Proposed development at 630 Chapala Street in approval process
The City of Santa Barbara Planning Commission approved 6-1, with Sheila Lodge dissenting, the concept of a 39-unit mixed-use development at 630 Chapala Street — including a 2’11” extension above the city’s height limit.
The project still has multiple steps before final approval, including design review by the Historic Landmarks Commission.
If it passes, it will be the second project without resident parking approved under the City’s Average Unit-Size Density (AUD) Incentive Program. The other development is not yet under construction.
Applicant Tom Meaney, an architect, is hoping bicyclists would move into the property. His plans only include one bicycle spot per unit, which commissioners advised him to change.
Mr. Meaney appeared open to ideas, except when Chair Deborah Schwartz suggested he look into public-private partnerships.
Why? The development is going to be a family business.
“It’s a complicated enough partnership between my uncle’s family, my mom’s family, getting the 13 grandkids to agree on anything,” he said.
His grandfather owned the land when Volkswagen established a dealership, and he passed the property down.
His cousin owns the Wildcat Lounge adjacent to the property.
Commissioners and public comments had concerns the proximity to the lounge would be a problem for the residential development.
“I hope that the introduction of housing does not endanger nightlife,” Commissioner Roxana Bonderson said. “So for any reason you don’t want to live upstairs from a nightclub, then you probably have to look elsewhere for your housing.”
Ms. Lodge and Vice Chair Gabriel Escobedo said they were “interested” to see how a residential building without a parking lot would perform.
But Mr. Escobedo saw the project more positively than Ms. Lodge, who remarked that her friends once disliked living downtown for the noise.
Commissioner Jay Higgins noted that parking is an amenity, so the loss of parking should make the units more affordable.
Mr. Meaney said the loss of parking was a conscious choice to create an arcade between the development’s three separate buildings.
He harnesses light with this central courtyard and arcade design, and he also expanded ceiling height to bring an airy feel to the apartments.
The consequence is an almost three-feet intrusion above the height limit. The building is next to the old Macy’s and lacks views around it, so he justified his four-story building.
He also hopes to gather solar energy, which is improved by the taller height.
Mr. Meaney also included a rooftop deck in his drawings.
Another unique feature is live-work spaces using an existing building.
To view the project drawings, go to santabarbaraca.gov/gov/brdcomm/nz/planning/agendas.asp and scroll to “Architectural Drawings.” Select the document with “630 Chapala Street” in the name.