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Taco Bell Runs Into Goleta Challenge as Design Board Puts Off Approval of New Plan

Current North Fairview Avenue restaurant will soon be demolished, but committee has problems with aspects of replacement structure

The Taco Bell at 140 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta will soon be torn down, but the scope and scale of its replacement building has some design officials wary of some of the changes. Click to view larger
The Taco Bell at 140 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta will soon be torn down, but the scope and scale of its replacement building has some design officials wary of some of the changes. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo )

The Taco Bell on North Fairview Avenue in Goleta is headed for demolition, but city planners aren’t ready to approve the design of the new building that will house the fast-food restaurant.

Plans call for a building with a smaller footprint, but a taller, bulkier structure than the recessed rooftop and building that is there now.

The new restaurant will have 15 parking spaces instead of the current 18. Taco Bell also plans to change its angled parking into perpendicular spaces. Right now, because the cars are parked at an angle when motorists pull in from Fairview, there is an illusion of a one-way entrance, when the entrance actually doubles as an exit.

“If you took away the Taco Bell sign you probably wouldn’t even know it was a Taco Bell,” said Hugh Murphy, president, CEO and principal architect of VMI Architecture in San Rafael. “We really have gone away from the branding.”

The Taco Bell, at 140 N. Fairview Ave. just north of Calle Real, is one of two restaurants in transition in the immediate area. Rusty’s Pizza is moving a few blocks east on Calle Real to open an art deco-style building next to Fresco Café North

The Goleta Design Review Committee wasn’t thrilled with Taco Bell’s design. With committee chairman Carl Schneider abstaining, the six other panel members voted to postpone a decision on the design for a month.

“As a whole, I am not a big fan of the architecture,” Schneider said. “I am certainly not against tearing the existing one down and rebuilding it.”

Ron Garber, who owns the building housing VCA Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital behind Taco Bell, spoke out about the project. He said the Taco Bell building is designed attractively from the front, but he has a problem from the rear, where his building is located at 160 N. Fairview Ave.

“From our side, things are changing a considerable amount,” he said. “Essentially, on that side, we are going to have a 20-foot wall.”

Garber said the new building looks like a “big square block,” and he would like to see the façade stair-stepped to relieve the bulkiness.

The committee members instructed the architect to replace some of the site’s proposed plants with drought-tolerant vegetation, to consider planting a vine against the back wall to soften the look, and to add trellising on the patio.

“This is definitely an improvement over traditional Taco Bell architecture,” design committee member Thomas Smith said.

Find a rendering of the proposed project 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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