THR: Oprah, Dick Wolf at Center of Montecito Groundwater Fight.
As Winfrey drills a new private well on her recently expanded property, Jeff Bridges’ wife cries foul: “I would love to find out what’s going on up there.”
As Santa Barbara County continues to struggle with drought (downgraded from “severe” to “moderate” thanks to recent rains), a water war is breaking out in star-packed Montecito. The fight centers on the proliferation of private wells over the past few years in the 9-square-mile hillside neighborhood, where permits have been issued for residences owned by Friends creator David Crane and producer Dick Wolf.
But it’s the area’s largest landowner, Oprah Winfrey, who is causing the most controversy. Last year she spent $28.85 million for Seamair Farm, a 23-acre estate that borders Winfrey’s main residence, a 42-acre spread she named the Promised Land, which she acquired in 2001 for about $50 million. Images of the Promised Land show luscious landscaping with an array of rose gardens, towering trees and an expansive lawn. Both Winfrey properties have wells, but a well drilled within the past 12 months for Seamair Farm has triggered concern among neighbors — one of whom is Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges — with some accusing her of hogging groundwater. “At first, our dealings with her were lovely and charming, and it has been really sad to think that they may not be so,” says Susan Geston, Bridges’ wife. “I would love to find out what is going on up there. I don’t know who knows because things are done and permits are only applied for after the fact.” more here