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Local News

Coast Village Road Condo Project Rankles Nearby Residents in Montecito

Three-story development proposed next to Starbucks, to replace an existing apartment building on the 1000 block

Neighbors of a planned three-story mixed-use project at 1062 Coast Village Road worry the condominium building’s windows and balconies will overlook their homes. Click to view larger
Neighbors of a planned three-story mixed-use project at 1062 Coast Village Road worry the condominium building’s windows and balconies will overlook their homes.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Neighbors are pushing back on a proposed three-story condominium project near Starbucks on Coast Village Road.

Architect Brian Cearnal and his client, the David Back Revocable Trust, want to demolish a 10,872-square-foot, 14-unit apartment building, carport and 10 mature pine trees to build a 22,312-square-foot, three-story mixed-use development at 1062 Coast Village Road in Santa Barbara.

The new development would consist of nine two-bedroom condominium units, 989 net new square feet of commercial space, and a subterranean garage with 24 parking spaces.

It has sparked outrage among homeowners who live behind the project, in Montecito.

The buildings include windows, roof decks and a balcony that overlook backyards and bedrooms of the nearby development.  

“We’re going to become animals in a zoo and we don’t want that,” said nearby resident Sascha Liebowitz.

Liebowitz was one of the residents who spoke at a recent Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review meeting to discuss the project. She said she has tried to work with Cearnal, but there’s been little progress since they spoke recently at a public meeting.

“Brian is a charming guy and he said ‘oh yeah that looks terrible, we’ll definitely look at that,’ and then we met again and nothing changed, and then we met with him again and nothing changed,” Liebowitz said. “Here we are looking at the same windows, balconies and roof decks over our house.”

She urged the ABR members to come to her home and look around at the area.

“We live here,” she said. “This is our family home. This is our neighborhood. This is a radical shift. This is gonna change the view from the whole street.”

Cearnal’s project is in the early stages and has a long road ahead. The July 3 ABR meeting was a concept review and the project must eventually go before the Santa Barbara Planning Commission.

An architectural rendering shows the current plans for the three-story mixed-use development on Coast Village Road near Starbucks. Click to view larger
An architectural rendering shows the current plans for the three-story mixed-use development on Coast Village Road near Starbucks.  (Contributed photo)

In addition, even though Coast Village Road is within the city of Santa Barbara, there’s a memorandum of understanding between the city and the county that any project on Coast Village Road must go to the Montecito Planning Commission for review.

Next to Starbucks, the existing apartments are currently hidden behind a wall that also shields a carport; it’s one of those places that you don’t notice unless you are looking for it.

But the new for-sale condominium development would have nine private garages with elevator and stair connections to the residential units.

“It has been a real interesting geometric problem to make that vertical circulation work,” Cearnal said.

The existing pine trees would come down in favor of a mix of new trees, including, jacarandas, canary island pines, California sycamores and Magnolia trees, which would take five-to-seven years to provide equal tree coverage to what’s there today.

Cearnal hopes the trees would shield the neighbors.

“We are trying to buffer the view of the building from the neighbors as much as possible,” Cearnal said.

Many of the units will have roof decks, Cearnal said, as a way for the project to provide the required open space.

“One of the reasons for the roof deck is to create nice, usable open space for these nine units,” Cearnal said.

But that’s one of the things that is causing the problems for the residents.

“They look down into our backyard,” said resident Timothy Harding. “I just think it is too many windows looking down into our backyard.”

He said he hopes the fact that his home is in Montecito and the project is in Santa Barbara, doesn’t mean his opinion will be valued less.

“The fact that we are in Montecito and the building is in Santa Barbara, I hope it doesn’t cause a problem,” Harding said. “I hope we have the same rights as if we were in the city, but I understand it is complicated.”

Members of the ABR said they liked the design of the project, but that the neighbors’ concerns should be addressed.

“That should be addressed to the satisfaction of both parties,” board member Howard Wittausch said. “There should be give and take. The architecture and the landscape architecture is fine with me.”

ABR member Kevin Moore said Cearnal should consider different floor plan layouts. “The roof decks are pretty massive,” he said.

ABR member Lisa LaPlaca said the plans are “surprisingly large.”

She added, “I think the project is really beautiful, but addressing those concerns is important and I think can be done.”

Cearnal said there is work to be done.

“I have an inherent problem that I have bedrooms that have to have windows,” Cearnal said. “We have a long road here.”

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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