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Local News

Marriott Hotel Project Sent Back to Drawing Board — Again

Despite plan revisions, developers have yet to pass muster with Goleta's Design Review Board

Proponents of the embattled Marriott Residence Inn project in Goleta returned for another go at their proposed extended-stay hotel Tuesday at Goleta’s Design Review Board meeting. But they were sent back to the drawing board.

What was once a 140-room hotel was redesigned to occupy a smaller area at the 6300 Hollister Ave. address, via the relocation of some rooms and the elimination of others. According to the project’s planners, the building was set back another 22.5 feet from its Hollister Avenue frontage, and third-floor elements were modified to give the hotel a smaller profile against the mountain views north of the city.

Tuesday’s conceptual review came after years of wrangling among the applicant; rival hotel operators, who feared the competition to their bottom line; city officials, who expressed interest for more hotels in the area; environmentalists, who decried the effects of the project; and members of the local Chumash community, who protested the disturbance of known ancestral sites.

The hotel previously came close to moving forward, only to be withdrawn by the developer because of a lawsuit levied by members of the Chumash community represented by local land-use attorney Marc Chytilo.

Despite progress made by the current design, which is still three stories high but complies with the 35-foot height maximum in the city’s building policies, members of the public expressed lingering skepticism about the project. Three choices — A, B and C, which vary slightly in design and room count — were offered to the Design Review Board as alternatives.

“We’re a little disappointed that the plans today look like the plans of a few years ago,” said attorney Anna Citron, who works with Chytilo on land-use cases.

Local development watchdog Gary Earle said the design “just nibbles at the corners of the building.”

The most vocal commenter Tuesday, however, was Design Review Board planning chairwoman Cecilia Brown, irritated at the design’s apparent lack of deference for Goleta’s typically low-profile community character.

“Our community character is important and should be expressed by how your project fits into the community, not how our community fits your project,” she told the applicants. “Once this building is built, that’s it. We lose the view of the mountains.”

The mountain view along the Hollister corridor is designated a scenic view in Goleta’s General Plan.

As for the applicants, representing developer R.D. Olson, tweaking the hotel’s dimensions continue to be a challenge. They maintain that they need the rooms to remain a feasible operation, given land costs. A two-story building, they say, would result in a larger ground footprint.

The discussion of cultural resources or potential cuts to the bottom line of other hotels in the area did not come into play Tuesday, but at least one representative from another local hotel and Chumash spokesman Frank Arrendondo attended Tuesday’s meeting and took notes.

The project’s developers will return to the Design Review Board on Feb. 9 with a fourth option, which will involve more work with the hotel’s southwest third-story element.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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