Architecture Board of Review request further refinements on plans for new police station
The city of Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review wants to further refine the plan for the new police station to be built at the Cota Street commuter parking lot before it goes to the Planning Commission.
During its Monday meeting, the board voted with five yeses and one abstention to continue honing the project by addressing key issues. These included refining the station’s architecture to a traditional Spanish style more palatable to the image of a Santa Barbara civic building, and studying the portion of the parking garage proposed for the site’s Cota Street elevation to make it “less austere.” The board thought the proposed building’s overall massing and proposed height were acceptable.
According to the project’s planner, Kathleen Kennedy, the plan for the police station will go before the Planning Commission on Dec. 10, at which time the commission will determine whether the station’s height can exceed 45 feet while being less than 60 feet.
As described in the meeting’s agenda, the proposed Cota Street police station would be 53 feet high and 65,000 square feet. It would also have a 37.5-foot high, 86,000 square foot parking structure that would accommodate 244 parking spaces. Both structures will have a subterranean level.
Though the project’s massing and height were acceptable to the board, there was no shortage of criticism in other areas.
Board chair Kevin Moore took issue with the rendering’s Cota Street corner, which he said was “cold,” “austere” and “unwelcoming.”
“I don’t know that that’s what we want to put forward as the first impression of this building and of the police department,” he said.
Mr. Moore added that he wanted to revisit the project to make it more in line with the style of the surrounding area.
“Even though I’m in support of the general massing and height, I would like to see this project again and to see if it can be refined in some way to bring it more in line with the compatibility analysis list,” he said.
Board member Dennis Whelan lamented that the Cota Street parking lot was chosen for the site of the new police station given that it has no room to expand and meet the needs of the Santa Barbara Police Department as its force expands.
“The site plan is completely full and leaves no room for the inevitable expansion, so I think it’s rather unfortunate that after all the site selection, we came up with a site that just barely fits,” he said.
While he felt that the project as a whole was “headed in the right direction” and that the parking lot and station connected together nicely in the renderings, board member Leon Olson took issue with the proposed tiling by the station entrances. Due to their questionable longevity, he called them “clever, but unsuccessful for the long term.”
He said of the tiles, “It’s just such a significant element of the design and I think it makes for long-term problems about how this looks in 10 years, fifteen years, how those tiles stand up, how they collect dirt and things like that.”
Built in 1959, the current police station at 215 E Figueroa St. was constructed to hold a staff of about 85 people. The police force now consists of approximately 211 sworn and unsworn officers, so a new police station has been needed for a long time.
The new station proposed to be built at the Cota Street commuter lot is paid for by the additional 1% sales tax imposed by Measure C.