Coverage Of Rob Lowe's Mega Mansion Leads To Newspaper Implosion

The wealthy, reclusive owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press rebukes editors for coverage of an article about actor Rob Lowe's petition to build a mega-mansion. It's the latest in a series of problems that leads to an 'editorial bloodbath'.
July 10, 2006, 1pm PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"Santa Barbara residents on Friday wondered what would become of the Santa Barbara News-Press following an editorial bloodbath within the 151-year-old local institution's stately walls."

Five editors including chief editor, Jerry Roberts, and a columnist who had been with the paper for 46 years, resigned from the paper citing editorial interference from the owner, billionaire Wendy McCaw. McCaw had intervened to suppress a story about a drunk driving conviction of the paper's publisher, Travis K. Armstrong, and rebuked editors and reporters for reporting the address of actor Rob Lowe's planned mansion.

From the Santa Barbara Independent:

"...[T]his latest episode began on June 21, when the Montecito Planning Commission narrowly approved [actor Rob] Lowe's request to build a mega mansion on a vacant parcel of land he bought for $8.5 million at 700 Picacho Lane.... Lowe has settled down in Montecito, where, like everyone else, he got the itch to build his dream house. With all the bells and whistles -- including pool houses, cabanas, garages, and guesthouses â€" it weighs in at about 15,000 square feet. Even by Montecito standards, that's large. Lowe's immediate neighbor Fred Gluck complained that the 24-foot-high fence Lowe proposed to construct for privacy purposes would substantially diminish the scenic views he now enjoys. Gluck, by the way, is no lightweight. ..

After settlement efforts by Gluck and Lowe's attorneys went nowhere, Gluck appealed to the Planning Commission. There he argued (correctly) that Lowe's plans exceed Montecito build-out guidelines by about 20 percent. But then it turned out, so did Gluck's. Ultimately, the Montecito planning agency concluded that since everybody in Montecito is building castles these days -- mansions are apparently the luxury homes of yesterday -- it would be unfair to say no to Lowe. Aside from the wealth and celebrity of the players involved, this was a typical Santa Barbara land-use story."

Thanks to Larry Armstrong

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, July 6, 2006 in The Santa Barbara Independent
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