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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 8:24 pm | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 
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Dorm-Style Project Near SBCC Proposed by Private Developer

Development plan put forward by Ed St. George calls for tripliing the site's current capacity to 1,200 to 1,500 students

As many as 1,500 students — triple the current number — would be housed at 801 Cliff Drive, adjacent to Santa Barbara City College’s West Campus, under a proposal under review by the city of Santa Barbara.
As many as 1,500 students — triple the current number — would be housed at 801 Cliff Drive, adjacent to Santa Barbara City College’s West Campus, under a proposal under review by the city of Santa Barbara. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

A high-profile housing complex near Santa Barbara City College would expand to house triple the number of students in dormitory-style accommodations, under plans submitted to the city of Santa Barbara.

A preliminary proposal has been filed for the complex currently known as “Beach City,” owned by developer Ed St. George, which sits in the 800 block of Cliff Drive and currently had about 490 beds for renters, according to city planner Dan Gullett.

The property’s purchase last year for more than $33 million made it the largest sale of multi-family property in the history of the city and the largest on the South Coast since 2010.

The city in late June reviewed a very early proposal for changes to the property, which sits diagonally across from McKinley School and borders SBCC’s West Campus.

The property is at 801 Cliff Drive, Gullett said, and is listed as 6.72 acres, a “good portion” of which is the Arroyo Honda habitat, a riparian corridor considered environmentally sensitive.

The proposal describes a 1,200- to 1,500-student housing complex, and because of the scope of the project, the city encouraged the developer to do another pre-application “to work out big-picture items,” Gullett said.

Some of those items deal with setbacks from Arroyo Honda as well as right-of-way specification to the project, which have been changed because the city now owns Cliff Drive.

The project would be permitted as a boarding house under a conditional-use permit, and would keep the oldest four buildings on the property and demolish three others, Gullett said.

The kitchens now located in the individual units would be taken out to add more bedrooms, and a shared dining commons area more similar to a dormitory would be added, Gullett said.

While the city would like SBCC to be involved in the process, the planner said that the college doesn’t have any direct involvement at this time.

The dormitory proposal would include the prohibition of housing cars on site, more details of which would need to be worked out, he said.

The applicant is Suzanne Elledge Planning and Development, and the owner listed is Unknown Dreams, LLC, which is owned by St. George.

St. George said Tuesday that his group is excited about the positive aspects the project will bring to the Mesa and surrounding neighborhoods.

"It will be the first ever built student housing project built around the students and the community's needs and our desire is that it will help ease the local problems that neighborhoods are currently experiencing with student group housing," he said.

Key to the project will be management and security, and Beach City currently has two to four security guards patrolling each night, which has brought positive results, he said.

"The proposed project will be secured by design from the inside out so security will be enhanced ten-fold," he said, adding that the current management team has been handpicked from campuses across the country.

"The bottom line is "Will a student want to live in group housing where the neighbors are constantly calling the police on them or live in a community where 1,500 other students live with all the amenities of a five-star hotel?" he asked.

The group will be holding a town meeting for the project on Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 1740 Cliff Drive.

"I invite everyone from the neighborhoods to attend so we can understand any and all concerns," he said.

The new pre-application will likely come before city staff in January for internal review, and the city’s Architectural Board of Review could look at the plans as soon as late January.

On a NextDoor neighborhood message board, news of the potential development spread, prompting SBCC President Lori Gaskin to respond to some of the comments; she explained that the college’s enrollment is actually decreasing and has been for the last six years.

“It is important to remember that we are legally mandated to be an open-access institution, meaning we must accept everyone who walks through our doors,” she wrote.

UCSB and SBCC are different because “UCSB is in a well publicized growth mode. SBCC is not growing — rather we have been declining in enrollment.,” she said, adding that the proposal for Cliff Drive was from a private developer and not SBCC.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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