CPA Has Concerns over Loss of Affordable Housing

August 12, 2019

To: City of Santa Barbara Planning Commissioners

Re: 302 and 308 W. Montecito St. (PLN2016-00426)

Citizens Planning Association has reviewed the staff report. Our board members are familiar with the West Beach area, generally, and the 302/308 site and environs, specifically. Board members also attended some of the ABR hearings and wrote to the ABR in 2017 about size/mass/scale and compatibility concerns.

We have no opinion about the Transfer of Existing Development Rights requirement, except to note that we think that the TEDR specifications should be reconsidered to have like for like: it is impossible to find that the originating Sandman rooms would bear any similarity to this proposed project. But we know that that is not a present requirement.

We are disappointed that the Staff Report recommends a finding that this large project is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. In our opinion, it is not. We believe the “surrounding neighborhood” includes the gentle one- and two-story West Beach area of single-family cottages, a classic California style-beach area style with a mix of Spanish and Spanish/Mission designs. (It also, of course, includes a car wash, Amtrak tracks, and the US 101 but these usages, as perceived from in front, on W. Montecito Street, are not dominant.)

What impress are the charms of the West Beach style residences, including the abutting three small well-cared for cottages. The “surrounding neighborhood” also includes the nearby historic structures, the Mission Revival Style Southern Pacific RR Station to the east, the, to the west, Trussell-Winchester Adobe and the Fernald House, both in the 400 W Montecito Street block. These all form the neighborhood to which a new building should conform, especially an hotel that aims to attract visitors to Santa Barbara.

This is an especially hostile design to the immediate neighbors, sun-blocking, looming over the rental cottages, with a mechanical parking apparatus a few feet away from bedrooms. We also think it unfortunate, and unnecessary with a more appropriate design, to remove the two mature eucalyptus trees, frequented by the increasingly threatened Monarch Butterflies. We question the need for two lounges PLUS an extensive rooftop use that makes the building seem much taller than the tallest buildings on the block (or area.) Nor is it compatible with the 24-bed Cottage Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program that’s next door in the lovingly restored West Beach Hotel-styled one-story building.

The parking provided will be inadequate for the 32-room hotel with its included 1,670 sq ft (!) coffee shop and likely to aggravate an often difficult neighborhood parking situation.

We are especially concerned about the loss of low income/affordable housing. The four units that will be demolished have provided housing for an estimated 12-14 people. Santa Barbara used to be a city that welcomed all or, at least, most demographics. Increasingly, even as low-income jobs proliferate with the emphasis on welcoming tourists, low-incomed families and workers, are out of luck for decent housing. This project adds jobs and removes affordable housing! Shouldn’t that consideration be part of good planning? We think it should.

This is a design that WILL “have a significant adverse impact” (Compatibility Analysis, SBMC, §22.68.45(B)(3).) It is neither compatible nor appropriate for the West Beach area, nor with the immediate surroundings. We request you send it back to the ABR for a redesign, with instructions that take into consideration the near and extended neighborhood.


Marell Brooks, President of Citizens Planning Association

916 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (805) 966-3979

916 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (805) 966-3979


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