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12-Unit Rental Duplex and House Project Proposed for Westside

Developer Ed St. George wants to build homes for working families

The Architectural Board of Review has given design approval to a 12-unit project, proposed by developer Ed St. George, on Santa Barbara’s Westside. Click to view larger
The Architectural Board of Review has given design approval to a 12-unit project, proposed by developer Ed St. George, on Santa Barbara’s Westside. (Contributed)

The Architectural Board of Review has given design approval to a 12-unit project, proposed by developer Ed St. George, on Santa Barbara's Westside.

St. George wants to demolish an existing duplex and three single-family homes to build five duplexes and two-single family homes, for a total of 12 units.

The ABR determined at its July 31 meeting that the project was exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review.

The project at 1220 and 1222 San Andres Street is part of the high density Average Unit-Size Density Incentive Program, but rather than build rental apartments, St. George has opted to build rental duplexes and homes, he said, to serve Santa Barbara working famiiles.

“I am proud of the project,” St. George told Noozhawk. “Apartment buildings don't really do it for me. They don’t resonate with me.”

The city Average Unit-Size Density Incentive Program has sparked controversy on multiple levels.

Some city preservationists believe the city is letting developers run rampant, proposing high-density housing projects that are threatening the small-town character of the community. Others say that the developers plan to knock down existing, old housing that is affordable to the working class, to build new units that will be out of reach to the people who once lived at the sites.

Since 2013, developers have been attempting to cash in on the incentive program, and large rental apartment projects are popping up all over town.

The city has approved projects for a total of 317 medium- and high-density units, with 470 more in the pipeline. The city has issued 165 building permits under the AUD program so far.

St. George, who grew up in Santa Barbara, said he lived among Hispanic families and intends this project to serve them. He said the rental duplexes and houses could serve multiple generations, including grandparents.

“I know the Hispanic market really well,” St. George said.

Six buildings will have two stories and one building will have three stories. The unit mix will include five 3-bedroom units, six 2-bedroom units, and one 1-bedroom unit, ranging in size from 673 to 1,184 square feet.

St. George plans to offer 14 uncovered and three covered parking spaces, for a total of 17 spaces. Since it’s an AUD project, developers only have to provide one parking space per unit, but St. George is “overparking” the project.

“I think parking is huge, especially for families,” St. George said.

The development also includes 12 covered bicycle parking spaces.

The developer plans to remove nine trees. St. George wanted to keep healthy avocado trees, but the city wants them removed because they are not native.

St. George has a concurrent project, a three-story proposal to house a hotel, commercial space and a public art gallery at 302 and 308 W. Montecito St., near West Beach. Four apartments and 517 square feet of office space would be demolished to make way for the hotel project.

St. George also proposed a dorm-style project near Santa Barbara City College that would have housed as many as 1,500 students. He pulled the proposal after encountering intense neighborhood opposition, but told Noozhawk on Monday that he promises to bring the project back down the road.

St. George also owns hundreds of units in Isla Vista for students, and acknowledges that he provides housing for students and working families.

St. George said he is also no fan of developers stacking as many rental apartments as possible on an AUD site.

“I grew up in this town,” St. George said. “I love this town. I could have left this town a long time ago and made a lot of money.”

He said large employers need to build housing for their employees.

“I think employers need to take a little more responsibility for their employees,” St. George said. “All but three of my employees rent from me. That is is what you do if you want to have employees last a long time.”

The ABR was pleased with the development.

"It's a very nice project,” said board member Howard Wittausch.

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

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