Decision comes after likely defeat of Measure T
The Carpinteria City Council has voted to terminate a lease between the city and Marla Daily for a parcel of land that could be used for permanent parking should the proposed Surfliner Inn be approved by the city.
The council voted 4-1 Monday to give Ms. Daily 30 days’ notice that the city wishes to terminate the lease. Vice Mayor Al Clark voted against Councilmember Gregg Carty’s motion to end the lease.
Ms. Daily did not attend the council meeting.
Although Measure T was not mentioned, its likely defeat clears the way for the city to continue its review of the proposed Surfliner Inn, a two-story boutique hotel slated to be built on half of a public parking lot (Lot No. 3) in downtown Carpinteria.
Measure T proponents sought to block its construction by passing the measure, which would have changed the lot’s zoning to open space/recreation. One of the founders of the Vote Yes side was Marla Daily, which Measure T opponents said amounted to conflict of interest because she would lose the parcel she now leases from the city.
As it stands, opponents of the ballot measure have a 79-vote lead in defeating the ballot measure, 2,532 to 2,453. Santa Barbara County still needs to certify the results to make them official. The deadline for certification is Dec. 8.
The city of Carpinteria halted its review of the proposed hotel once Measure T qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot. If the measure loses, the Surfliner Inn review will continue.
Vice Mayor Clark beat Councilmember Carty in the Nov. 8 election to retain his seat on the council. And although he never came out in favor of Measure T, he was the only council member not to sign a resolution urging residents to vote against it, ostensibly because they wanted elected officials to continue to make land-use decisions for Carpinteria rather than voter-led ballot measures.
Ms. Daily, as director for Uppo’s Garden LLC, had negotiated a lease with Union Pacific Railroad in 2004. The city acquired the parcel in December 2013, and renegotiated a month-to-month lease with Ms. Daily in May 2014 for her to use a 45- by 350-foot portion of the parcel at 399 Linden Ave. for a hobby garden. She was paying $150 a month, but that’s been increased to $172.84 monthly.
The lease allows either side to end the lease with or without cause upon giving 30 days’ notice.
Councilmember Carty said that time is now, but Vice Mayor Clark questioned the rush.
“Is there a pressing need to terminate the lease immediately?” he asked Matthew Roberts, Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities director.
“There is no immediate need,” Mr. Roberts responded.
But Councilmember Carty was adamant, saying it’s high time the lease be terminated.
One public speaker agreed with Vice Mayor Clark, noting Ms. Daily’s absence from the meeting and asking the council to wait until January.
Other speakers, though, called for the lease to end — now.
“Please end this lease,” said Jason Rodriguez, the spokesman for the Vote No group urging Measure T’s defeat at the polls, saying he and others want to be able to use a trail on the parcel.
“It should not be fenced off for one or two people’s private benefit,” he said. “This is not the first time the city has spent time on this lease. It’s never on the agenda due to positive circumstances. The current use of the property does not add any value to the city financially or visually.”
Another speaker, Carla Stein, said the lease has always bothered her, “and after what we just went through with Measure T, it bothers me even more.
“This has to stop,” she told the council. “We can’t continue to let a handful of people use this land as their own private backyard space. Clearly the time has come for Marla Daily to take down her fences, move all her belongings and surrender the land to the city of Carpinteria for the public’s use and the public’s benefit.”
The parcel Ms. Daily leases at 399 Linden Ave. sits on the south side of the railroad tracks and across from the public parking lot No. 3 at 499 Linden Ave., the proposed site for the Surfliner Inn.
The developers’ plans, still in the conceptual stage, call for the hotel to be built on half of parking lot No. 3, with the other half still available for parking, Mr. Roberts said.
However, the developers’ Disposition and Development Agreement for a portion of parking lot 3 (499 Linden Ave.) does include a provision that the lessee (Inn developer) will construct a new public parking lot on a portion of 399 Linden (where Ms. Daily now gardens). That would be intended to replace the public parking spaces lost during the hotel’s construction.
In January, the council directed staff to “prioritize work to implement a capital improvement project for a pedestrian/bicycle trail connection through the property from Linden Avenue to Holly Avenue.” In July, the Carpinteria Planning Commission granted a permit for the trail to be constructed across the property, which is scheduled for the winter of 2023.
If the Surfliner Inn is approved by the city, the developers have agreed to make improvements on the trail permanent.