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Coast Village Road businesses remaining positive one year after Montecito mudslide

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-07 21:20:53-05

Almost one year after the January 9 debris flow flooded Coast Village Road, businesses on the popular Montecito street are still working toward getting back to normal.

It was the backdrop of national headlines for weeks: Coast Village Road was buried after the January 9 debris flow, trapping people inside places like the Montecito Inn.

“There was no getting out by vehicle. We had to have the National Guard come and rescue all of our guests out of the hotel,” explained Jason Copus, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Montecito Inn.

Once everyone was out, the extensive repair process began not only for the hotel but other businesses as well.

“Once the mud was pushed away, what happened was a lot of mud came in under the door, almost like a snowplow effect so we had to come in and get that all out,” said Laura Dinning, owner of Allora by Laura.

While access to the area was re-opened within a few weeks, the months that followed proved tough for some of the Montecito businesses.

“I’ve been open almost six years and it’s almost like opening up my first year — the challenges, the negotiations, the understanding of insurance and what’s covered, what’s not, how to communicate with our customers, how to keep my employees working — those kinds of challenges,” Dinning explained.

“It was a rough few months. The summertime was pretty good, as good as it could be. We always count on the summer for business to come up but the unfortunate thing is in the fall. Weddings and parties like that had already canceled their plans for coming to Santa Barbara, so recouping that business was difficult,” Copus said.

Now almost one year later, businesses we spoke with say they’re hopeful for the future and are grateful for the community support they’ve been receiving.

“The street is really coming alive again. There’s a lot more businesses on the street. Even though there are some restaurants that are competition, we are busier than ever and I see the other restaurants are busy, too. It’s good now,” said Leonard Schwartz, general manager of Lucky’s Steakhouse.

“It’s been a lot of grit for us but through the challenges, there’s been a lot of successes and new things we’ve had to learn and a lot of good communication with other businesses and friendships and sense of community that’s just been very heartening,” Dinning said.

The Montecito Inn has made a garden with 21 stones to remember the lives lost in the mudslide. They say they plan on shining a beacon light from the top of the hotel on Wednesday to mark one year since the mudslide.

A remembrance event is planned for the community on Wednesday. Click here for more details.