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Hotel Developer Aims to Trim Extended Stay with Goleta Design Review

Planning board will size up latest version of previously pared Marriott Residence Inn project

The proposed Marriott Residence Inn will make another appearance Tuesday before the Goleta Design Review Board, which will take up the latest version of the extended-stay hotel the Goleta City Council approved conceptually more than a year ago.

Located at 6300 Hollister Ave. across from the Santa Barbara Airport, the 140-suite hotel project has been trimmed to around 134 rooms while its developer has increased the building’s setback from Hollister by 23 feet to 130 feet. The hotel’s architects currently are working on a suggestion to modify the southwest corner of the third floor, essentially switching the locations of a room and a staircase to further open up mountain views from the airport side. Because the view of the Santa Ynez Mountains from that section of Hollister is considered a visual resource under the Goleta General Plan, the project’s 35-foot height — albeit within the city’s height limit — drew criticism from DRB planning chairwoman Cecilia Brown last month for the mountain views that would be blocked.

Should the design pass conceptual review Tuesday afternoon, however, developer R.D. Olson still faces a lengthy path to construction — perhaps no surprise, given the project’s years-long navigation of Goleta’s planning process.

In November 2008, the City Council approved a design for the hotel but only after the extended-stay project drew criticism from other local hotel owners who have been concerned in general about how a new hotel would affect their bottom lines.

Then there were issues with the hotel’s proposed plans to deal with culturally significant Chumash artifacts on the project site. Cultural resource preservationist Frank Arrendondo, who has described himself as “a most likely Native American descendant of the Chumash Territory,” sued the city on behalf of a group called Friends of Saspili, named for a Chumash village that once existed in the area. The lawsuit, which named the developer as a party, challenged the validity of the project’s mitigated negative declaration and called for a more intensive environmental impact assessment. The suit has since been dropped and an environmental impact review will be performed.

According to City Manager Dan Singer, the current project likely will draw the opposition previous iterations did, which may hinder Goleta’s desire for an extended-stay hotel within city limits. The Hollister site, traditionally used for agricultural purposes, has been designated for a hotel project under the General Plan, and Singer said there is evidence that the local market could absorb another hotel without creating undue competition for rivals.

“We would prefer to have it an extended-stay,” said Singer, adding that local tech businesses have been looking for hotels that can accommodate employees they bring to town for several days of training sessions and other business. UCSB, he said, also has expressed an interest in an extended-stay facility.

At any rate, the city is obligated to process any application for a hotel on the site. According to both the city and the Residence Inn’s backers, an extended-stay hotel is likely to create less competition for local hotels than a more standard Courtyard by Marriott, a project that has been brought up, albeit obliquely, by Residence Inn proponents.

“The (extended-stay project) would be meeting a demand that’s not being met now,” developer Robert Olson told Noozhawk.

Olson also pointed out the potential for 22 full-time jobs at the Residence Inn and a projected $225,000 a year in property tax that will go to Goleta’s redevelopment agency over 29½ years. The city also should collect an estimated $600,000 in annual transient occupancy tax.

For the Design Review Board, the issue at hand is the size of the building. To be economically viable, the project’s backers say, the hotel must be three stories tall and accommodate its current footprint. With its 750-square-foot suites, the hotel is slightly above the city’s guidelines for the ratio of development footprint to the size of the property and, as a result, it will need findings for overriding considerations to continue through the process. Should the hotel pass the DRB’s evaluation and complete its environmental impact review, the project will be forwarded to the Goleta Planning Commission for further analysis.

Click here to view the Marriott Residence Inn project summary submitted last month to the Goleta Design Review Board.

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

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