The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously denied an appeal of the city’s Single Family Design Board’s project design approval for expansions to a single residential unit at 160 Conejo Road.
The project gained design approval March 2, 2020, but it was appealed by neighbors Daniel and Shelley Berger who claimed several issues, including inaccurate noticing, lack of communication from the applicant and concerns with the health, safety and welfare of the property.
In a statement during the council meeting Tuesday, the Bergers said the property is not kept and poses a fire hazard and a health hazard due to lack of proper sewage upkeep. In addition, Mrs. Berger shared stories of individuals living on the property who were not permitted to live there and allegedly dealt drugs from the property.
However, Dan Dumong, who has now taken ownership of the property, said the intention of the expansions to the unit are to address these problems. The expansions include new windows and doors, upgrading existing windows and doors and new landscaping.
“The property does have a sorted past, but that was prior to our ownership,” he said. “That was hardly our doing and we should not be held responsible for that. We cleaned the debris and trash that was left from the squatters of that property to keep those people from coming back to it.”
To address the concerns of the neighbors, the council put in a request for staff to monitor the property.
“I’m deeply concerned by what appears to be a pattern of neglect that isn’t just unsightly, but truly dangerous,” Mayor Pro Tempore Kirsten Sneddon said. “The addition I have no problem with. What does give me pause is the safety aspect.”
The senior planner of the project, Irma Unzueta, assured that there have been no new enforcement cases on the property since the new ownership, and it is intended to be a single family residence.
“This is really the pathway to fixing all the problems I’ve heard about,” said council member Jim Jordan. “I hear and recognize what the neighbors are saying, but to me, this leads to making improvements.”
In other news, the council unanimously approved a one-time allocation of $50,000 to fund the Santa Barbara Better Together Fund Small Business Grant Assistance Program, which will be matched by the Santa Barbara Foundation, resulting in $100,000 to fund small businesses.
This comes after the city received $1,154,592 of coronavirus relief funds through the state.