Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 6:42 pm | Fair 73º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara Council Approves Putting Veronica Meadows Development Proposal on June Ballot

The 25-unit housing project needs a bridge built over Arroyo Burro Creek on city-owned park land, which requires voter approval

A key part of the Veronica Meadows development project will go before Santa Barbara voters on the June ballot.

Developer Mark Lee plans to build 25 houses off Las Positas Road, in the area across the street from Elings Park, and the access road needs a bridge built over Arroyo Burro Creek.

The private bridge requires voter approval since it would pass over city-owned park land, a judge determined in a lawsuit between Lee and the Citizens Planning Association.

The Santa Barbara City Council voted Tuesday to approve including the issue in the June 5 election. City Attorney Steve Wiley will write an impartial analysis to include in the sample ballot sent to voters, and Lee will reimburse the city for the $78,000 in election costs.

The “park” land is undeveloped, and the City Council has never voted to pursue making those 5.89 acres a park, but Wiley said it is zoned that way.

The City Council won’t submit arguments for or against the ballot measure, so it’s likely the arguments will be written by Lee and the community groups opposed to the measure, respectively.

This election is the last significant step in the 13-year process for Lee, according to his attorney, Steven Amerikaner. Lee will pay for the bridge construction and creek restoration, but Amerikaner said that if the ballot measure fails, they’ll have to consider alternatives such as going through the nearby neighborhood for the main access road.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Lee said his project “can’t be anything but a poster child for responsible development” with the amount of review required.

The Citizens Planning Association and the Urban Creeks Council have opposed the project, and attorney Marc Chytilo called placing the item on June’s ballot “deplorable” since there most likely will be a smaller voter turnout.

He said Tuesday that there’s a long-term cost for the city from maintaining the bridge and road since it will partly be on public land. He said the groups are likely to stay involved for forming ballot arguments and educating voters about the proposal.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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