County Supervisors to take up appeal of Summerland helistop
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday to discuss an appeal by hotelier Patrick Nesbit, who is seeking approval for a private helicopter landing pad in Summerland.
Mr. Nesbit, who founded, chairs and serves as the CEO of Windsor Capital Group, filed the application on behalf of Carpinteria Valley Farms. He is seeking a conditional use permit and coastal development permit to authorize operation of a helistop with one landing zone to be used for personal use and emergency services. The landing zone would consist of a 25-square foot plastic tarp located in the center of the 20-acre property that would temporarily be placed prior to landing and removed following take off.
Personal use of the helistop would be limited to a maximum of two times per week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Emergency responders would be able to use the helistop on an as-needed basis depending upon the nature of potential emergencies.
The helicopter used by Mr. Nesbit would take the ocean route as opposed to the mountain route in order to avoid potential disturbance to residences. There would be no refueling or maintenance at the proposed landing zone and the project does not propose any construction.
The project was scheduled for a hearing before the Planning Commission in June 2019, though it was continued until September to allow review and response to the approximately 200 letters submitted from the community in opposition of the project. Prior to the September hearing, the applicant revised the project description to propose one landing zone, as opposed to two, and adjusted the hours of operations.
At the September hearing, the commissioners directed staff to return on Nov. 7, 2019 with findings for denial and the project was denied.
Mr. Nesbit asserts that the denial is inconsistent with the county’s zoning ordinance and other laws and there was no substantial evidence to support the denial. He also said there was a lack of fair and impartial hearing, according to a staff report.
The board will discuss whether to deny the appeal, thus denying the project.
Several community members wrote the commissioners speaking out against the proposed project, with many saying it would open the door for similar permits in the future.
“This would certainly change the character of my neighborhood and likely lead to diminution of my property value,” wrote John Genovese, of Montecito.
“The noise and danger are obvious to even the most casual observer, and you would be setting a horrific precedent that will then lead to other of our neighbors asking for helicopter permits,” wrote Tom and Amelia Mullaney, of Santa Barbara.
“It is hard to understand who would think that landing helicopters in a residential area would be reasonable behavior,” wrote Susan Viniar, of Carpinteria. “Anyone who can afford to arrive in a helicopter can land at an airport and take a car to their property.”
Also on Tuesday, the supervisors will set a hearing to consider recommendations regarding the county Planning Commission’s recommended ordinance amendments to the county land use development code and the coastal zoning ordinance to implement new development standards and permit requirements regarding certain commercial cannabis activities.
The board previously considered setting a hearing June 2 and 11.
In other business, the board will receive a COVID-19 update and provide direction as appropriate.
Also Tuesday, the board will receive an update on the progress of the county’s energy and climate action plan goals in the development of the 2030 Climate Action Plan. The board will be asked to approve an agreement with Rincon Consultants for $516,235 for climate action planning services.