About AUD Amendments, a letter to the City of SB planning commission

October 7, 2019

RE: Planning Division Staff Report of October 3, AUD Amendments

To the Planning Commission:


          Citizens Planning Association representatives have been following the process of the AUD since its origin and share with most of the community the opinion that there’s a critical need for housing, affordable housing. We hoped that this AUD program would help that and appreciate there is a review process underway. We have several comments.


          Changes to allowable densities: We support the density decrease for Milpas, but we are very concerned, on several levels, about the increase for the CBD and its perimeter areas. Increasing the density for State Street from the CBD to Mission Street needs to be reexamined. Adjoining the parcels that front State Street, from E. Valerio to Mission, on the east side of the street, are single-family zoned neighborhoods; what will be the effects on those occupants and have their opinions been solicited?


          We are especially concerned about the effects on historic resources in the CBD. This is the location of the El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park and numerous designated historic buildings, the core of historic Santa Barbara. To have that area proposed for increased density to High and Priority Housing Overlay is a mistake. Protecting historic resources has proven to be very problematic in this crucial, world-famous central area. 800 Santa Barbara Street and E. de la Guerra Street are prime examples.


            We note, “Designated historic resources would continue to be protected from proposed redevelopment through existing policies and environmental review.” (pg. 11 of the staff report) The increased density and Overlay directly contradicts this. In addition, “existing policies” need strengthening, not weakening.  Also: Exhibit H regarding the city general plan does not include references to the Historic Resources Element.


          Section lV Public Workshops. CPA representatives attended both the April and the July workshops. We agree the attendees were “only a small segment of the community and not necessarily an equal representation of the diversity of the population.” That was particularly so for the April meeting, but the July meeting used the prior comments as a base for the maps, etc., bringing to mind the old saying, “garbage in, ….”


          It is a significant problem how to inform and get opinions and build from that informed opinion. It’s especially important for these AUD amendments which will have the maybe unintended result of changing many neighborhoods and the community.


          We have other concerns re parking, unbundling, height increase. For instance, it’s a matter of opinion whether 9-10’ ceilings “increase livability”. Perhaps that’s so, for some, but maybe not for the average 5’9” male Californian. And higher ceilings would increase energy costs for heating/cooling. Basically, we oppose ordinance change creep: the 45’ limit should be retained.


          We agree that FARs and other maximum unit sizes could be established in consultation with boards, commissions, and community groups —- and we request that Citizens Planning Association be part of these consultations.


Yours sincerely,


David Landecker

Executive Vice President, Citizens Planning Association

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