Monday, February 19 , 2018, 2:39 pm | Partly Cloudy 57º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Miramar Hotel Clears Another Hurdle with Approval from County Supervisors

Changes address concerns about parking and fire access, leading to unanimous support from the board

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday gave its unanimous blessing to project changes for the Miramar Hotel, which developers hope will more easily attract financing — the last step to turning it into reality.

The Miramar Hotel, slated for South Jameson Lane in Montecito and put forward by developer Rick Caruso, received approval from the Montecito Planning Commission last month. Commissioners took issue with the project’s parking and fire access, and on Tuesday, supervisors signaled that they were satisfied with Caruso’s efforts to deal with those concerns.

The fire issues have been resolved, with the Montecito Fire Protection District signing off on the improvements, and concerns about parking issues came up twice during public comment.

Last month, commissioners said parking was still inadequate and voted to suggest to county supervisors that the number of spaces be increased by at least 30.

Matt Middlebrook, senior vice president of development for Caruso Affiliated, gave the same presentation Tuesday that he had given to the Montecito Planning Commission last month. He stressed that the company had gone before the Montecito Association 14 times, in addition to dozens of community meetings. Concerns were also raised at February’s meeting about noise that might affect neighbors to the project’s restaurant, and Middlebrook said the restaurant and bar have been relocated to address those concerns.

“It reduces any potential impacts,” he said, as well as giving the fire department easy access.

Elimination of the ballroom building and tennis courts on the project’s eastern property are among the changes and were replaced with a heavily landscaped surface parking lot. The move allowed the group to eliminate one of the two levels of underground parking. Caruso’s team said the approach would reduce the visual impacts from Jameson Avenue, and that the lot would have a permeable surface to eliminate stormwater runoff.

Other changes include an increase in open space and significant reductions in square footage, required height variances and number of rooms, which would drop from 192 to 186. A new pool restaurant would serve as a three-meal eatery, and the amount of the project’s retail space would be reduced.

Middlebrook said the project’s gross square footage would be 120,000 square feet less than the original, and there would be a reduced elevation of buildings lining Jameson Avenue.

County Supervisor Joni Gray asked one question that hadn’t come up before: How much bed tax would the county lose by eliminating the six extra rooms?

“I want a project that generates funds for the county,” she told Middlebrook.

In response, Middlebrook said that anything would be better than what’s on the property now. The rooms were smaller that were eliminated, so the amount of tax most likely would be nominal.

“We hope anything’s better than what we have out there now,” he said.

The project is approved for 200 beach club members, but that may increase to 300 if the Montecito Planning Commission revisits the project and says there haven’t been any parking problems in the area.

Middlebrook brought up the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, saying the facility has more rooms but less parking than would the Miramar Hotel. That answer wasn’t enough for Supervisor Janet Wolf.

“It’s impossible to find parking on the street (at the Biltmore),” she said. “This is an issue of 30 spaces.”

In the end, Wolf seemed convinced that the Montecito Planning Commission would deny the request to increase beach club members if parking became a problem.

Supervisor Salud Carbajal said that though he entered the meeting ready to take issue with a few items, he was ready to move forward.

“I have not heard any noise from the First District,” he told Middlebrook. “The community wants it built.”

The mood was celebratory after the meeting among Caruso and his colleagues.

“We are very appreciative of the community’s patience and continued support,” he said. “It’s our goal to reward that support by building a great hotel, one that Montecito will proud to call its own.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >