those waters.
I must say I have seen the impacts and greed of wealth and particularly democratic wealth first hand. The fella that put up the 6 million dollars is a heavy democratic funder.
You can dig deeply through this facebook page Montecito Hot Springs and get a good idea what we are really faced with regarding the collusion of government with the lofty one percenters (democratic and republican). Here is an example of one of the estates receiving OUR water that is considered as non-potable irrigating water. These springs make this estate possible!