What the Heck Is Going on With Bellosguardo?

••• An update on the repair of the Thousand Steps Beach stairs: “Construction is expected to last about eight weeks. It is unclear when it will begin, but it must be completed before the summer. The California Coastal Commission won’t allow the key access way to be closed during the summer season.” —Noozhawk

••• “The first significant storm of the season is headed for Santa Barbara County this weekend, but rainfall amounts are not expected to cause serious problems in and below the Alisal Fire burn area. […] Rainfall totals should be in the 1- to 2-inch range, with most of the precipitation occurring during a six-hour period after midnight Sunday.” —Noozhawk

••• “The privately held water company that supplies Santa Barbara’s Hope Ranch community is floating a unique idea. La Cumbre Mutual Water Company […] is considering purchasing water produced by an offshore desalination plant contained within a buoy.” —Independent

••• “More than 70% of eligible county residents are now fully vaccinated against the virus and just over 59% of all county residents were considered fully vaccinated as of Sunday, according to Santa Barbara County’s Community Data Dashboard.” —Noozhawk

••• The Independent ripped the Bellosguardo Foundation a new one for hosting another party while making no progress toward opening to the public in any capacity. “I thought back to the beginnings of this great Bellosguardo Boondoggle, back to 2014, when our mayor at the time, Helene Schneider, appointed her then-lover, Jeremy Lindaman, to lead the organization, despite his shocking lack of qualifications. Lindaman had previously worked as a political consultant and before that for his family’s print shop. He’s since been paid a six-figure salary to run a nonprofit with millions in assets―doing what, exactly, is hard to say, though he’s rumored to live there full-time.” Perhaps it’s time to ask our mayoral candidates what they’re going to do about it.


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Bill Dedman

Huguette Clark generously left her property, the home that her mother built in Santa Barbara, to the private Bellosguardo Foundation, not to the city of Santa Barbara. People keep saying, “it’s ours,” but it’s not. It belongs to a private foundation, as her will directed.

Second, the foundation’s primary purpose, according to the will, is “fostering and promoting the arts.” The president and board chairman of that foundation have laid out how they intend to do that: long term, with art exhibitions and arts events, but a lot has to be done to get to that point; and in the short term, starting as soon as possible to have public tours of the mansion.

Third, the foundation, like other property owners, is allowed to have private events without needing a permit.

Fourth, events such as wedding parties help the foundation accomplish its goals by raising funds for its publicly stated plans of opening the property to the public, the very goal the author of this piece claims the foundation is not working toward.

Fifth, city meetings — with minutes and videos and plans available online — show that the foundation is doing what it has promised: working to open the home to the public, planning public restrooms and a ramp to meet ADA requirements, and sufficient parking. The foundation president, Jeremy Lindaman, made public comments at these public meetings, describing the foundation’s plans to open for public tours as soon as possible, as soon as it gets the city’s approval. You’ll be able to go online, buy a ticket for a docent-led tour.

Sixth, the foundation did not take possession of the Clark property until 2017. These things take time. Especially in a home not used for 60 years.

Seventh, the foundation and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum are planning an exhibition of artwork by Huguette Clark, art which just came to the foundation this summer from her estate.

In short, I’m glad that Mrs. Clark’s home is on its way toward meeting her stated goal of promoting the arts.

I was glad to help lead a tour of the home as a fundraiser for the foundation. I did this as a volunteer, for no pay, just as others in the community have generously volunteered many hours of their time. The tour that I helped lead was advertised on the foundation’s website. Again, raising money for a charity so it can meet its goals is a good thing.

It’s a good thing that the Bellosguardo Foundation is making ambitious and thoughtful plans.

It’s a good thing that it is raising money, partly by being a sought-after venue for weddings.

Raising money will allow it to open this historic home for public tours, once it gets full city approval.

See more info and photos at http://facebook.com/investigative.reporter.

Bill Dedman

co-author of “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”

Reach me at [email protected].