August 27, 2017
To ABR members:
Since 1960, the Citizens Planning Association has studied land use issues in Santa Barbara City, attending meetings, interviewing project neighbors and researching. For this concept hearing on 302&308 W. Montecito Street, we have reviewed earlier ABR Concept Review videos, walked the neighborhood, and interviewed available prior and present neighbors.
We do not think that this proposal satisfies the ABR project compatibility analysis requirements as enunciated in M. C. section: 22.68.045 §s B.2-4. It is not compatible with the Architectural Character of the City and Neighborhood, specifically,"the desirable architectural qualities and characteristics that are distinctive of Santa Barbara and of the particular neighborhood surrounding the project." (§ B.2) This is a mixed commercial/residential neighborhood adjoining a proposed historic district and near City Landmarks; the proposed architecture is hard to describe, resembling Isla Vista Contemporary rather than a Santa Barbara style.
Nor is the size, mass, bulk, height and scale (§ B.3) "appropriate for its location and (this) neighborhood." This "boutique hotel" will loom over the adjacent one story residential cottages, acting as a wall, bouncing back pollutants from the freight trains that idle frequently along the adjacent tracks, endangering the health of residents. Nor is it appropriate to the adjacent businesses, the car wash across Bath Street, the popular one-story neighborhood Brewhouse restaurant/bar diagonally across Montecito Street, and the one story Cottage Residential Center/Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment, next door at 316 W. Montecito Street.
Most importantly also, it also does not satisfy the requirement of § B.4, showing no sensitivity to the adjacent historic resources, e.g., the Trussell Winchester Adobe and the Fernald House, barely if even one tenth of a mile away. It's an easy stroll to the historic S. P. Railroad Station Depot, to the Los Banos del Mar. It's not much more than across the street from a delightful, walkable low-rise and charming neighborhood of inns, small hotels and residences, some of which, including those mentioned here, are pictured in Santa Barbara, a Guide to El Pueblo Viejo (2016).
An important requirement is the General Plan's Historic Resources Element:
HR 2: "Ensure respectful and compatible development. Seek to ensure that all development within the City respects rather than detracts from individual historic and archaeological resources as well as the neighborhood and the overall historical character of the city. Assure compatibility of development, respect for the historical context of historical resources, and consideration of sustainable design alternatives where compatible." This proposal, in our opinion, is neither respectful nor compatible with its would-be neighborhood or city.
We have additional concerns that are perhaps not within ABR's purview but should be noted. For examples:
—Most disturbing is the demolition of the four-unit apartment building that provides much needed housing for low-income families.
—The water table in this area is near the surface: the continuing and well-known rebuilding of the Castillo Street underpass proves that! This would seem an inappropriate location for underground parking. And as for surface parking, there is not enough now for the present commercial usages, many of which use the open space at 302-308 W. Montecito, Cottage Hospital, the Berry Man, Inc, for instances. The 10 parking spaces allocated for 311 W. Montecito Street seem insufficient for the 10 units planned there.
For these reasons, especially the lack of compatibility considerations and the proximity with the proposed adjacent historic district and existing historic Landmarks, we urge that this design not be approved.
Executive Director, Citizens Planning Association