Nearly a month after the Santa Barbara City Council heard an appeal of a Planning Commission denial of a 32-room hotel project proposed for West Montecito Street, a revised project will be brought back for council consideration Tuesday.
On Nov. 19, the council delayed its decision on the appeal of the Planning Commission’s rejection of the proposed project at 302 and 308 W. Montecito St. During that meeting, the council voted 4-3 to ask the developer, Ed St. George, return with a revised project.
Council members Kristen Sneddon, Eric Friedman, Oscar Gutierrez and Meagan Harmon were prepared to reject Mr. St. George’s appeal, largely on the grounds that the project would take up space for potential affordable housing. The delay came at the suggestion of Councilman Jason Dominguez, who, along with Councilman Randy Rowse, expressed concern at the frequency of appeals and the lack of a clearly defined development process.
“I think we need to come up with a plan real soon so we don’t scare off other businesses,” Mr. Dominguez said at the Nov. 19 meeting. “We need revenue to pay our bills, to have the amenities and services that we have, to serve our waterfronts, our parks, our streets and other infrastructure. So, I hope we come forth with a plan in terms of how we deal with this crisis.”
The project presented to the council last month included the demolition of an existing four-unit apartment building, merger of two lots and the 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.
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 development plan for the transfer of existing development rights could be made.
In its denial, the Planning Commission found that demolition without replacement of four existing housing units 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 revised plan is expected to resolve issues with the size, bulk and scale of the building, modify the architecture, and offset the loss of housing with a proposal to build four units of similar configuration somewhere else in the city.
If the council supports the revised project, staff will return with findings upholding the appeal, including conditions of approval. The project would then be required to return to the Architectural Board of Review for consideration of the project design and final approvals.
In other business Tuesday, the council will take up an interim urgency ordinance to extend the application of the city’s existing accessory dwelling unit ordinance beyond Jan. 1, as well as receive an update on the city’s bicycle share pilot program.
In addition, the council will hear an appeal of the Single Family Design Board’s decision to deny a new standing seam metal roof in the 300 block of Alston Road. The council will hold a special meeting Monday to conduct a site visit to the location.
Tuesday’s regular meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.