A nonprofit organization that provides treatment to adults with mental illness and substance-abuse problems wants to build a 59-foot-tall building in Santa Barbara that houses 34 studio apartments, a medical clinic and support services.
Plans call for the apartments to serve very-low-income adults living with mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorders.
In addition, would include a medical and dental clinic with a combined six exam rooms, a co-occurring disorders center, meeting rooms and support services.
“The waiting list for truly affordable housing is long in Santa Barbara, and affordable housing for the mentally ill is even more in need,” said Christine Pierron, the architect for the project.
The proposal puts two of Santa Barbara’s most important priorities in opposition.
While Santa Barbara residents and neighborhood activists typically have strong views about building heights — worrying that tall structures will destroy the special character of the city — housing activists also want more living places for the mentally ill and people who struggle with addiction.
Sanctuary Centers wants to build the project on a parking lot behind 115 W. Anapamu St. At the site currently is a two-story, 8-unit affordable-housing apartment for the organization’s clients.
The new project would retain the eight units, but demolish two detached residential units, one currently used as clinic space, and the parking lot. The proposal would provide nine commercial parking spaces, but none for the residents.
Sanctuary Centers has not formally submitted an application, but must receive an exception to the city’s height limit before moving forward.
In order for the 7-member Planning Commission to approve the exemption, it must determine that there is a community benefit to allowing the taller building.
The proposed disorders center would provides specialized counseling services for people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
Treatments include managing medication, encouraging self-care, teaching independent living skills, and helping residents develop educational, vocational and career goals.
The current on-site clinic had 4,071 visits last year, while the dental clinic had 2,059 visits. With the new facility, the number of people treated is expected to double.
Pierron said in a letter to the city that the building design would be similar to the Canary Hotel and the Lobero Theatre.
The project will also call for on-site laundry facilities, a roof deck and a community room.
“We believe this campus approach will be a great benefit to residents, providing them housing and services in one safe, centralized location,” Pierron said.
The Planning Commission meets at 1 p.m., Thursday at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.