Report shows economic impact of Montecito mudslide - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Report shows economic impact of Montecito mudslide

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A report is out with a preliminary assessment of the economic impacts of the Montecito mudslide.
An economic counseling company put together the report estimating monetary damage and long-term effects.
The deadly mudslide and the shutdown of Highway 101 in January had a significant impact on Santa Barbara County's economy.
"Clearly that ended all business for quite a while and even when the clean up was going on, there weren't many people out. It was devastating financially," said David Edwards, who was working Wednesday in Montecito. 
According to the report by RDN, businesses in the affected areas are estimated to have lost $15 million in sales both for December and January. 
"Businesses that we know, like small businesses even on this street that had to shut down because of money they lost, they couldn't pay rent. I think that's just so tragic," said Jessica Woodworth, working in Montecito. 
Many employees were unable to work, mainly because of the highway closure. 
According to the report, that cost local workers $25-30 million in lost wages. 
"Employees not working, owners losing so much money, it was a disaster," said employee Ann Marie Montgomery.
The majority of businesses are now up and running again but there's been a significant drop in tourism in the area. 
"I noticed that people were more hesitant to come after all the tragedy, like after the fires and the mudslide," Woodworth added. 
However, one of the contributors to the report, Robert Niehaus, says he does not expect a long-term negative impact on tourism.
"We figure by summer, much of that will be back to normal. The individual properties will take much longer," said Niehaus, president of RDN, Inc. 
The report shows residential property damages could cost up to $204 million to fully repair and/or rebuild.
"Psychologically and emotionally it's been very difficult for a lot of customers of mine," said Marlene Vitanza, owner of Peregrine Gallery. 
The report also shows the City of Santa Barbara spent $7 million in emergency response to the mudslide. 

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