The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday will hear an appeal of a Planning Commission denial of a 32-room hotel project proposed on West Montecito Street.
On Aug. 15, the Planning Commission denied the application for a three-story hotel proposed for 302 and 308 W. Montecito St. on the basis that not all the findings for the developmental plan could be made, in particular the principles of sound community planning and neighborhood compatibility.
The property owner, Edward St. George, has appealed the decision and asserts the project is compatible, according to the staff report.
“Furthermore, the appellant claims that the decision represents an attempt to amend City policy as it relates to the local housing shortage without the benefit of public input or oversight by the City Council,” the staff report reads.
The project includes: the demolition of an existing four-unit apartment building with 517.5 square feet of commercial space; merger of two lots for a combined area of 18,927 square feet; and construction of a new three-story, 30,830 square foot building with 11 surface parking spaces and a mechanical lift parking system to accommodate 33 additional spots.
The first level of the building would include the hotel lobby and office, coffee shop with outdoor patio, and parking garage. The second level would include 15 hotel rooms and a 720-square-foot lounge. The third level would include 17 hotel rooms and a partially covered patio lounge. A 1,966-square-foot roof deck would also be provided, according to the staff report.
The project was initially submitted for review in September 2016. At the time, the project included a large warehouse, restaurant and underground parking that has since been removed. The project was reviewed by the Architectural Board of Review on eight occasions. During the first six reviews, the ABR expressed concerns regarding the massing and style of the proposal. On Sept. 25, 2017, the ABR was not able to reach an agreement on a motion, so the project was continued at the applicant’s request.
The project returned with substantial revisions in February 2018 and the design was considered “acceptable and much approved” by the ABR in April 2018. The project then proceeded through the Development Application Review Team process and was deemed complete in June 2019.
On Aug. 15, the Planning Commission voted 5-1 to deny the project, saying that not all the findings for the development plan and the developmental plan for the transfer of existing development rights could be made.
In its denial, the Planning Commission found that demolition without replacement of existing housing is contrary to the city’s goals to promote affordable housing. In addition, the officials said the project would have “a significant adverse impact on the community’s aesthetics and character because the proposed modern-style architecture of the building is not appropriate or compatible with the neighborhood, which generally features Spanish-style architecture or wooden bungalows,” according to the staff report.
The City Council will visit the site of the proposed project Monday afternoon. During Tuesday’s meeting, city staff is recommending the council consider the appeal and determine whether or not the Planning Commission’s denial should be upheld. Staff also recommends that council direct staff to return with a decision and findings resolution reflecting the outcome of the appeal.
Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.