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Opponents Form United Front Against Santa Barbara’s Building-Height Initiative

No on B coalition gathers at City Hall to outline potential effects of the height-limits measure

Measure B opponents showed up in force Tuesday to form a united front against the Santa Barbara height-limit initiative on the Nov. 3 ballot.

In a news conference outside City Hall, residents and representatives of various organizations expressed concerns about “ballot-box planning” and the impacts of the initiative if it is approved.

Thirty-five percent of Santa Barbara’s most treasured buildings are taller than 40 feet, according to SB4All co-chairwoman and affordable housing advocate Mickey Flacks. “This is not a town of two-story, flat-roofed buildings,” she said.

Many architectural icons are nonconforming, and future ones wouldn’t be built if the initiative passes, architect Joe Andrulaitis said.

Architect Detty Peikert of Peikert Group Architects created a video in which well-known downtown buildings have lines drawn across them at 40-foot heights. Among many theaters, hotels, churches, government buildings and more, some of the tallest include the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Arlington Theatre and Trinity Episcopal Church.

The petition to put Measure B on the ballot was signed by 11,581 registered voters. The group Save El Pueblo Viejo states on its Web site that lower building heights are needed to “protect public views and the small-scale atmosphere of the city.” It also says the current limit of 60 feet makes it harder to develop lower buildings and affordable housing because of increased land values.

Peikert said the proposed lower limit on building heights would prove challenging for architects. He said it’s possible to get three stories out of a 40-foot limit, but it’s tough. Most likely there would be more flat-roofed buildings so more could fit in the building envelope.

It also could be more difficult for affordable housing and mixed-use projects, said Peikert, who designed the Casas las Granadas affordable-housing project, 21 E. Anapamu St.

Concerns over the initiative’s effects include the local economy, environment and social equity.

“It’s a measure that advocates sprawl,” Peikert said.

Dave Davis, executive director of the Community Environmental Council, said the initiative “will increase our city’s carbon footprint.”

Reducing density in the downtown core would put more pressure on Gaviota and less dense neighborhoods, CEC vice president Kim Kimbell said.

“It would limit opportunity to house local workers downtown near their jobs,” Davis said.

Hundreds of millions of dollars would be lost in property values between immediate effects and potential losses, said Michael Holliday, an architect and Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce member. “It’s flawed and untimely,” he said.

The No on B coalition says “ballot-box planning” isn’t the way to go with an initiative like this. Rather, planning decisions should go through Plan Santa Barbara and have a less simplistic definition, speakers said Tuesday.

Other design considerations such as setbacks, unit size and affordability should be considered, City Councilman Das Williams said. “Good public policy is not determined by one side — it’s better to have both working together,” he said.

Efforts at getting the word out for the fall election will include workshops, phone banks and a debate.

Representatives on both sides of the height initiative will participate in a forum Sept. 9 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Workshops will target low-income families, who tend to have lower voter turnout, Pueblo executive director Belen Seara said. “Low-income voters tend not to vote in these elections,” Seara said.

Other organizations that support No on B include the American Institute of Architects’ Santa Barbara Chapter, the American Planning Association’s Central Coast Section, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, the Coastal Housing Coalition, the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County Central Committee, the Homebuilders Association of the Central Coast, the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors and Santa Barbara Community Action Network.

The mail-only election begins Oct. 5 and ends Nov. 3. Ballots can be dropped off at various locations around Santa Barbara on Election Day or mailed in any time before the deadline.

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

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» on 08.19.09 @ 04:06 AM

And if this “united front” no longer included people who make money from more and bigger buildings then how strong would this campaign be then?

» on 08.19.09 @ 05:51 AM

I’m so sick of seeing “Follow The Money” posts… these people really care about having a LIVING VIBRANT CITY and if you knew anything about the real problem (ordinances that force inclusionary housing which increase costs which forces builders have to “get it back” through “luxury units”) you would stop fear-mongering. Get rid of flawed ordinances! And remember, PEARL CHASE was part of the decision to put 60 feet in our City Charter. If it was good enough for Pearl, it’s good enough for us.

Or are you more visionary than her? I don’t think so…

» on 08.19.09 @ 08:38 AM

With the never-ending population increase how long will it be before the arguments are between those who argue that we should keep the heights limited to 100 feet and those who want it to be 150 feet?

As long as the argument is graded on the “We’re not L.A.” and “We want to preserve our small town feel” curve, the possibilites are endless.

Three words: Too many people.

» on 08.19.09 @ 10:09 AM

I believe these people are kidding themselves but we will see soon enough. 11,581 people signed the Petition. The Falcone fiasco shows how impressive that is to get that many valid City registered voters to sign. In the 2005 City election House only received 10,900 votes, Falcone 12,318. I expect Measure B to pass overwhelmingly.Whatever Mickey Flacks supports the vast majority of SB City voters will oppose.

» on 08.19.09 @ 10:23 AM

Show Me The Money! It’s always about the money. So this initiative is an over-reaction and a scapegoat. There is nothing wrong with these very interesting 60’ buildings except for perhaps Chapala One’s bulk, which from the rear, appears perhaps a bit large. That would have been an ABR and Planning commission error.  We should not punish people’s property rights because of a minor but embarrassing planning commission error.  But there are many other benefits including wide creekside setbacks and on the Chapala Street side very nice wide sidewalks. Go take a look for yourself! Oh, and please stop channeling Pearl Chase.  Perhaps Ms. Chase was not a stale and static individual.  Who knows what Ms. Chase would have thought about these buildings. Think for yourself. I did and I will Vote No on Measure B!

» on 08.19.09 @ 10:45 AM

All these ideas to restrict building heights, affordable housing and others actually force prices of real estate higher. Limit supply and prices must rise…more people are moving into Santa Barbara every year and that will drive prices even higher. 

You know…I want to live on the beach. Maybe the city will provide affordable beach housing for me by overtaxing everyone!

» on 08.19.09 @ 10:52 AM

They didn’t even cover this story, just outside their front door.

» on 08.19.09 @ 11:04 AM

I like the Arlington and the Courthouse, but think the Granada is too tall, as are a few other buildings lower on State Street.  I think the straw that is possibly breaking the camels back is the bankrupt development at Chapala and Gutierrez—that building is way to massive and out of place, regardless of what the architects claim.  Maybe if the height limits were stair-stepped back from the property lines—the courthouse isn’t 60’ tall at the edge of the sidewalk as is the Granada and similar buildings.  The development at Chap/Gut is stairs-tepped, but is still too tall.

» on 08.19.09 @ 12:56 PM

Pearl Chase was not in favor of 60 feet.

At the time her group put the existing 60 feet height limit, which was in the zoning ordinance, into the city charter it was to prevent any future city council from allowing a taller building , which the city council at the time was about to do for the 9 story high rise condos proposed for what is now Alice Keck park.

Pearl’s group was so rushed to stop this project that they didn’t have time to determine how much to lower buildings heights to so they just left them at 60 feet under the concept that the people can lower them later if the 60 feet height became a problem in the future.  So this didn’t mean that pearl liked 60 feet buildings, because she didn’t.

60 feet was no problem for the following 30 years, because only one four story 60 feet building was built each 5 year period.  But the last 5 years, suddenly there was dozens and dozens of 4 story and 60 feet proposals and those two 4 story 60 feet monstrosities were built on Chapala that the vast majority of our citizens hate and don’t want any more of.  This is why measure A was out on the ballot——-to stop our beautiful small town to be totally transformed and ruined.

I assure you if Pearl was alive she would ask you to join her is voting YES ON MEASURE A——and prevent more monstrosities like those on Chapala from ruining our charming city and it’s cherished small town character and quality of life.

» on 08.19.09 @ 01:07 PM

The reason for this “ballot box planning” is because of nit wits like Das Williams. He is quoted as saying other design considerations such as setbacks, unit size and affordability should be used.  HUH!  We have all of those considerations already.  The problem is members of the council like Williams ignored them.

Look at the non existant “setbacks” of the towering Chapala street monstrosities!  Look at the way “affordabilty” was used as a scam by developers who were allowed by the likes of Councilman Williams, to build million dollar condos because they included a few so-called “affordable” condos in the project, and “affordable” meant $200,000 to $300,00 dollars a unit and 800 to 1,000 square feet of space for a few units in the condo development.

Then there was the concept of “shared parking” to evade the City planning requirements for parking spaces. Do you remember that one. Parking requiremens is another one of those other “considerations” referred to by Williams.

That hairbrained scheme was invented by utopian planners and pin heads like Williams.  It worked like this. You only had to provide one half of the required parking spaces under existing City ordinances because the project was mixed use, that is, combined residential/commercial units.  The people who lived there would be gone during the day and the users of the commercial spaces could then come and go during the day using those empty parking spaces. Then, at night, when the businesses were closed, the residents could come home and use those same parking spaces. I wonder what happened on weekends and holidays?  Oh, and by the way, you residents who live there, BETTER NOT COME HOME FOR LUNCH OR TOO EARLY AFTER WORK.

For most of the members of the present City Council, who obviously don’t have a clue about sensible planning, “ballot box” planning is the only hope for Santa Barbara until they elect council members and a mayor that do not have some far out social agenda to push.

The next ballot measure ought to be to replace the entire transportation department includng the transportation committee who have bulbed out of their minds and engaged in “chicanery” all “around about” the city streets eliminating the alreday scarce parking and then narrowing the streets as a means to accomodate heavy traffic congestion on those same streets!    HUH!  Narrow the streets to accomodate more traffic ??  Right on ! Vote for Das Williams and ilk!

» on 08.19.09 @ 01:24 PM

No Canyonization hit the nail on the head. A static 40’ height limit is not the answer.  What about a height limit that sets an average of 40 or 45 feet, which allows more architectural freedom in design?  Or apply a lower height limit around structures that are designated Landmarks to preserve views of these remarkable buildings?  Or an average height limit per block face that allows for buildings of varying hieght on the block (although this means the last building onthe block could get screwed unless the ordinance is written to set the base average at 30’ or something similar)?  The people who support Measure B came up with an answer to the concerns about height that is too simple and may result in a City that is too uniform in height.  This is a complex issue that requires a complex answer.

» on 08.19.09 @ 01:27 PM

Finally, the sensible have organized and are now fighting back. I predicted this a year ago and it took that long to get it done. You can use all the “follow the money” and “evil developer” garbage you want Don, but the fact is the real professionals and those who are schooled in the principles of urban design are leading the fight. It is long overdue. I thank the architects and professionals who have risked the vitriol and irrational hatred the small minded in this town have used for 4 decades to impose their silly notion of urban design on this city based on a suburban mind set. I expect the usual out poring of 40 year old crap to follow.

» on 08.19.09 @ 01:39 PM

The bulk of the buildings shown - Granada, Lobero, Santa Barbara High School, Masonic Temple, Trinity Church, Victoria Street Theater (the First Baptist Church), Neal Hotel, Californian Hotel etc. - were built before the 1925 earthquake with Courthouse (1927-29) and Arlington (1931) not long after . These buildings were the exception rather than the rule as they rose over Santa Barbara. 

Note that a number of these buildings (Arlington, Courthouse, Lobero, Trinity, SBHS, Art Museum) despite their height and size are set back from the street and not presenting a solid mass blocking views and light.

For many years the jewels in Santa Barbara’s planning process were height limitations and set backs which kept a nice balance of views and open space. And, may I note though Pearl Chase gets all the credit -and I do get weary of that too - you will find in truth there were many private citizens and elected officials that were responsible for the creation of our Planning Commission, Zoning Ordinances and Architectural Board of Review immediately following the 1925 earthquake.

Over the years city councils and poor planning weakened many of the restrictions on building and the result caused the public to again push for strong and sensible planning.

The past two decades have proven a disaster as more buildings cover every square inch of land, block views and light, increase density, and create more traffic. It is time once again for the people to rise up and keep Santa Barbara the unique, beautiful, and well-planned community it deserves to be rather than just a place “not as bad as Santa Monica.”

» on 08.19.09 @ 01:56 PM

Do you want every new building to be 40 feet with a flat roof? What will SB look like in 50 years? Can’t picture it, that’s because you lack imagination. You call it a, “Canyon of Monstrosities”. I see smart growth. If you can’t imagine how the rules will impact our future, you have no business tinkering with it.

If you have any imagination or creativity you will vote no on measure B.

» on 08.19.09 @ 01:58 PM

Do you want every new building to be 40 feet with a flat roof? What will SB look like in 50 years? Can’t picture it, that’s because you lack imagination. You call it a, “Canyon of Monstrosities”. I see smart growth. If you can’t imagine how the rules will impact our future, you have no business tinkering with it.

If you have any imagination or creativity you will vote no on measure B.

» on 08.19.09 @ 02:01 PM

Baloney on “no ballot box planning”.  We can credit the very attributes of this city that we love to numerous “draconian” ballot-box measures!

Baloney on “the limit will cause sprawl, increased carbon footprint, preclude affordable housing”.  The difference in heights that Measure B would impose is a mere 15 feet - that make a huge difference in esthetics but minimal difference in what goes into the building’s interior (it would, in fact, encourage the smaller housing units, that everybody seems to be clamoring for.)
How is that 15 foot difference going to cause the environmental sky to fall? There are plenty of"low profile” very sustainable cities!

And baloney on the claim that the Measure would preclude
replication of architectural gems. That’s beyond baloney: those red lines the opponents draw mostly affect architectural features - towers, decorative elements - that Measure A would not restrict. A good architect can create as many new “gems” within the new limit as before.

It is really all about esthetics; the rest is all Red Herring distraction. And esthetics is what the Santa Barbara we know and love is - and historically has been - all about.

» on 08.19.09 @ 02:06 PM

The opponents of measure B are lying to you folks!  They know that the vast majority of the voters are in favor of lowering the height limit from 60 feet to 40 feet and so they resort to lying, and misrepresentation, in an attempt to change your vote.

Here are the real facts if measure B passes:

FACT 1:  The assistant city attorney has stated that in the event an existing building taller than 60 feet is damaged that it CAN be rebuilt and restored to its previous height.  The courthouse is a county owned building and as such is exempt from the city height limit, just like any county, stare of federal owned building is.

FACT 2: All buildings that now exceed 60 feet may remain.

FACT 3:  Measure B allows towers to exceed 60 feet.  So a building with a tall tower like the courthouse or Arlington theater can be built in the future.

FACT 4:  Measure B says that the city council can define where to measure height to.  the state building code defines the height of a building as either the height to the top of a parapet or the height to the average height of a sloped roof.  if measure B passes the council will change our height limit to conform to the building code definition and therefore sloped roofs will still be built.

FACT 5:  Numerous expert local architect’s have stated that it;s a fact that a mixed use three story building with a sloped roof can easily be built with a 40 feet height limit.

FACT 6:  It’s a fact that a four story building is not required in order to provide affordable housing.  The city of Santa Barbara Housing Authority has built thousands of affordable units here over the last 40 years and every single one of them was in a one, two or three story building.  Not one was in a 4 story building.  The reason for this is because a 4 story building is more expensive to build than a lower building. If a 4 story building was required someone should tell the City Housing Authority that what they did was impossible.

FACT 7:  It’s also a fact that if we allowed 4 story 60 feet buildings that
they somehow would miraculously provide us with all the affordable units that we need .  Because in the past we had such a 60 feet limit and it didn’t provide us with affordable housing, so it wouldn’t in the future.

FACT 8:  It is a fact that a 3 story building is more green and sustainable than a taller building.  A taller building costs more to heat and cool and uses more materials, water,  and energy to transport and construct the additional materials for a tall building.  Government studies have shown that a tall building has a larger carbon footprint than a shorter building—-in terms of energy used to construct, heat and cool and light the building.  The energy savings only comes from less driving.

FACT 9:  Yes, tall buildings somewhat reduce driving and IN THE REGION, but it’s a fact that in order to do that they increase traffic significantly in the neighborhood where the tall buildings are located.  Our downtown intersections are already near maximum capacity and tall buildings downtown would result in total gridlock downtown and so downtown merchants would lose business and customers would shop elsewhere.

FACT 10:  Measure B does will not increase sprawl.  The city has an urban limit city limit line, and it is a fact that almost all the land in the city is already built on, so there is no place in the city to sprawl.  Also since the south coast is such a desirable area and since there are 20,000,000 people living within a 1000 mile radius, the pressure, and demand, for the south coast to expand, will be the exact same whether buildings downtown are 3 story or 4 story.  Also the city of Santa Barbara has no control over what the county allows.

FACT 11:  Measure B will not make our town flat or ruin the character of it.  Just the opposite!  Measure B is needed to save and preserve it;s wonderful and charming small town character.

Right now our few existing taller buildings provide a certain character.  This character and these buildings are not going to go away.  They will still be there to provide variation in height.  New one, two and three story buildings and towers which can exceed 40 feet, will continue to provide adequate height variation and will continue and preserve our existing character.

FACT 12.  If cottage hospital needed a new 4 story building it’s a simple matter for the council to put it on the ballot for voter approval as an exception in to allow it.  the charter.  If it’s needed for the good of the community the voters will pass it.

FACT 13.  It’s a fact that lower, one, two and three story buildings, will provide much more mountain views than tall four story 60 feet ones, and also tall 60 feet buildings block the sunlight into our paseos and plazas.
Also one, two and three story 40 feet buildings have much more human scale than a 60 feet building, which has little or no human scale. 

FACT 14:  The allowed height is only lowered from 60, feet to 40 feet in the historic EL Pueblo Viejo district, so only affects a few property owners,  and the rest of the town already has a 45 feet height limit which will remain at 45 feet.  Therefore the vast majority of the property owners will not be affected.

FACT 15:  A primary goal of the city is to live within our resources.  Well it’s a fact that we have very little resource capacity left.  Its a fact that we don’t even have enough resources to build out our city to three stories.  So we don’t have the resources for more than a few four story buildings unless we took away resources from other property owners who now have 1 and two story buildings and doing so will mean that these property owners will not be able to develop their property in the future.  So to allow four story building will only mean that the first few to rush to build will use up all our precious resources.  This would result in a saw tooth character where there would be two one story buildings next to one 4 story 60 feet monstrosity, then another two one story buildings on the other side. 
This uneven skyline really would destroy the character of our town.

FACT 16:  It is a fact that we can provide for the next 100 years of growth with one two and three story buildings.  Such building heights can provide for 30,000 new units over the next 100 years. Thats 300 units per year and 6000 units over the 20 year general plan period.  The community has pretty much already agreed that we want to grow by around 2800 units over the next 20 years.  So all of our desired growth van easily be accommodated with a three story height limit.  So we don’t even need four story buildings to accommodate our desired growth rate.  Allowing four story buildings would induce and encourage a high level of population growth.  At the average 3 people per unit thats a population growth of 90,000 people.  So our 90,000 can double to 80,000 over the next 100 years just with one, two and three story buildings.  Allowing tall 4 story buildings would allow even more population growth than that   We simply don’t have enough recourses and water and traffic capacity for that many people.  And therefore allowing four story buildings goes directly against the concept of living within our resources.

Please join me, and the other 11,000 voters who sighed the petition to lower building heights, to preserve and save the small town character of Santa Barbara and our quality of life, by voting YES ON MEASURE B.

» on 08.19.09 @ 02:14 PM

The Save EPV group alleges that building housing in the urban core will increase traffic.  The urban planning facts indicate otherwise.  When you build housing near services and public transit rather than outside the urban core, the residents begin to choose alternative ways to travel and conduct their lives such as walking, biking, or riding the bus.  As a result of these alternative choices traffic is decreased. 

If you are an environmentalist that is interested in Sustainability, I suggest you educate yourself on this issue - go to the Sierra Club Website for more information.  The Sierra Club is openly critical of urban sprawl and this is what Measure B will create.

Please Vote No on Measure B

» on 08.19.09 @ 02:19 PM

Bendy White has a share in this blame. He allowed the giant buildings on Chapala that started this whole movement. Then he turns around and wants height limits. You would think someone who has served on the Planning Commission for 13 years would have done a better job at shaping the Chapala buildings that are so shocking to everyone. I don’t know how I’ll vote on Measure B because there are good arguments to both sides. Yet I know I won’t vote for Mr. White.—Eastside resident in a two-story home.

» on 08.19.09 @ 02:57 PM

Nice try, but no thanks.  Your sound bites are not nearly as attractive to me as my satisfactory reasons for voting YES ON MEASURE B. :)

» on 08.19.09 @ 03:26 PM

Finally some of you are recognizing the biggest fact of all. It is about aesthetics, what looks nice to a person. The problem with codifying aesthetics is that aesthetics is a personal and subjective thing. A 60’ building while representing massive too tall aesthetics to one person might be just right to someone else and to short for yet another person. Those whose interests in aesthetics of built environments have an eye for what makes sense. They usually follow that into a career as an architect and/or builder with a mind to bring their vision to others. The short squat horizontal vision people have had their vision imprinted on this city for quite some time and now others have spoken up and offered a different point of view.
The so called “Chapala monstrosity” is indeed a massive building for the surrounding neighborhood, yet right across the street is Paseo Nuevo. It doesn’t take much time to realize that the shopping mall dwarfs the Chapala One building. In fact other than the massively sprawling Cottage Hospital project, the Paseo is the largest land consumer downtown. Yet nary a word from the too tall too big crowd. Why? Because the mall is what suburban minded people want, low and sprawling. Lots of setbacks and stair stepping buildings are another favorite of this crowd. How long are we going to tolerate this destruction of Santa Barbara’s unique urban landscape by the country village hicks and transplants from Ventura County? Folks, I don’t mean to belittle your small village ideal image of Santa Barbara, it just has no place here and never did. Those buildings, built before the earthquake, were built for a great city that had financial, cultural and political significance at the time. The coma Santa Barbara has been in since is not her heritage but that of the conservative nearly dead who loath any change and their newbie liberal grandkids who hate anything manmade. Oh and the swarm of transplants who dragged their So Cal suburban mind set in with them.
Please look at our city from a bird’s eye view (MS Virtual Earth) and see for yourself how utterly ridiculous limits are from a more encompassing view point. To those who believe you must see mountains and ocean from anywhere in the city you contradict the idea that the city itself is the view. Then look at the whole history of Santa Barbara. You will find that “great age” and the coma period, followed by the preservation movement. Once you have walked the streets of downtown and gotten a feel for one of the few truly inspiring urban centers among the flat featureless landscape of our state typical suburban cities, I believe you will have a change of heart. You will not see the city’s taller structures as view blockers but the view itself. You will begin to understand that Santa Barbara is a city not a town, a place of great potential, not a place to go and die. You will see it is many things to many people and having the freedom to express that greatness is not only Santa Barbara’s but all of ours in this great country of ours.

» on 08.19.09 @ 04:07 PM

If you can build three stories of residences versus two stories, in a downtown mixed-use building, the cost of each residence could be 20% to 25% less. 

This is because the cost of developed land, ground level commercial / parking garage, roof and all the costs of obtaining approvals are required to be spent in either case. However you could now be dividing these same costs by 50% more residences (three residential levels versus two.)

This is also facilitated by the smaller construction cost for the third residential level which only requires an additional floor, four walls and interior finishes (the ceiling / roof is already there). 

The 40 foot height limit as proposed would limit the ability to create three levels of housing over a ground level commercial / garage in downtown mixed-use projects.

The ground level needs to provide ground clearance for a variety of utility runs under the concrete deck, a garage air exhaust system in the case of carbon emissions, and flexable tenant improvement areas in the commercial spaces.

Sites downtown mostly are not level at existing grade, but slope toward the ocean. Finished floors of course must be flat, so a maximum 40 foot constraint on the downhill grade means the uphill side of the building might only allow a 38 or 39 feet building height. 

There is an opinion that you can have people live with 8 foot ceilings, so a 40 foot height limit will still allow for four total stories including the commercial / garage.

This is difficult considering that airhandling and wet utilities need spaces to run under framed ceilings in stacked residences. This requires soffits, dropped ceilings, or space separating arches. In addition double layers of ceiling drywall is needed for fire protection, and the drywall must be hung on metal channels fastend with flexible isolators from ceiling joists for required sound insulation. There must also be space for a fire sprinkler system.

The combination of these items would in effect reduce the 8 foot ceiling height, which could be below 7 feet in areas of the residece. This is not attractive to potential buyer of a new condominium.

A sloping site mentioned above, could lower ceiling heights even further.

In reality approximately 45 to 48 feet is needed to ensure that three levels of residences can be built in a mixed-use building.

Next time you visit Chapala Street, look at the height of the mall complex, City parking garages, Verizon building and Canary Hotel. These should be referenced, in a height compatibility discussion on downtown mixed-use development.

Allowing adequate height for a mixed-use building to provide three stories of residential results not only results in more residences, but also less costly residences. This means a proposed developemnt is more likely to obtain the financing it needs to be built.

Sensitity and restrictions by site in the proximity to historical structures would still be part of the discretionary process that exists in the City. However a restrictive blanket height limit for an area as large of the entire downtown redevelopment district doesn’t seem appropriate.

» on 08.19.09 @ 05:45 PM

“Thirty-five percent of Santa Barbara’s most treasured buildings are taller than 40 feet”

Hopefully when measure B passes, these treasures will be preserved and not run over by low-income housing growth.

» on 08.19.09 @ 06:13 PM

Lisa Plowman, a person whom makes a lot of money if tall buildings are allowed,  is just plain wrong when she says smart growth four story high density buildings won’t increase traffic in the urban core.

I have carefully read numerous studies by the U.S. government Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.  They all say the exact same thing:
By locating people in the urban core instead of in the suburbs they make a few less trips and the trips are shorter so there is an overall reduction of traffic and greenhouse gasses in the overall county region.  However the fact remains that most still own a car.  It’s just that they put an average 9000 miles a year on their car instead of an average of 12,000.

To reduce traffic and greenhouse gasses in the overall region ( which is the goal of the EPA) the price to be paid is that traffic is actually increased in the downtown area where these massive projects are located.  This has to be the case because even if they used alternate transportation for half their trips they still drive the other half, including when they have to leave the downtown area. 

Therefore each new person adds some traffic and add it all up from locating every new resident downtown and the result is massive increase in traffic in the downtown area.  Also these mixed use projects contain commercial shops and coffee shops and people drive from outside the area to these shops as both employees and customers and this also adds yet more increase in traffic.  the result is total gridlock in our downtown area. 
This is very bad for business downtown as the residents not living downtown will choose to drive elsewhere to spend their money and businesses downtown will fail because they can’t afford to pay the high rents downtown.

Proof that this is true is Santa Monica.  I lived in Santa Monica 35 years ago when it was still nice like Santa Barbara is today.  I could drive from one end of it to the other at evening rush-hour in 10 minutes.  the last several years the city adopted smart growth and built a whole lot of 6 story buildings—-under the promise like Lisa Plowman is making that smart growth will reduce traffic.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Now Santa monica has total gridlock traffic congestion in the urban core and during the evening rush hour and it takes one 1 1/2 hour to drive from one end of it to the other.

Not only that, but the tall smart growth buildings totally transformed and ruined the small town character and quality of life in Santa Monica——just like smart growth will do here in Santa Barbara if we are stupid enough to adopt it and allow hundreds more 4 story monstrosities. 

So vote Yes on B, and prevent total traffic gridlock from occurring in the Santa Barbara downtown and save our small town character and quality of life

» on 08.19.09 @ 06:35 PM

“Another perspective” is wrong when he says adding a fourth story is required to reduce the cost of an affordable unit by 20%.  Just the opposite is true.

Here is why:

The model that he used to provide affordable housing is to build on the downtown land which cost double of what R-3 land costs and is in fact the very most expensive land per square foot in the entire city.  On top of that he is building it in the very most expensive type of construction.  A one, two or three story building can bve built economically but the building code requires extra fireproofing in 4 or more story construction and has expensive elevators and requires expensive scaffolding and crane work.

So saving 20% on components, such as land,  that cost double than it would if built in the R-3 zone means that it still cost 80% more than to build in the R-3 zone.

If four story building were the answer to our affordability problem then answer me why the units in these monsters are priced over $1,000,000.  They have to be sold over $1,0o00,000 due to building on the most expensive land and in the most expensive manner. On top of that, underground parking costs $100,000 per unit, and so adds yet $100,000 per unit to the cost of each unit.  Not the way to build affordable housing.  These units, with there 12 feet ceilings, are for wealthy from out of town to buy a weekend getaway and are certainly not built for the workforce or occupied by the workforce.  how many children do you see living on the forth floor?  None—families with children just don’t want to live that way.  Lets not force them to.

lets provide affordable housing for our workforce in the R-3 zone on cheaper land and cheaper construction and without the high cost of underground concrete parking garage which cost $100,000 per unit.  and in a garden courtyard style where each units can enjoy their own private yard area.  A much higher quality of life for us all.

» on 08.19.09 @ 06:44 PM

The folks standing on the steps of City Hall are the same ones who have benefitted from the development free-for-all that has gone on for the past decade or so. Front and center in the photo stands Dave Davis, who “retired” from the city planning office, then hightailed it right over to Cottage where he quietly helped that big developer get everything it wanted on two sides of town. Got approvals, then he “unretired” to supposedly green up our community. The construction and big development interests who now cloak themselves in some sort of environmentalism and faux concern about housing the masses to oppose citizens who are trying to save what’s left of this city’s legacy are opportunistic at best. And those who have been co-opted by them are just fooling themselves.

» on 08.19.09 @ 07:03 PM

The future of Santa Barbara—All the crowding of Bangalore with none of the charm.

» on 08.19.09 @ 07:11 PM

Gottcha Less. When you lived in Santa Monica 35 years ago it had way more tall buildings (and way taller) than our humble Santa Barbara. SM was also a dense urban center. Really Less you make my point by pointing out Santa Monica. I actually agree with you that we need to be careful about how much density is approved in the core. Without proper mitigation and PROPER transportation engineering it would be a disaster. But if taller buildings were OK in Santa Monica decades ago before the city was reamed by over development then it’s ok for Santa Barbara and all you and I have to do is our due diligence on how much gets done.

» on 08.19.09 @ 08:02 PM

Old friend, you are only partly right.    But wrong where it counts.

The fact is that the population of Santa Monica was exactly the same population of the city of Santa Barbara in 1970 and is the exact same population now. The only difference is one grew in a low density manner while the other grew by high density vertical smart growth.

And yes both Santa Barbara and Santa Monica had a few tall buildings back in 1970.

but you missed my two points:

In 1970 both Santa Barbara and Santa Monica had a nice character and a nice quality of life and a reasonable level of traffic congestion.  Santa Monica adopted high density vertical smart growth and Santa Barbara didn’t.

So Santa Monica allowed a whole lot of 6 story mixed use buildings to be built and Santa Barbara didn’t.

We can see the results of high density vertical smart growth.

Santa Barbara, who didn’t adopt it, remained nice and preserved it’s small town character and quality of life and reasonable traffic while Santa Monica, the same population as Santa Barbara, who adopted smart growth and allowed tall buildings was transformed and lost it’s small town character and lost its quality of life and the smart growth cause total gridlock traffic congestion.

it’s a simple question;
“Do we want to vote Yes on B and preserve our small town character and quality of life, and reasonable traffic here, or do we want to vote No on B and transform the skyline of our our town, one monster building at a time, lose our small town character, lose our mountain views, block our sunlight, ruin our quality of life and cause total bumper to bumper gridlock traffic congestion downtown where it takes 10 minutes and 4 changes in the traffic light to move one block.  All for nothing as the new units will be 85% high end units costing well over $1,000,000.

Gee, thats a tough choice!

» on 08.19.09 @ 08:17 PM

What arrogance!

Just who do you think you are?

I can tell from your attitude and your ignorance that you are in your 20’s.  Still wet behind the ears. 
and not yet developed the wisdom and knowledge that comes with age.  And even though you think you do, you really don’t know what you are talking about.

My God, Do you think Santa Barbara is so nice by accident?  It was not made nice by the likes of you but it nice because of the folks voting yes on measure B.  If we ruin it we can never get it back.  There will never be another Santa Barbara—especially with smart growth people like you around to ruin it.

The likes of you, while swell intentioned, would ruin it because you simply don’t know what you are talking about.

It is a fact that in any ecosystem that a lower population is more sustainable than a large population.

You don’t have a clue as to the amount of resources that we have available for growth.
You don;t have a clue as to the traffic congestion, and other negative impacts such as crime,  that is caused by high density vertical smart growth.

Jason, I suggest you lean about the shortcomings of smart growth before you spout off about it.  The reality is that smart Growth simply is a one size fits all solution that does not work in every community and sure will not work here.


» on 08.19.09 @ 08:33 PM

Those in favor need to take a business class, understand how the real economy works, get off the public dole, and resign your posts from the politburo.

Continuing down this NIMBY path will eventually kill all development in this town ... but then again, that would be fine with most of the supporters I’m sure.

» on 08.19.09 @ 09:13 PM

“Another Perspective”, one of the No on b Coalition,  wrote, and I quote:

“Allowing adequate height for a mixed-use building to provide three stories of residential results not only results in more residences, but also less costly residences.”

The No on B coalition correctly states that a four story building ( three stories of residential, over one story of commercial or parking ), will result in more residents.

Well I have a news flash for the No on B crowd:

The vast majority of Santa Barbara voters are in favor of a slow and controlled growth and the number of new residents that we desire ( about 150 new units for 500 new residents for a 0.5% growth rate per year—the same growth rate we have had here for the last 20 years) can easily be accommodated in one or two stories over parking or commercial.  We don’t want more new residents that that and so we don’t want the extra fourth story for two very good reasons;

1. We don’t need it

2.  If we allow it then we will get more new units and more new residents than we want.

So, “Another Perspective”,  you just gave us the best reason to vote yes on B.——  So we can control the amount of growth to the slow 0.5% per year growth rate desired by the vast majority ofd the community, and the maximum growth rate that can live within our resources.

VOTE YES ON B—-TO ASSURE SLOW GROWTH.  Remember a fourth story is growth inducing.  “Build it and they will come.” 

But the more we grow, the less sustainable we become. and the more we will not be living within our resources.

VOTE YES ON B—to keep Santa Barbara more sustainable.  As a lower population is more sustainable than a larger one.


VOTE YES ON B—- to preserve our small town character and quality of life


VOTE YES ON B—-to prevent total bumper to bumper gridlock traffic congestion downtown.

» on 08.19.09 @ 09:28 PM

I just watched that tacky video by Detty Piekert, the architect who is single handedly ruining Santa barbara with all his monstrosities.  Each monster project worse than the one before.  With friends like this Santa Barbara doesn’t need any enemies.

Half the building actually looked much better at a lower height.
it appears as if he misrepresented the red line, in the other half, by drawing it closer to 30 feet than 40 feet.
And some of the buildings are outside the EL Pueblo Viejo area where the height limit will remain the existing 45 feet.

And he cut off all the towers which are still allowed.

If one put the towers back in, and finished the buildings with a roof at the 40 feet then every single building would be more attractive than it is today.

Somebody ought to run this architect out of town.

» on 08.19.09 @ 09:46 PM

Agree with your analysis that costs per unit would be less in the R-3 zone areas of the City than the downtown area.

This is the reason that three floors of residential is needed in downtown mixed-use buildings, in order to make a project economically feasible given the higher costs.

But why not build in both areas as economically as possible, to accomomdate buyers who have different lifestyle needs.

Downtown mixed-use projects over ground level parking, can also support higher density, since surface parking or driveway / garage access does not reduce the residential building footprint as it does in the R-3 zone.

Also for the additional cost of elevators, single level units can be built versus two and three story walk-up units. These have a great appeal to younger buyers, older buyers and special needs buyers.

As you know the R-3 zone allows a maximum of three stories, not to exceed 45 feet in height. To have a 45 foot height limit in R-3 zones such as East Vicoria Street, lower Voluntaro Street and San Pasqual Street, yet to propose to limit downtown buildings to 40 feet, does raise some planning questions.

The downtown redevelopment area and Pueblo Viejo district pretty much overlap. Perhaps an historical survey should be updated to see what setbacks, building to scale considerations,etc. should be established around the historical structures and public places like the Presidio.

Where development would occur in non-sensitive areas e.g. next to older commercial uses, projects that can work economically should be encouraged.

In the redevelopment area for every $1,000,000 of new development that can take place approximately $6,500 per year can be used for City affordable housing programs. So there is an added benefit to build in the redevelopment area, in those loations where projects will not conflict with historical structures and places.

» on 08.19.09 @ 09:48 PM

AN 50 said:
“But if taller buildings were OK in Santa Monica decades ago before the city was reamed by over development then it’s o.k. for Santa Barbara and all you and I have to do is our due diligence on how much gets done.”

You just made our case for us , AN50.

Santa monica got ‘reamed” because they implemented smart growth and allowed tall buildings.

The whole purpose of reducing the height limit in Santa Barbara is so we don’t get reamed like Santa Monica. and every other city that allowed high density vertical smart growth has.

And the second purpose of measure B is so the citizens don’t have to fight every tall monster 60 feet building and don’t have to worry about a future City Council allowing tall monster five story buildings in our 60 feet height limit buildings—like the City Council attempted to do back in 1970 with the nine story towers at Alice Keck park.
the whole purpose of putting 40 feet in the charter is because the voters don’t trust the politicians and city staff—who,most of them, have a high density vertical smart growth agenda.  Remember smart growth is just another word for Growth—but a lot of it!  ( just the ticket for the No on B coalition—who all profit from growth—every single one of them.

It’s not “ballot box planning”, but rather the citizens protecting and preserving the city that belongs to them, not the politicians and city staff, who act like it is theirs to transform.  When city staff and city council get out of line, it’s time for the voters assert their power to put them in their place.  Its our city, not theirs.  And by their past and current actions, are hell bent on transforming it into a big and tall city. 

Vote yes on B.

» on 08.19.09 @ 10:44 PM

Less, we could play our old game but I prefer not to. If you have followed many of my posts here at Noozhawk, then you are aware of the criticism I have leveled at the so called “smart growth” advocates as well as the affordable housing folks. To me this is not a growth issue as I have argued many times, but one of aesthetics. I grew up in low rise communities. I don’t have anything against flat skylines where they are appropriate. But when I arrived in Santa Barbara in the late sixties (my family left the area in the 50’s) the one thing that made this city stand out and really shaped my love of urban design was its dense city like downtown with many multistoried buildings. My God, where was the tacky strip mall architecture where parking in front of the shabby stick and stucco store front was the norm? Not here, not in this city. This was a real city with square blocks and cars parked in multi level garages that actually looked like the adjacent buildings! It was beautiful and I spent the rest of my life pursuing the fine art and craft of urban design based on what I found here. But early into the inspiration was a very dark point. When developers tried to foist tacky condo towers on the city, just like those that you say ruined Santa Monica, the reaction and solution was unbelievable. The cure was not to send the developer back to the drawing board and come up with a more appropriate design but to kill the very nature of the city, its dense core with multistoried buildings. The one size fits all mentality of building height limits was to me the death of Santa Barbara’s historic heritage and its uniqueness among California cities. I realized later the city had already died financially, culturally and socially (for those who have been here long enough, you remember the empty streets and lack of cultural events past 7pm). The height limits put the city into a massive coma after it had been asleep for decades.
I don’t want the city over developed or turned into the mess that is LA. I just want it to live again. I want the urban design professionals who also live here to have the freedom to create new great structures that typifies the city’s past. Not too much to ask for is it? Not asking for smart growth, no growth or any kind of growth, just architectural excellence, the kind you will never find in government ordained limits that make no sense at all.

» on 08.19.09 @ 11:22 PM

Hey, “Another Perspective”

You are the first, and only, person on the No on on side that appears to really have a head on his shoulders.  I can tell you are a fellow architect from your comments.

And you can carry on a civil and productive conversation, with the appearance of being open to discussion and maybe some win-win compromise solutions to our housing problem.  You know, the folks on our side care as much about the housing problem as you do, but just vision a different solution that can work under the reduced height limit.

It appears as if measure B is going to easily pass.

In that event the City Council is going to change the definition of height to be defined as either the top of the parapet or the midpoint of a sloped roof. ( half way between the ridge and the eave).  This will allow 40 feet buildings to have another 5 feet for a sloping roof and a ridge at 45 feet.  Parapets will be at 40 feet.  And under measure B towers are still allowed to exceed the height limit.

Please consider this:

How about Commercial in the front with a 15 feet high ceiling with two stories of market residential on top with 9 feet ceilings.  Then parking garage in back with a 8 feet ceiling ( adequate for cars)  and a podium ceiling and then three stories of small 1000 sq., ft affordable workforce units residential can fit on top with 8 feet ceilings and a sloped roof all in the 45 feet allowed to the ridge.  This is a four story building in back.

And instead of ductwork heating system you can use a small boiler in each unit with heated water piped to fin-tube in each room.  I am an expert in designing heating systems so I could show you how to you make it work.  This will work with 12 inch truss joists and no suspended ceiling for ductwork.

Sketch it up, I did and it works great.

A fellow architect.

» on 08.19.09 @ 11:49 PM

I’ll vote no on B just for the simple fact that it would be another stupid regulation in a city that is already handcuffed by bureaucracy.

» on 08.20.09 @ 12:13 AM

I’d agree with one of the other posters—it does appear that Peikert drew the line in the wrong place in a number of those photos. Also, I wonder if they have permission for that U2 (or U2’ish) song?  Most of the supporters in the photo have a direct financial interest in seeing B not pass.

» on 08.20.09 @ 12:29 AM

My friend,

I agree with you that an occasional, meaning one every 5 years like we had up until 4 years ago, well designed 60 feet building may not be a problem.  But what you don’t get is this measure B height ordinance is now required to stop massive new growth and hundreds and hundreds of massive new buildings and the traffic congestion that goes along with it.

This was triggered by two things:

1. By greed when residential condos 4 years ago shot up to over $1,000,000 and suddenly the profit potential was huge.

2. City staff, in its desire to implement high density vertical smart growth started pushing smart growth mixed use tall buildings on Chapala.  Developers have told me that city staff got the message out that the city was now open to this type of tall development.

And now we can see the results.

The cold hard reality is that there is no way of controlling a desire to only get one new 4 story 60 feet building every 5 years, like we had for the last 40 years up until the boom min tall buildings here the last 4 years.

So this measure B is not about the quality of one 4 story building , but about quantity ( literally hundreds of new such monster buildings—a total transformation of our small town character) 

What you may not be aware of is that city staff and the majority of city Council wants to transform our city with hundreds more huge 4 story buildings downtown town order to implement their desired high density vertical smart growth. thats the whole purpose of revising our general plan—to change it to smart growth smart growth by increasing density downtown.

There is only one way to stop them and that is for the residents to take control of the planning of our city by lowering the building height.

City staff is determined during the Plan Santa Barbara process to increase our density from the current average 20 units per acre to 60 units per acre.  In the event they put in place a density of more than 40 small units per acre,  then the citizens are going to put yet another measure on the ballot next year to put a maximum of 20 units per acre in the city charter for anyplace in the city.

The majority of the citizens are simply not going to sit by and allow city planning staff, or city council, or the No on Developer crowd, to implement smart growth here and ruin our beautiful city. 

I say: “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!”

Power to the people . VOTE YES ON MEASURE B

» on 08.20.09 @ 12:34 AM

I’m going to turn in Piekert in to U-2 tomorrow for illegal use of their song.

That will teach him to suck eggs.

» on 08.20.09 @ 01:59 AM

I don’t understand why it is that people have a problem with profit or “financial interest.”  Our economic model here in the U.S.A is Capital. If we don’t like it we don’t have to participate or we can politically change it if there is the will. I like my home equity and I really didn’t do much to get 75% of it.

Again the issue at hand is height but I think that most people if they take a deep breath, go for a bicycle ride, walk around these new buildings on Chapala, notice the details, enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast at Esau’s or lunch at Silvergreens, maybe you’ll find that there is no canyon afterall, all the way to Chapala One.

» on 08.20.09 @ 02:32 AM

I think the argument against Measure B is put forth very clearly here.  There are opportunities in the approval process to vote yes or no to specific projects. To reduce building heights and hence property values would be detrimental to Santa Barbarans.  Vote No on Measure B!

» on 08.20.09 @ 02:52 AM

Well Less, I have to agree with your frustration over the city council’s lack of planning skills, their approval of anything that might legitimize their social engineering agenda. I even agree with the pro B folk’s fear of harmful development. If you remember, I told you once that I grew up in Ventura County during the 60’s. Man I know what ruinous growth looks like. Only there it was all low rise. And this is the rub, Less, I like you and so many others in this fray, am passionate about Santa Barbara. The fight you are fighting for that quality cannot be bought with building height limits. That mistake, my friend, was already made in 1972. The city thought it could preserve its self with a limit, but as you noted, if many buildings are built to that limit the city’s character is destroyed. Less, lowering the limit will not stop over development, it will encourage it. Only it will encourage the very kind of growth that I escaped from down south. It will not end the homeless problem or the gang violence. It will make the traffic problems we have as a result of a mindless city councils meddling in traffic engineering worse. All the current crap that has erased whatever charm this town once had, building height limits will not fix. You and the limiters will be making the same mistake made 37 years ago. We can fight over development. We can make sure the buildings that are built are appropriate in size, shape and design. There are enough of us out there who have enough passion and know how to make sure it is done right. But our passion for what truly makes this city great will be crushed by yet another over bearing one size fits all mentality. Think about it, your side has said its only 15 feet lower, why all the fuss. Your right, it is only 15 feet so why even do it?

» on 08.20.09 @ 03:25 AM

You know I was against B, but may reconsider after reading Less’s comments.  I personally like Chapala One but when you start to mention city staff and the whole Plan Santa Barbara sham it sends a chill up my spine.  Now I have to make a decision between my dislike of the “one size fits all solution” you propose and my greater distrust of the city staff.

PlanSB seems to exist only to validate a predetermined outcome and the vaunted “workforce housing” is a waste because they target the 32k and under demographic instead of the 50k-80k demographic who are the actual commuters from the North and South.  They fail to realize that no one is driving further than Goleta for a 32k a year job and those people can already rent locally.

» on 08.20.09 @ 11:27 AM

I was against measure B, too, until I read some of the Yes on B arguments.

Now, I’m leaning toward voting yes on B, just so I can stick it to city staff and city council.

» on 08.20.09 @ 12:25 PM

Good God people, shooting off both your feet to “stick it” to the city council? Building height limits will NOT stop these social engineers one bit. They will just do the same crap only with no gabled roofs (flat top buildings). Stop growth with zoning. Smashing your city flat as a growth tool is about as short sighted as you can get and will not solve the problem. As I pointed out before, the 60’ limit didn’t work as a growth tool how in the world do you think lopping 15’ off will somehow be the magic? Remember the old saying, the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. Get a clue people once you pass this measure the developers will be lining up to mow down your neighborhoods and replace them with 4 story flat roofed low income housing projects and you won’t have an argument left.

» on 08.20.09 @ 01:40 PM

Channeling Pearl, now that’s a good one. I for one would LOVE to be in the room when Pearl heard the arguments for squashing our city flat. I would just LOVE to hear her RIP YOU SEPV-ers A NEW ONE. That said, it’s sad the populace has been so dumbed-down from the days of “visionary” thinking that this small-simple-stupid-minded measure can even reach the ballot. How many times do we have to go through it? It’s faulty ORDINANCES that cause the bad buildings, not 60 feet! Site, architecture and function should be considered, not whether “affordable units” fit into the design. Forcing “inclusionary housing” into mixed-use buildings has CAUSED the problem, but God forbid we address that. Frankly, “affordable” and “prime downtown” shouldn’t be in the same sentence in this town. The idea of MODAs in areas like the Mesa, the Westside, Upper State, on the other hand, is very good. GOOD FOR ALL. God, I’m tired of this stupidity… Pearl could you just beam down for a few days and enlighten these folks???

» on 08.20.09 @ 02:08 PM

Local headlines:
“Falcone out of race for mayor”
followed by “Candidate in court. City Council hopeful John Thyne floats diversion program in lieu of jail”

These are supporters of over development and City Hall business as usual:  one now a lame duck and the other stumbling along and needing help from the District Attorney to avoid some time behind bars for violation of probation.
The other top of page headline: “Water district oversight sends customers to collections” describes unfair billing practices by water agency.  Any chance the DA will intervene?

» on 08.20.09 @ 02:19 PM

Has anyone been to “old town” Goleta lately? Is that the future of SB?

» on 08.20.09 @ 02:23 PM

Has anyone been to “old town” Goleta lately? Is that the future of SB?

» on 08.20.09 @ 02:47 PM

Sbnative, the lights went out a long time ago. You have architects calling for this crap! That’s like a doctor saying I’m only going to allow myself to practice voodoo. It’s exhausting trying to get people to engage their brains, but if professionals can’t be bothered then what’s the point. From an architectural point of view this is just plain madness. Trying to rein in the lunacy of the planning department by nuking the whole city, just madness.

» on 08.20.09 @ 08:02 PM

Why is it considered “news” when a bunch of developers, designers, contractors, and
builders get together to oppose the City of Santa Barbara reducing development
potential? That’s where their bread and butter come from.

Mickey Flacks desire for more “affordable” housing seems so strong that she would
stomach any kind of development of any size, shape, or design, IF she got a few more
units out of it.

Caveat emptor.

» on 08.20.09 @ 08:15 PM

40’ from 60’ for purely aesthetic reasons, why, I am fine with 60 feet and don’t want any higher. But your whole argument is based off of the assumption that smart growth means hi-rises. Google hi-rise and see what images come up, nothing even remotely close to anything on Chapala. Growth is happening as we speak - do you have children or grandchildren? If so maybe you should ask them to leave, just who do you think you are to have children in this community? 
“It is a fact that in any ecosystem that a lower   population is more sustainable than a large population.”

That is the most irrelevant remark ever! How does that relate to SB? Does it make less likely your elite exclusive ideology that SB is for the rich and well off. You basically don’t want anyone else. I may be young but I haven’t lost the most important lesson of youth - that sharing is good.

As for your traffic remark I have had to drive to SB for the past 10 years from Carpinteria and lost about a month of my life sitting in traffic. So anything that will allow people to keep their cars parked is good. Smart growth within the existing 60’ limit is going to allow people that drive from Carpinteria, Oxnard, Camarillo to serve you coffee an affordable living situation possibly above their place of work. Why would you ever think it’s okay to put less fortunate people at a disadvantage because you want to keep your views. Oh yeah its because your old, and forgot how to share.

» on 08.20.09 @ 08:22 PM


Those are the people who build cities. Who would be better informed about the impacts of this than them?

» on 08.20.09 @ 11:37 PM

You are right that developers and architects know how to build a city and know the negative effects.

But what you just don’t “get” is that they are keeping all the negative impacts to themselves and only arguing the good points.

This is because they all make their living out of building.  So the more growth and the bigger buildings the more money they make.  And we are talking about big money.  the architects fee on these monster projects can be $1,000,000 and the profit to a developer can be $5,000,000 on top of a $1,000,000 developers fee. 
this is revealed in the city staffs own consultants recent economic report.

If they were honest and told the real story everyone would vote Yes on B and out them out of work.

Therefore it is up to the Yes on B citizens to inform the voters about the real negative impacts of such growth and of such big and tall buildings.

Jason, I know you mean well and have good intentions , but , with all due respect, you really don’t know what you are talking about. 

Yes we have a housing affordability problem in this coastal resort town which is the most desirable town in the country to live.  its the same in all the other small coastal resort towns like Carmel.

And yes we need solutions.

But what you don’t seem to grasp is that a community has numerous other goals, like preserving our small town character, and preserving our high quality of life and living within our resources like water and traffic capacity.  A good plan is one that is a compromise and balance so that all community goals are met, not just the one that is the most important to you.

Many of us can’t afford to buy here but we make the choice whether to make a financial sacrifice and pay 50% of our income to be able to buy a condo, or rent, or buy a house in Ventura for half the price and commute 30 miles. 

There are 10,000,000 people in the greater LA area and half of them make the choice to commute 30 miles to work every day.  It’s their choice, and they had other alternatives including moving.  Living in the most desirable town in the country may not be possible for everyone.  One solution is to install a new light rail system between Ventura and Santa Maria.  Running every hour and for a $5 ticket.

The population in California is 38,500,000 and growing by 600,000 every year. 20,000,000 of them live within a 100 mile radius of Santa Barbara, the most desirable town in the country.

Answer me this, Jason, just how many of them would love to live in Santa Barbara?
I’ll tell, you how many—-ALL OF THEM.  Just like all of them would like to be given a free new Mercedes Benz.

Answer me this Jason:  ” Just how many of these 20,000,000 people should the government give a free mercedes Benz.

Just how many of the 20,000,000 who would love to live here do you want to add to our existing 100,000 population?

And answer me this , jason, just how many new people can be accommodated by our limited water supply and our traffic system without having total bumper to bumper gridlock?

I took the time to fond out and it is a fact that our water supply and our transportation system can only accommodate.  Its around 10,000 units and 30,000 people.

Answer me this , Jason, would you rather we grow 10,000 units in 20 years, with 500 units per year? or spread it our over 67 years with 150 units per year?

One of the main points is that it is a fact that at our EXISTING DENSITY which is 20 units per acre Santa Barbara has the capacity for 7000 new units in the commercial zone of the MODA and 3000 units in our R-3 zone in the MODA for a total capacity of 10,000 units in the MODA.  This is not speculation but is a fact that can be verified by Betty Weiss the City planner.  I was at a meeting to years ago when she reported this to the planning Commission.

This is a significant point because it shows that Santa Barbara has adequate capacity to accommodate all the units that can ever be provided for by our resources within our existing density and within 3 stories and 40 feet. 

Therefore it is a fact that 4 stories and 60 feet is not even needed in order for us to accommodate all of the units that we can every build here,  this means WE DON’T NEED IT!

So, Jason, the question becomes;  ” why do it?’ When it results in monstrosities like those on Chapala which will transform our city and ruin our small town character ( that we all rely on for our tourist industry), and will ruin our quality of live, and will cause massive bumper to bumper level F gridlock traffic congestion, just like happened in Santa Monica when it implemented smart growth and allowed 6 story mixed use monster buildings.

Jason. if you don’t know what level F traffic congestion means i suggest you inform yourself.  level F is where it takes 10 minutes to travel one block because you have to sit through 3 or 4 changes in the traffic light just to get through it and each time it changes to green you get to creep up at 5 mph for another 100 feet and stop and wait for the next one and repeat the process over and over and over.  Sound like fun, Jason?  Remember the bus is caught up in this same gridlock and cannot move.

And the folks living downtown get to breath all, of the air pollution and get sick.  Not good for our children.
Jason, do you really expect the development community saying no on B to inform the public on this reality.  Of course not.

Preserve your quality of life, Jason, and vote YES ON B with the rest of us.

» on 08.21.09 @ 03:03 AM

Reply to Jason, you are kidding right? What part of “small town character” are YOU trying to preserve? The hobos panhandling on the sidewalks? How about the bum urinating on your nice low rise building? Oh, wait, I know! It’s the gang bangers stabbing each other. Or the 15,000 people arriving each day to work here, right? No? OK the small town charm you get from traffic choked streets blocked by bulb outs, that’s it, huh? I got it, it’s the 10,000 tourist that show up every week end. No that can’t be it because they aren’t coming anymore. And since you believe tourism is going to feed the poor the city is bankrupt. Can you see how utterly bankrupt that “small town character” argument is? The city is 90,000 + in a metro area of 220,000, hardly a small town. But because you bury your head in the sand and absolutely refuse to see reality, you think you can manufacture character and charm with a freaking building façade. Its absolute madness. You simply cannot make a small town by squashing the skyline flat. It’s too late. The smallness you had when the city had a population of 25,000 disappeared 80 years ago. Lowering building heights will NOT stop growth or cure the city’s ills, and those of you who believe that are living in fantasy land. It won’t work and you will continue to destroy this place by concentrating so much energy on the wrong things. It just plain insane.

» on 08.21.09 @ 05:49 AM

No, AN50, its you who must be kidding, right?

How hard is it to get through your head two simple facts:

1. No matter what you think, most of the rest of us think that Santa Barbara is the most desirable town to live in the whole country and feel that it DOES indeed have a unique and beautiful small town character .  Period.

And we desire to keep it that way.

2. No matter what you think, the vast majority of the residents despise those monstrosities on Chapala and don’t want hundreds and hundreds more built and totally transform the character of our town, from the desirable and cherished character that it is,  into just another big city with the character of a big city with big buildings and lots of traffic congestion, and crime,  that goes along with it

You are living in dreamland when you say we can somehow say no to big,  bulky, monster, 4 story, 60 feet high buildings.

The reality , my friend, is that under a 60 feet height limit hundreds and hundreds more will get approved and built.  Just like the ones on Chapala got approved.  What makes you think it would be different, with city staff and city planning commission and the architects on the ABR and City Council all wanting lots of high density vertical smart growth and hundreds and hundreds more tall 4 story 60 feet tall buildings.

Your kidding right?

Save El pueblo faced this reality and put measure B on the ballot for one reason.  Because if we didn’t , the smart folks in control would increase density to 60 units per acre and encourage hundreds and hundreds more high density 4 story 60 feet monster buildings to get built and totally transform and ruin our beautiful city.

Whatever it is now, and most of us think it is something highly desirable and thats why we sacrifice to live here in paradise,—it would be transformed into something worse.

So please join the majority of the residents and vote Yes on B and preserve the character and beauty of Santa Barbara and protect and preserve your quality of life.


p.s: Give it up AN50, because your arguments are all faulty and the more you spew your ridiculous garbage the more the voters will vote yes on B.

» on 08.21.09 @ 12:48 PM

Gotta love these individuals who presume to post for “the vast majority of Santa Barbarans”.  What will determine “the vast majority”‘s opinion is a vote.  So speak for yourself.  Alone.  As an individual.

As someone in this long series posted, the real housing issue is population.  So export the illegals, the gang members, the criminals, and the bums and vagrants, and quit having babies and the problem will be solved.

» on 08.21.09 @ 12:54 PM

Less, I read every word you write and savor it. It is composed out of stubbornness to your vision. Please do not take offense to that statement because it also describes my diatribes as well. I do not doubt your sincerity when you say you and your fellow followers “love” Santa Barbara the way it is. No, I just ask you to tell me, do you love the Santa Barbara that really exists (vagrants, gangs, traffic and a population that swells by 15,000 everyday) or the one you and the yes on B folks image exists (a simple suburban red tiled tourist trap of only 5,000 souls)? Which is it?

Further, and this is the really important part, Less, because I can appreciate your vision of a smaller town however impractical that is, do you really believe that lopping off 15 to 20 feet of new buildings is going to stop growth? If you believe that the current 60’ limit is going to usher in hundreds of new buildings at that height (4 stories with gabled roofs) then how is lowering the height to 45 feet going to stop the ushering in of hundreds of buildings at that height (4 stories with flat roofs). The community that is “open minded” wants to know. Keep in mind, if imposing a 60’ limit doesn’t stop it how does imposing a 45’ limit?.

I want to help you, but I can’t until you actually see what the real Santa Barbara looks like and exists like. I can’t help you unless you realize you are using the wrong tool for the job. Your passion and vision are not that different, my friend, from my own. What is is our method for getting there. I want to fight the very groups that formed the no on B coalition. But I will support them if it means killing height limits. If it weren’t for measure B you and I would undoubtedly be on the same side.

» on 08.21.09 @ 02:12 PM

the buildup to this measure came during the boom of development in America. Now that its over and there is this din of unintelligent selfish crying, we as a community are going to take real look at all new development in the downtown area. I think it should be done with the existing regulations and use the planning department and its processes taking into account the outcry of the community. Three building went up in 2 years and everyone jumped on how ugly the scaffolding looked. Now we have three new building on chapala and your claims of hundreds and hundreds more will only be accomplished in a hundred years minimum. I think the new chapala buildings fit in great with the city and the scale surrounding them. And when all you nimbys are gone those building will be appreciated by everyone in the community, especially shelton’s projects. Tourist will come here and think what a great community this is and want to come back and tell there friends of the great architecture. People dont come to SB for upper state, or milpas, they come for the atmosphere of the downtown and beach and mountains.

I agree that we should not become santa monica. but with the current charter that would be impossible, and your fears of hundreds and hundreds of new monstrosities is a gross exaggeration used to scare people. when you frame it like that its easy to get people to sign your petition, I would have signed it if i wasn’t well informed on the issue. So ask yourself if this is an honest debate.

Also the follow the money attacks are insulting to the people that work years on a project. Divide that 1,000,000 up between 10 people over 3 years and you get a honest wage of around 30,000. Hardly enough to even live in this town.

» on 08.21.09 @ 02:21 PM

@ an50

we are on the same side
i don’t think your comments were relevant to mine, I said nothing of small town character. I think SB lost its small town character when the state street streetlight on the 101 was taken out.

» on 08.21.09 @ 03:22 PM

Reply @ AN50.


You always miss the point.  Sure, Santa Barbara has some shortcomings. is not perfect, and needs improvement as far as gangs, etc.  But it’s also extremely unique, very attractive, provides a high quality of life,  and also a extremely desirable place to live—-just the way it is.  As compared to other cities that are not as attractive and have even more gang problems crime, air pollution and traffic.

And sure, the reasons for our attributes are not just the beautiful architecture and the small town character and are also other things like the wonderful natural setting and the wonderful climate and the vast choices of activities.

A worthy cause is for the residents to protect and preserve their quality of life and to protect and preserve the unique wonderful and desirable character of our city. 

An important part of our dialog has to include discussing what is going on with our City planners.  Our City planners, like all planners nationwide, have all fallen love with a new system of planning called smart growth.  Smart growth is where people in the future will all have to live vertically in a condo ( which is really just apartment)  in a high rise and dense mixed use building downtown, where a family does not have its own yard. Smart growth also involves getting rid of the cars, and forcing people to walk by not providing adequate parking and getting them to ride the bus. 

Smart growth planning is a one size fits all solution, where every town would look the same.  The look is exactly that of the monster buildings on Chapala.  Hundreds more just like them.

So we are not talking about thee occasional tall architectural gem like the courthouse or the arlington theater, but we are talking about totally transforming the character of our town by adding hundreds and hundreds of big and bulky tall 4 story buildings.
Right in the middle of our historic El Pueblo Viejo district.

Now a four story building has a quite different effect than a two or three story building.  A four story building blocks mountain and ocean views ( which are an important part of the character and visual effect of our city).  They give a canyon effect when built in the smart growth manner which is close to the street with inadequate setback.  The courthouse and the arlington tower look so nice because they have huge 50 feet setbacks from the street.  Tall buildings block sunlight from paseos and plazas.  A sunny paseo, or plaza, is much more cheerful than a dreary one one in the shade.  Tall 4 story buildings don’t have the charm,  human scale, and character of two and three story buildings. 

And right now our city is very charming because the vast majority of buildings are one, two and three stories, and the overall effect is one of a small town character , even though we are not a small town in population.  Santa Barbara has a worldwide reputation for beauty and tourists come from all over to enjoy a stay here.  The tourist industry is our largest industry and it is a clean industry.  It adds to the economic health of our city and we need it.  if we implement high density vertical smart growth here it will completely transform the character of our city and we will no longer have the small town character that the vast majority of us love .

You, and other’s, make a point about how implementing a 40 feet height limit will flatten our city and result in flat roofs.  This is simply not the case.

Right now the few tall buildings provide some variation and with a shorter height limit they will not go away but will remain and continue to provide relief. 

The assistant city Attorney has stated last week that if an existing building taller than the height limit is damaged it can be rebuilt to it;s previous height.  also the height limit does not include towers.  Towers will continue to be built which will provide height variation.

Under our 60 feet height limit over the last 40 years we have had one, two , three and four story buildings built.  under the new 40 feet height limit we will continue to have one, two and three story buildings built, in addition to the existing one , two, and three story buildings that will, remain.  The result will be adequate visual variation. and the town will not be squashed and will not be all flat at the same 40 feet. 

Also, three story building varies significantly in height.  Some are 33 feet , some 35 feet , some 37 feet and some 40 feet.  And many will include a one and two story component for variety.  On top of all that we have an architectural review board that will, insist on some height variation and would not allow all 40 flat buildings.  The architects themselves would never design their building to be the exact same as all the others.  It has never been that way anywhere before in the history of the world.

Also, measure B, says in it that the Council will define how the height is measured.  Now it is to the highest point of the roof.  When measure B passes the city council will change the definition of height to match the definition in the building code which says the height is measured either to the parapet of a flat foot or the average height of a sloped roof.  This will give sloped roofs an additional 5 feet in height added to the 40 feet height limit and therefore a ridge can be 45 feet.

It is a fact that a three story mixed use building can be easily designed with the ridge of a sloped roof at 45 feet even with very high ceilings.  Proof of this is all the recent mixed use three story proposals which all have sloped roofs and all, without exception,  are less than 45 feet.

lastly, there is the issue of population.

The effect of measure B is that it will help prevent overpopulation and will be more sustainable in living within our resources.  Our resources only allow a small amount of future population growth.  it is a fact that this amount of population growth can be easily accommodated at our existing density with a 49 feet height limit and with a variation of one., two and three story buildings in the MODA.  it is a fact that we don’t even need a fourth story to accommodate this amount of desired growth.

So why have a 60 feet height limit which will result in hundreds of monster four story building which will transform and ruin our cherishes small town character.  All for nothing as they won’t allow for more population than our resources can accommodate.

But an important point is that preventing four stories, which generally won’t be built under a 40 feet height limit, will force future city councils to live within our resources. A 60 feet height limit, which allows massive and tall four story buildings, opens up the possibility for a population growth which will exceed the carrying capacity of our resources. 

Because the only other way to prevent additional buildings once that point is reached would be to implement a water moratorium.  But existing buildings with a water meter and historic water use could demolish it and build a four story building with a hundred condos under the theory that tit can get by with the same amount of water as the previous use. 

History has shown that the people cannot count on a city council to always do the right thing.  The best solution is to put limits in our city charter that force the city to live within our resources.  And a 40 feet height limit does just that as a city can only get do big with all one, two and three story buildings.  It would have prevented Santa Monica from being ruined by gridlock traffic congestion and it will prevent Santa Barbara from being ruined by traffic congestion and the loss of our small town character and quality of live.

Vote yes on B and preserve your quality of life.

» on 08.21.09 @ 05:28 PM


The whole problem here is that you have an opinion which is not shared by the majority of the voters.

You like the buildings on Chapala and want a lot more just like them.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder my friend, and the reality is that the vast majority of the voters just despise those monstrosities on Chapala and don’t want many more just like them.

And you are full of crap when you say we will only get one per year.  After the market price of condos exceeded $1,000,000 and before the economic downturn we got dozens of such applications submitted per year.  Not just one.  Once the economy turns good again, which it will, under a 60 feet height limit and the increased density smart growth policy that you and city staff want to implement, Santa Barbara would get dozens of such new monster 4 story 60 feet high monsters every year and our now beautiful city would be transformed one big building at a time.  And each new big building would cause an increase in traffic congestion downtown.

lastly, You are all wet about the architectural fee and the number of employees and time required.  I am an architect and I know that such a building can be easily designed and working drawings drawn by an architectural staff of two working full time for 1 1/2 years (one architect and one draftsman) in two years) in addition to the consulting engineering of 3 months by six men in one year and then one year of construction phase can handled by one man half time.    This is a grand total of five man years of time and comes to a fee of around $200,000 per man per year, not your $30,000. 

As I said before, your intentions are good, but just don’t know what you are talking about. And your desires are a far cry from what the majority of the voters want—but you just don’t care about that minor detail, and want to force you way on the rest of us.  HOW ARROGANT!

Lets let the voters decide what we want, NOT CITY STAFF and sure not the smart growth advocates like Jason, who like those monstrosities on Chapala and want to transform our downtown with hundreds more just like them. 


» on 08.21.09 @ 06:00 PM

Lie 1) project application does not equal building built

Lie 2) your time calculations proves the falseness of the claim that these projects are huge payouts for those involved. And you don’t even take into consideration all the planning process that makes these projects last for years. Its as if that 200,000 has no overhead involved, no health insurance costs, no taxes. Nothing but time billed.

Lie 3) I am not forcing my way on anyone, you are forcing the measure to change this town not me.

Lie 4) Three building were built in 2 years during the boom - we are now in a downturn facing your outcry. Do you really think there are going to be dozens of building built per year downtown? I don’t think so.

Im done with this - you busy bodies are selfish and have nothing to contribute to this community except creating ways to limit the future of others. Move to russia if you think people should not make a living.

» on 08.21.09 @ 08:03 PM

Take a look at all the ugly buildings that our city government has approved - not to mention streets full of homeless,grafitti everywhere,teenage knifings each most weekends - and you will understand that the real problem is our city council.  Vote yes on B to try to save what little beauty is left in our sad little downtown.  Maybe we will have better leaders sometime soon and B won’t be needed…

» on 08.21.09 @ 09:18 PM

Jason said:
Lie 1) project application does not equal building built

reply: True, But 20 applications a year equal 10 projects built a year.

Lie 2) your time calculations proves the falseness of the claim that these projects are huge payouts for those involved. And you don’t even take into consideration all the planning process that makes these projects last for years. Its as if that 200,000 has no overhead involved, no health insurance costs, no taxes. Nothing but time billed.

reply:  I proved the fee was $200 per hour, not the ridiculous $30 that you said, for the one purpose to prove that you were lying. ( which you were)  I did not say the $200 was not a fair fee per hour, and I did not say it did not include overhead or profit, which it obviously does.  The whole point is that these fees are a significant amount of money, and thus they are the primary motivation for those advocating No on B.  (follow the money)


Lie 3) I am not forcing my way on anyone, you are forcing the measure to change this town not me.

reply: You have it all wrong. Santa Barbara got along just fine without high density vertical smart growth for 40 years and became a beautiful place in spite of not having high density smart growth.  Now, you and city staff and city council want to change things by implementing high density smart growth and increasing our density from 20 units per acre to 60 units per acre, for the purpose of encouraging a lot more big 4 story mixed use buildings downtown like those on Chapala,  You admitted that you like them. 
all, we are doing is lowering the building height in order to prevent you and the smart growth advocates from transforming our town.  It is our side who are trying to protect and preserve it not your side.


Lie 4) Three building were built in 2 years during the boom - we are now in a downturn facing your outcry. Do you really think there are going to be dozens of building built per year downtown? I don’t think so.

answer: You are so full of crap your eyes are turning brown.  there were dozens and dozens of tall big buildings approved and built downtown during the boom. 


Im done with this - you busy bodies are selfish and have nothing to contribute to this community except creating ways to limit the future of others. Move to russia if you think people should not make a living.

reply:  So your position is that we should allow lots of big 4 story monster buildings which will transform our town, destroy our small town character and mountain views, ruin our quality of life , and create bumper to bumper gridlock congestion downtown just so you, the architects and developers can make a living? 
GIVE ME A BREAK!    You’ve got to be kidding. 

It’s you smart growth social engineers who should move to socialist Russia, and take your stupid high density vertical smart growth with you.

» on 08.22.09 @ 02:01 PM

Interesting, but not surprising that Councilmember Williams, now sitting tight in the government tent, urges that government and staff, NOT the voice of the people, be the deciders. Agreed that it is best when people of differing points of view work together, but when the council refused to hear one side, the people had to act and did a petition/ballot effort. It doesn’t take long for ambition (and pocketbooks, for the developers) to trump listening to the people.

Interesting, too, that the staff-driven PlanSB is the mechanism preferred by the developers-builders who work directly with the staff for their projects. That exhausting, lengthy, deaf-eared process has long since been abandoned by most Santa Barbarans.

As for “simplistic” and the preference for more complicated ballot measures,  change state law that requires one issue per ballot measure.

» on 08.22.09 @ 04:37 PM

Will some one in the “yes on B” camp explain to me why dropping building heights is a growth issue? I urge every one of you who signed that petition on the lie that lowering building heights would slow growth to drive around SB and look at the many 4 story apartment buildings in town that are currently at or below 40’. This is an aesthetic issue that has nothing to do with growth or housing and developers know it and so do the nefarious organizations pushing more affordable housing.
You will vote this measure in and then you will see hundreds of flat topped 4 story 40’ barracks being built everywhere and you will have no recourse to fight it. Those of you naïve enough to believe that some how you can not fight a 60’ building but making it 40’ means you can are suckers. You have been warned now. Come next November when you pull that lever you can choose between a beautiful city where architects are free to create works of art and growth is managed by zoning the way it should be or you can choose the lie and turn your city into another typical low rise mediocre suburban nightmare just like the rest of southern California.

» on 08.23.09 @ 04:55 AM


The Yes on B group all claim measure B has to do with both aesthetics and housing.

The No on B group all claim measure B has to do with both aesthetics and housing.

You are the only person in town who says measure B is only about aesthetics.

Are you really such an arrogant know it all, and so stupid, that you somehow think that only you are right, and everyone else on both sides are wrong?

Might not it be the other way around?  That everyone else on both sides is right and only you, the minority of one, are wrong.

From all your posts I can see that you think you are God, and you know it all, and that you think you know what’s best for all the rest of us poor idiots.

How patronizing and arrogant can one man be?
I’ll answer that;  “As patronizing and arrogant as that know it all, AN50.”

Moral: Be careful what question you ask, as you may not like the answer.

You’ve said quite enough.  Remember a wise man keeps silent, and lets others think he might be fool, instead of spouting off garbage like you do, and removing all doubt.

Do yourself a favor, and don’t further embarrass yourself.

» on 08.23.09 @ 03:28 PM

Reply to AN50
Quite a kettle calling the pot black. Unfortunately, you leave your supporters and opponents alike, once again, without answering the question. Could it be that the arrogant, condescending and know-it-all attitude you feel I exude is due to your embarrassing ignorance? Answer the question directly without all the talking point spin. Answer it with quick and delusion less, logical, rational reason. Then maybe you won’t feel so dang blasted inferior all the time.
BTW – you are right about one thing, I may be the only one in this town who is right. Right is right, it doesn’t need your consensus or approval. It just is. When you get over your own overly emotional attachment to ego you might learn a thing or two.

» on 08.23.09 @ 05:46 PM


It’s a growth issue because on the 60 feet height is in the charter.  The four stories limit is in the zoning ordinance, which allows the city council to either increase it to six stories on any given Monday, which a few of then want to do, or, grant a modification to allow a six story condo building which can easily be built in 60 feet.  which some on the council want to do for the upcoming transit village at the location of the MTD bus center.

The city planning staff plans on increasing our density from 20 to 60.

It is a fact that, with this high density,  the extra 20 feet will allow an additional story on every building downtown, and an additional story would accommodate yet an additional 15,000 more people living downtown, which in turn would result in total gridlock traffic congestion downtown and be far more than our resources can accommodate.

» on 08.23.09 @ 07:15 PM

That’s more like it. However, what you fail to see is that they can do the same with a 40 foot limit as well. Massive numbers of flat topped 40 foot condo and apartment buildings and no way to stop them because you expended all your energy fighting height rather than growth, completely illogical and a bloody tragedy at that. Sort of like Al Gore’s religion bankrupting civilization to stop global warming only to find out you can’t and now you have nothing left to help adapt to it.
BTW what’s wrong with 6 story buildings at the transit center? It’s right in the middle of town where the tallest structures should be built. It is at a transit hub where easy mass transit access is granted. It would be a crown jewel for the city, if done right. Unfortunately, given the irrational and apocalyptic nature of those like you, it will never be built here, too many nut cases in this town who believe in fairy tales.

» on 08.23.09 @ 07:42 PM

I’m worried that Measure B will split the progressive vote, or event the moderate vote, and extreme candidates like Francisco, Hotchkiss, and Self will be elected.

» on 08.23.09 @ 09:21 PM


Please read this with an open mind:

Your whole argument is based on approved tall buildings all being a crown jewell.

If we had but one such crown jewell a year I could live with it.

But you, my friend are living in an idealistic dreamworld, which is the only world where we could be assured of such high and acceptable architectural quality.

lets face the reality of the real world.

In the real world 1 building in 10 is an architectural Gem and 9 in ten are not.  And many are downright ugly!

Lets face the reality that ugly building do get through the process and get approved , even with our ABR.

We are putting the lower height limit in place as the only sure way to stop the ugly buildings s and an unfortunate consequence is that it also prevents the occasional architectural gem.

But there is no other way.  History has shown that we can’t put our trust in the ABR or council to say no to bad architecture.  While theoretically possible, in your dreamworld, in the reality of the real world is simply doesn’t work that way.

And the citizens sure can’t be bothered fighting each new monstrosity (and shouldn’t have to)  as they are proposed here every month.

So we put measure B in place to do it for us automatically.

» on 08.23.09 @ 11:16 PM


You have a height issue, that is clear. Your limits will not stop growth or ugly buildings, it will only make growth more spread out and no guaranty that it won’t be ugly. Limits will not eradicate homelessness, vagrancy, gang violence or the march of 10,000 strangers through town every weekend or 15,000 employees showing up during the week. Keep trying though, if you experiment with enough straw grasping reasons you might find one that comes close.
Like I have been trying to tell you, you like short buildings. For some reason you equate that with some dreamy quiet suburban landscape where real city problems don’t exist. Reality bites, my friend. You cannot get that “small town charm” from building height limits no matter how hard you try. I suggest Santa Cruz or Carpentaria as a substitute (Santa Cruz for the lefties and Carp for those on the right). The city you think you live in died decades ago. It is nothing but a façade and making the façade shorter won’t bring back what you lost.
However, I too share your vision for a human scale city that has a well engineered traffic flow and the disreputable are run out. It is clean and though attractive enough to attract tourist, it has a strong industrial and financial base to support its citizens so they are not strung out on seasonal economies (particularly when it’s the only game in town). My vision includes taller buildings down town and a core that is both urban and beautiful (something we enjoy today). That is the difference between us, building heights, not our vision, just how tall it is. I prefer cities that look like cities. If I want Disneyland, where everything is based on a much shorter and simpler minded cliental, I’ll go there. I just don’t want any part of that imposed on a living, working, breathing city that is desperate for some leadership to bring it back to life. Short is fine for suburbia and the mall, it has no place in a downtown core. It is the antithesis of what a city is.
Get over Santa Monica and all things LA, they don’t happen here, but please be very aware, your limits will not keep the urban train wreck we all know as LA away. If you continue to believe that you are dancing on very thin ice indeed.

» on 08.24.09 @ 12:20 AM

Really, it IS all about proportion… Who’s cuter, Air Jordan or Tom Cruise? Exactly… both are gorgeous. If we didn’t have STUPID ordinances (i.e., inclusionary housing, parking requirements) messing up good design, we’d be fine. I know, I know, so simple…

» on 08.24.09 @ 12:33 AM


This was your best comment.

Two thoughts:

First of all, all the problems you list like gangs are the exact same whether we have a 40 feet building height or a 60 feet building height.

We never said a 40 feet height would solve all those problems or make a perfect town.  The point is that all these problems are no worse under measure B and our side prefers lower buildings and a relatively more small town feel.  Thats why we are going to implement them into the charter.  Period.

It all cones down to aesthetics.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so this is a subjective issue and there is no correct factual answer.  This means you cannot be right and us wrong.

What it comes down to is we disagree.  Neither side is going to be able to ever change the other sides opinion.  We respect your opinion and we ask you to respect ours

Therefore, this is going to be decided by a vote of the people.  The majority will rule.

End of discussion.

I’ll buy you a beer after the polls close.

Power to the People.

» on 08.24.09 @ 05:22 AM

to Reply: The pity is that we don’t have educated minds like Pearl Chase’s to weigh in with vision and clarity, rather than small-minded fearmongering. THAT is the real pity…


» on 08.24.09 @ 12:28 PM

I had a dream last night and Pearl Chase, in her wisdom, let it be known that she despised those monsters on Chapala, and that they were not all what she had envisioned for our city,  and suggested that we all vote yes on measure B in order to prevent dozens more just like then from ever happening in the future.

So do as Pearl would have done, and vote Yes on B

» on 08.24.09 @ 11:36 PM

» Amy wrote on 08.23.09 @ 03:42 PM

I’m worried that Measure B will split the progressive vote, or event the moderate vote, and extreme candidates like Francisco, Hotchkiss, and Self will be elected.”

Amy, I think you’‘ve made a good point, but it won’t necessarily be so. I am moderate to very liberal (the term “progressive” is foolish) Democrat who strongly supports Measure B—- and resents that the local Dems have come out against it, even as they endorse one of its supporters, Channing. I wonder who they think they represent?

As the nastiness from the No on B increases, I am increasingly tempted to have a litmus test of voting for those who favor Yes on B. That’s Francisco for mayor,  Pritchett, Channing and I guess, the establishment’s White and McCammon. (Basically all the council candidates favor except for Thyne; all the mayoral candidates oppose, apparently, Schneider refusing to say, except for Francisco.

I personally like House, but he has called the Measure B initiative (and therefore its supporters) “close to immoral”; I am disappointed that Schneider won’t say yay or nay, so I guess that means she opposes. (All officials would have to obey the charter so her statement of respecting the city vote is meaningless.)

» on 08.25.09 @ 01:46 AM

Its a fact, commonly, known by insiders,  that Helene Schneider is against measure B.

But she is too smart to be honest and admit it.

I can understand this, because it appears as if the vast majority of the residents are in favor of measure B and she knows it would cost her the election to come out and inform the public as to her true feelings if the majority were going to vote no on B then Helene wouldn’t be afraid to be straight with is and admit it.

So her actions prove that she is convince measure B is going to pass.  This is a very good indication of where measure B stands with the voters, because Helene has an excellent sense of the will of the people.

And the will of the people is to vote YES ON B.

» on 08.25.09 @ 05:26 PM

Lived here for of my years. My money says that the pro growth commenters on here have probably come from another city that they have screwed up and escaped. Now they want to bring their failed policies. Many I bet work for government or have government contracts.

If the socialist Das Williams is for something, then I’m against it.  these policies have overspent and over taxed to attain a FAIL.

» on 08.25.09 @ 11:45 PM

You would be quite wrong to assume that the anti-B folks are not from Santa Barbara. News flash. We are also not pro-growth. We are simply not anti-architecture! And to those who “dream” of Pearl, yikes. Yes, I think she would LAUGH IN YOUR FACES re Measure B’s small-minded solution. Just goes to show you have NO confidence in your elected leaders and review boards and Pearl wouldn’t either. She’d tell you to SNAP OUT OF IT and get smart for a change. And the majority of SB is not for this measure. Just a lotta you that are must not have jobs so you have a lotta time to blog in… capiche?

» on 08.26.09 @ 01:51 AM

Just what gives you the illusion that the majority of the voters are against measure B?

Don’t you realize that 15,000 votes will win, and 11,500 already signed the petition which signifies they are in favor of B.

Would you like to put your money where your mouth is?
I’ll bet you $1000 that measure B wins.
It would be the easiest $1000 i ever made in my life.
In fact its a sure thing.

» on 08.26.09 @ 12:52 PM

It takes more to win than the arguments you have given. Anyone reading the comments on this page can see who is rational and who is livin an illusion.
Sbnative is right on the money, again. It’s purely an architectural issue. Your measure B is like trying to kill lawn weeds with a bulldozer. Yep you got the weed, but now you have no lawn.

» on 08.26.09 @ 07:09 PM


Its easy to see as they use the same unusual words like “squashed”


» on 08.26.09 @ 07:22 PM

What is interesting is that it seems people fail to see the connection between an issue often highlighted in Noozhawk—our open border—and what is happening here.

Our population is growing—and growing rapidly with no end in sight.  As long as this is the case, you can expect to see more buildings in your vicinity.

I wonder if those who are anti-growth are willing to connect the dots between the urbanization of what was once a laid back small city and an immigration policy which only seems to benefit the ruling classes on both sides of the border.

» on 08.26.09 @ 08:46 PM

That is a good point Bill. But it continues to feed into the notion that building height limits will do anything to stop growth.
The pro B folks are adamant that lopping off the skyline will:
a)  Stop or reduce growth. No it will just be shorter and more spread out.
b)  Return SB to its former comatose state (newlywed or nearly dead). Nope, wrong again as you so aptly pointed out with the slave trade in illegal immigration.
c)  Ensure only beautiful buildings are built. The buildings will be shorter, not necessarily beautiful. Two different things there.
I don’t think they get it and certainly not if they are being coached by Bill Mahan. However, as Less, above points out, they may win. That will ensure, along with the short sighted and rather naïve assumption that having only one industry (tourism) is financially sound will be the final coffin nail.
To Sbnative, do not worry about ole Lester the skyline molester; he tends to get spun up in this weird paranoia over different commenters being one in the same. I warned him the last time that it is a result of doing that very thing himself. Tsk, Tsk,  naughty Less.

» on 08.26.09 @ 11:10 PM

“That is a good point Bill. But it continues to feed into the notion that building height limits will do anything to stop growth.” -AN50-

Actually we agree on this.  I’m saying that capping building heights is not addressing the underlying issue.

» on 08.26.09 @ 11:19 PM

» Jim wrote on 08.25.09 @ 01:26 PM

“If the socialist Das Williams is for something, then I’m against it.” 

Jim: While one can draw an overall conclusion about another person it is important to scrutinize each issue and not automatically assume that because they feel a certain way on a given subject that they will be wrong.

I’m not saying whether Williams is right or wrong on this issue, but I have found that even those who I normally disagree with ocasionally will say something with which I’m in agreement.

The most extreme example of this is Hitler telling people that they should be kind to animals.  Just because someone as repulsive as Hitler said this does that mean we should be cruel to our four-legged cohorts?

» on 08.27.09 @ 12:05 AM

AN50 couldn’t be more wrong.

Even though the primary purpose of measure B is to preserve our quality of life and small town feel, it will indeed prevent population growth.

As an environmental scientist, I learned long ago that the best way to understand the effect of something on the environment is to exaggerate it and look the effect that has.  Then the effect of whatever I’m considering will be a similar effect, but in less magnitude.

So to be able to understand what effect lowering a building height has one simply looks at what effect it would have if we lowered the height limit to to 15 feet.

It is a fact people need building space in order to live.

Now one can clearly see that a 15 feet height limit would mean that buildings could only be one story tall and once all the land inside the city limits is covered with one story buildings then there can be no more.  This volume of space can only accommodate a fixed population of about 50,000.  This number can live within our resources and is therefore sustainable.

Now lets increase the height limit to 26 feet.  Now we can have two stories and thus be able to double the volume of buildings and thus be able to double our population to about 100,000.  This number can still live within our resources.

Now lets increase the height to 35 feet.  Now we can have three story buildings and thus be able to triple the original volume and thus be able to provide for a population of about 150,000.  But whoa, Nellie, we only have resources for 130,000.
so we have to stop. 

If we increase our building height to 45 feet we can have four story buildings and increases the volume of building to further grow our population to about 200,000.
Scientifically, it can be no other way.

And of course 60 feet can accommodate a 5 story building and 250,000.  And if we don’t limit our population but keep our 60 feet height limit then it is only a matter of time before the city council changes the allowed number of stories from four to five. which, since its not in the city charter, they can do on any given tuesday without a vote of the people.  The sad thing is that the No on B folks, like AN50,and all the architects and developers,  wouldn’t mind at all if the limit was changed to 5 stories because they want more tall buildings in order to implement so called high density vertical smart growth to accommodate a huge increase in population.  Why, because the No on B folks make a whole lot of money if there is more growth and tall buildings.  FOLLOW THE MONEY.

But the question becomes why should we want to do something stupid, like that when we don’t have adequate resources to handle that amount of population. 

So, from a scientists perspective, building height is all about population growth. Or should I say overpopulation to a level that no longer can live within our resources.

So if you care about the environment, vote Yes on B.

» on 08.27.09 @ 03:03 AM

I couldn’t help notice the comments on this blog are two to one in favor of Yes on B to lower building heights.

I was undecided until I read all the comments.
Anyone want to guess how I decided to vote?


» on 08.27.09 @ 05:27 AM

What convinced me to vote yes on B was the thought provoking comment that whatever that socialist Das Williams is against, I am for.

And of course all the socialists, like Mickey Flacks, urge no on B, so that they can force social engineering on us and quietly put in place socialist smart growth here.

Lets all show them what we think of socialism and vote yes on B

» on 08.27.09 @ 03:38 PM

Nice argument Less. However it does not negate what I said. Since the new height limit at its lowest could allow as many floors as the current one (an argument by your own side to housing advocates that lowering heights would not impact affordable housing goals), you can expect the same growth with the limits, and yes the buildings will be flat toped since really the 15’ your limit lops off is nothing more than gabled attic space above a 4 story building. You gain nothing and lose architectural freedom. And for what? So you can have the illusion of a suburban shopping mall downtown? For Pete’s sake you already have Paseo Nuevo for that!
Also, nice touch by your SEPV members (oh, Less don’t tell me your sending those comments under an alias, only your editor knows for sure) to write in saying they’ll change their votes based on pro B comments. You may fool the naïve reader but I got your number! Any way good luck my friend and cheers!

» on 08.27.09 @ 10:06 PM

Is it too, late to weigh in?

For what it’s worth mark me down as voting yes on measure B to lower building heights to 45 feet.

Can this somehow lower the ones recently built on Chapala?
I hope so, because I don’t want to ever gain see another one like them.

» on 08.28.09 @ 05:30 AM

No, measure B can’t lower the height of existing buildings, but it sure as hell can prevent any more of them from ever getting built.

So, please join all of us and vote yes on measure B.  In 20 years you’ll be glad you did, because Santa Barbara will still be paradise.  But if you vote no on B then our city will get 3 to 5 tall and massive new buildings built each year,  a total of between 60 to 100 monsters in 20 years, and we will have ruined paradise.

» on 08.28.09 @ 12:40 PM

Jason said:  I think the new chapala buildings fit in great with the city and the scale surrounding them. And when all you nimbys are gone those building will be appreciated by everyone in the community.

Boy, is he out of touch with the attitude of he rest of the community.  Everyone I talk to despises these buildings and plans of voting yes on B because they don’t want any more of them.

I guess this means the opinion of Jason is sort of irrelevant since it is clearly in the minority.    As its the voters who will decide this issue.  And majority rules, thank God.

» on 08.28.09 @ 04:30 PM

I have seen lots and lots of Yes on B yard signs displayed with pride on voters lawns,  but I don’t see any No on B signs at all.  I guess this is a pretty good indication of how the voters feel.


» on 08.28.09 @ 09:01 PM

By all means, be sure to Vote YES on measure B to lower building heights.

» on 08.29.09 @ 12:04 AM

Somebody tell me where I can go to get a YES ON B yard sign to put in my yard.

» on 08.30.09 @ 02:00 AM


» on 08.30.09 @ 03:47 PM

Boy Less, you’ve been a busy busy writer!

» on 08.30.09 @ 04:53 PM

My husband and I just got back from a vacation in Florida, and I read this article and all the comments.


Well the No on B crowd sure didn’t convince me that 60 feet is needed, because it appears that we can meet all our goals and accomplish everything we need to accomplish in 40 feet.

But the yes on B crowd convinced me that if we don;t vote yes on measure B that we will get a lot more monstrosities like those on Chapala. 

That was enough to convince me to vote yes on measure B and lower the heights of buildings.

» on 09.01.09 @ 12:57 AM

I just read where Judge Anderly ruled against the No on B Pro High rise crowd and found in favor of the Yes on B group of concerned citizens.

No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!

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