Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 7:05 pm | Fair 62º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Council Finds Consensus, But Challenges Loom for City’s General Plan

Tuesday's meeting focused on elements involving issues such as open space and public safety, with bigger discussions await beginning next week

The Santa Barbara City Council continued to wrestle Tuesday with its blueprint for the future, even though it won’t deal with the General Plan’s most controversial elements until the fall.

Land use, housing and circulation will be reviewed Sept. 8 and promise to be challenging topics on which to reach consensus.

Tuesday’s meeting garnered plenty of discussion as well before the council gave its consensus to approve the amendments to elements on open space and recreation, environmental resources, economy and fiscal health, and public services and safety.

An ad hoc subcommittee, made up of Councilmen Frank Hotchkiss, Dale Francisco and Bendy White, has been working on the amendments since last fall and has met 15 times to come up with the changes.

Much of that conversation has revolved around residential densities and design policies, and the subcommittee accepted an offer from the American Institute of Architects to showcase a design charrette to the public, which illustrated what the new densities would look like.

Those models were shown to the public on July 16 and last Saturday, and the results of that showcase will be presented to the City Council on Aug. 2.

Discussion on highway setbacks and a requirement that nonresidential developments install facilities for electric fleets were all part of the amendments discussed Tuesday.

A handful of public speakers weighed in on the changes.

“I come to plead that you look at this document as a plan for the future,” Mickey Flacks said. “I am afraid sometimes that you look at it with the lens of today and sometimes even yesterday, and that defeats the whole point.”

Among the changes she noted was the requirement that nonresidential developments install facilities for electric fleets. Electric vehicles are the future, she said, encouraging the City Council to embrace the charging stations.

Sheila Lodge said she was concerned about requiring solar panels in historic zones.

“I think it should be left as it is, on a case by case basis,” she said. Solar panels were permitted on the new mixed-use project slated for the former Vons lot at Victoria and Chapala streets, “so it can be done,” she said, adding that it shouldn’t be a General Plan requirement.

Other concerns raised by the public included the protection of a dune area habitat near East Beach, as well as the 250-foot highway setbacks called for in the amendments.

Francisco, a member of the subcommittee, said the group worked to find compromise.

“We literally have gone through every piece of this,” he said, noting that the public added a lot to the discussion.

That there is much discussion to come wasn’t lost on White.

“Obviously we’ve set aside the biggest issues,” he said, adding that Tuesday’s issues were “peripherals.”

The next meeting on the issue will take place Aug. 2, when the council will receive a report on the design charrettes from city staff.

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.

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