CPA REPORTS — December 30, 2020

This issue is a bit unusual for CPAR: the focus is on only Santa Barbara City, its major planning issues of the past year, with a tip of the hat to Goleta, and not necessarily ones with which CPA has been involved. All will carry forward into 2021. We’d have liked to present county questions but person-power (is there such a word?) or lack thereof prevented that. Enjoy! and wishes for a Very Happy New Year to all of us!!

Update on Santa Barbara’s Revised Historic Structures Ordinance

On November 11, 2020, Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission considered the third draft of proposed ordinance amendments pertaining to historic resources. During discussion the HLC members incorporated many suggestions and corrections offered by public speakers and letter writers. 

That draft did not place the pertinent provisions in a central easy-to-find historic resource and district grouping, but scattered them throughout the Municipal Code’s Title 30, The Zoning Ordinance. The decision to do this had been made by Planning staff and City Attorney’s staff. The HLC voted unanimously to recommend the draft to City Council with more than a dozen comments.  

The Planning Commission had a fourth draft of the ordinance on its December 3, 2020, agenda (11/24, 82-page staff report) and received comments from public speakers via webinar. Speakers included Fred Sweeney, Kellam de Forest, Mary Louise Days, and Patricia Saley. Citizens Planning Association sent a letter.  

Staff placed responsibility in the PC to review the zoning overlay sections relating to historic districts because they would result in amendments to the land use zone maps. Some commissioners appeared to be confused about the limited extent of their responsibility and the definitions of certain terminology in the various ordinance sections. 

Lengthy discussion took place and the agenda item was continued to the December 17 meeting of the PC. (See: 12/10 Memo, outlining revisions.) This allowed for more study and further public communication. Several members of the public wrote letters to the PC, and at least seven spoke at the December 17 hearing. Comments, suggestions and explanatory remarks were offered by the correspondents, including gratis assistance by professionals in the fields of preservation and architectural history. 

Several knowledgeable Santa Barbarans have proposed the establishment of a group to help prepare a printed guide to identify and clarify the portions of Title 30 that relate to duties of the HLC and to historic resources provisions.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted to send its comments on to the City Council and the Ordinance Committee. Members of the public will continue their months-long involvement in the process.

___by Mary Louise Days

And in Goleta, a Historic Preservation Ordinance 

Goleta is in the process of developing a Historic Preservation Ordinance, with three meetings of the city planning commission in 2019, talked about for 2021. From the city’s website: “In 2016-2017, the City of Goleta began conducting a citywide historic resources survey. Working with a consultant team from Historic Resources Group, the project will consist of the creation of a comprehensive Citywide Historic Context Statement and a Citywide Historic Resources Survey to create an inventory of historic resources in the City. The context statement and survey will consider properties constructed through 1969.” Click for link.  

For info on the ordinance, with PC PowerPoint presentations, copy/paste: Photo Gallery of Historic Goleta Photos: – ad-image-1.


Planning State Street 

The major and on-going planning effort for Santa Barbara is what do about State Street, slicing through the city’s historic center, El Pueblo Viejo (EPV). Last June, the city council renamed the Downtown Long Range Planning Initiative, the State Street Subcommittee. Chaired by Santa Barbara newcomer, councilmember Meagan Harmon, its role is to evaluate with a fresh eye the closure of the city’s main thoroughfare and the conversion to a Promenade. 

Removing cars from State Street has long been advocated but never achieved for much more than the length of a parade. Efforts recently have focused on the pros/cons of downtown housing. This fall the AIASB undertook a design charrette, its third and most extensive, producing a 340-page booklet, “A Community Vision for Downtown Santa Barbara”. They also produced a 21-page set of overview posters from the 400-1300 blocks, showing examples of paseos, courtyards and plazas, including Housing Solutions. These have been posted for public awareness on Carrillo/State Street.

Much of the charrette-featured downtown is part of the city’s EPV that has existing guidelines, adopted May 12, 2009, pg 4 (of 84), when now City Administrator Paul Casey was Community Development Director. The most recent State Street Subcommittee meeting, December 21, agendized the parklets, with an interesting focus on design standards. The 2021 meeting schedule is not yet posted but they have been held biweekly, Fridays, at 11am. 

CPA has not been involved in this fascinating process except, in November, to welcome AIA representatives and Committee Chairs Cass Ensberg, FAIA, and Detlev Peikert, AIA, to our first renewed, by Zoom, Speakers Series presentations. Undoubtedly, 2021 will bring an intense focus on State Street by city commissions, HLC, PC, and the council. And we, the public!


De La Guerra Plaza re-imagined

More than a year of studies; a total of 8 meetings, choosing in busy schedules and Covid-19 requirements to meet by Zoom on Fridays at 8:30 AM, the De La Guerra Plaza Revitalization Design Advisory Committee concluded its efforts on December 18 with a hearty round of congratulations! 

The two early meetings were not televised; all the others have been and are available on the city website. They’re eye-openers. The March 26, 2019 city council meeting was the official kickoff with item 14, Administrative Reports Public Works Department: $300,000 to cover the cost of the consultant, preliminary environmental review, and possible additional archaeological investigations. There was a lot of public comment, but much of it had to do with the location of the farmers market and the new police station. At that same meeting was the public hearing on 711 N. Milpas which sucked much of the public’s energy away from De La Guerra Plaza. 

On the 18th, the committee recommended moving the Concept Plan out of the Committee to the City Council with several findings, acknowledging that De La Guerra Plaza “celebrates and honors the historic heart of our city and provides the flexibility to serve our community’s (diverse qualities.)” For the complete statement, click here

Members of the committee included: two from the city council (Harmon and Sneddon, chair) two from the planning commission (Reed and Wiscomb, vice chair), two from Parks & Rec. (Longstreet and Perry), two from the HLC (Drury and Hausz) and one representing the Trust for Historic Preservation (Exec. Dir. Anne Petersen). (The official roster lists Jay Higgins from the PC, but Reed has participated in recent meetings. SB Farmers Market’s Sam Edelman is listed, since part of the initial undertaking was to consider the Plaza a location for the Market; that changed, with the recognition of many negatives of that location for the Market; he has not attended recent meetings.) 

Except for Petersen and Edelman, there were no members of the non-governmental public; no members on the roster representing any of the several organizations in the city concerned with and long-dedicated to historic preservation, none from adjacent property owner stakeholders, except those governmental members affiliated, broadly, with City Hall. Nor were there landscapers or horticulturalists except those associated with the California design firm RRM that the city hired to present the designs. (An important consideration is or should be the remaining very tall and old palm tree that will have to be dug up and moved to accommodate the committee’s desired splash pad. There was little to no mention of how that moving will be done.) 

First and foremost, the Plaza is in the historic center of Santa Barbara.* At its north end is the plaque (DE LA GUERRA PLAZA, 1850-1950) reminding, “At this site, August 26, 1850, two weeks before California statehood, duly elected common council, city of Santa Barbara, held first official meeting. …still center of city’s governmental activities. ….”  

It’s also been the site of Fiesta Mercados and of kick-off resident gathering places for protest and public demonstrations. Few Santa Barbarans, perhaps, have thought of it as another park with amusements to draw tourists and residents from State Street. Over the recent years, houseless folk have welcomed the quiet; as a foil, the benches have been removed, the grass allowed to wither and now comes the design review committee. Considered (and approved) are hardscape pavement and lights and planters and rows of decorative trees and, what is certain to be the main feature, a splash pad at the south end; the Plaza will be somewhat expanded with the removal of 35-40 parking places to accommodate these features. 

But this is only the second step in the process. The DLGPR Advisory Committee received and mostly approved RRM design concepts. It did not deal with costs. The $300,000 was but the first drop in what is estimated to be $3 million to come from “Measure C** and other (not described) sources.” Nor did committee members make the decision(s) about what actually should be there. That will be for the City Council. 

There will certainly be opportunities for the public to participate in what shall become of this central and so very important public and historic space that belongs to all of Santa Barbara, not just State Street visitors and downtown residents. 

Project Manager Brad Hess will speak via Zoom to CPA on Monday, January 4. We intend to send an announcing CPAR, or email CPA for access details:

* Informative references include: SANTA BARBARA, A GUIDE TO EL PUEBLO VIEJO, revised and updated 2nd edition, 2016. La Campana, winter 1998-99 and also La Campana, Summer, 1999. These are quarterly publications of The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

**Measure C, was a very controversial ballot measure of November, 2017, a sales tax increase of one cent to 8.75%; from the ballot measure: “to maintain and repair critical infrastructure, including Police, fire, and 911 emergency medical response; • local streets, potholes, bridges and storm drains; • neighborhood fire stations/public safety infrastructure; • parks, youth/senior services; • address homelessness; • help retain local businesses; • support other general services”

Vision Water

Five workshops for stakeholders, four Water Commission meetings, several Council presentations and the innovative, at least for Santa Barbara, Vision Water process wound up with a presentation to the City Council on December 15. Unfortunately, it was part of a more than 8-hour-long meeting and so it did not get the public attention it deserved. 

As we noted in our last CPAR, the Water Department deserves much praise for their outreach process: for involving 27 public stakeholders, including CPA, in its workshops rather than ubiquitous city commission members; for asking opinions and then paying attention to what the stakeholders said. An example of this last was how the department wove into the new plan a social justice component. This was on request of some of the stakeholders who stressed that equitable access, including affordability, is an important component of access to the public resource.

There were 5 stakeholder (via webinar) workshops, starting with where and how the city gets its water and concluding on December 10 with a presentation of what’s been covered and how that works into the 30-year plan, the Enhanced Urban Water Management Plan or nearly unpronounceable EUWMP, building on the 369-page 2015/16 UWMP.

The new water supply and management plan exceeds the state requirements and will be reviewed every 10-15 years. Water Resources Manager Joshua Haggmark, and Dakota Corey, Water Supply Analyst for the City, explained that for the first time the city’s water supply has been evaluated on a triple bottom line analysis: economic, social equity/quality of life/community values, and environmental impacts and benefits.

Santa Barbara is particularly fortunate in having a diverse portfolio of water resources, from lakes Gibraltar and Cachuma, groundwater, state water, and most recently desalination. 

According to the EUWHMP, the latter is an integral element of the city’s water supply portfolio, an “active” participant, for drought preparedness and drought recovery. 

At the December 15 Council presentation, Councilmember Eric Friedman asked about state’s housing mandate (RHNA) of zoning for approximately 9.300 housing units and was assured by Mr. Haggmark that the demand analysis has incorporated this zoning requirement. Councilmember Sneddon asked for clarification of the “active” role of desalination and was assured that it meant that desal was an essential part of conservation: as supplies diminish, demands increase and desal is part of a diversified water portfolio. A key recommendation is for adaptive management. 

The Stakeholder participation is near finished, but the Water Vision process will continue with presentations to the water commission and again to the council and, importantly, public presentations. The website page Project Resources is particularly informative.

Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan

Santa Barbara City’s 9-member Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan Subcommittee, chaired by Councilmember Kristen Sneddon, met relatively briefly on December 7 for the final time in 2020 and supported the Adaptation Plan, as presented and revised. Over the last year plus, subcommittee’s role was “to provide guidance” to staff in its preparation of the plan and to recommend potential responsive actions. 

The Adaptation Plan and preceding Vulnerability Assessment are here. Not all the Subcommittee meetings were televised; the four that were are available here. No public meetings are presently scheduled. The subcommittee members agreed that the subcommittee may be useful in the future for helping with public awareness so that it should continue. Come spring, there may be public updates. 

The Plan is expected to be implemented in 2021. For information contact Community Development staff member, Melissa Hetrick, who is the primary contact:  

Special Attention!!

Notice of a Public Hearing: 

PUBLIC HEARING: APPEAL of Staff approval Development Plan Amendment for the Amity Project [Starbucks] on Calle Real at Turnpike [Second District]

Santa Barbara County Planning Commission; Wednesday January 13 Time TBD 

BACKGROUND: Overall project was approved in 2016 with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and Development Plan (DVP) for Starbucks and 3 other businesses.  Developer subsequently received staff approval via Substantial Conformity Determinations (SCD) for expanded square footage, increases height and basement addition, and a reduced number of stores to 3.

CURRENT ISSUE: Starbucks opened in early 2020. The impact of the drive-through line has been tremendous – blocking bicycle lane and sidewalk on a regular basis, often with a line of cars winding around corner and backed up towards 101 exit.

POLICY QUESTION: Ask Planning Commission to DENY Development Plan amendment to add a fourth business; WHY: Due to the impacts of overflowing drive-through line, PC cannot now make finding that the project has “no new significant effects…no new information of substantial importance that shows project will have significant effects not [previously] discussed.”

PHOTO on Calle Real at Turnpike, vehicles queueing in the bike lane

__via Marell Brooks

May 22, 2020