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Governor Signs Bill Giving Santa Barbara School District Chance to Buy Armory Building

Santa Barbara Unified School District has until July 2017 to decide if it wants to purchase the property located between the Santa Barbara junior and high schools

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last week that will give the city and the Santa Barbara Unified School District the first option to buy the National Guard Armory building located at 700 E. Canon Perdido St. Click to view larger
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last week that will give the city and the Santa Barbara Unified School District the first option to buy the National Guard Armory building located at 700 E. Canon Perdido St.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The city of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Unified School District are one step closer to purchasing the Santa Barbara National Guard Armory.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2247 into law last week, approving the local agencies the first option to purchase the downtown armory located between Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High School.

The governor’s approval authorizes the Department of General Services to grant the city and school district the option to buy the armory on or before July 1, 2017.

This property was authorized for sale last year by SB 536, a bill that allowed the California Military Department to lease and sell seven specified armory sites, including the Santa Barbara location. 

Assemblymember Das Williams proposed AB 2247 to give Santa Barbara agencies an extra year to decide if they want to purchase the property. 

By acquiring the property nestled between schools, at 700 E. Canon Perdido St., the building location is ideal for collaboration with educational and recreational programs, Williams said.

“There are myriad opportunities for collaboration with this building,” Williams said in a statement. “Educators and decision-makers need facilities for afterschool or other recreational activities and this prime piece of real estate could be the perfect hub for learning.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara Executive Director Diana Oplinger also agreed the armory is an ideal spot for collaboration with the nonprofit and nearby youth services. The club is less than a block northeast of the armory.

“This would be a fantastic opportunity for us and the educational center would present a variety of possibilities,” Oplinger said. “We are always excited for opportunities to partner with other agencies.”

The Board of Trustees of the Santa Barbara Unified School District has placed a passage of bond measure I2016 ​on the Nov. 8 ballot to purchase of the armory property for educational and community benefits for both students and adults, according to Santa Barbara Unified School District

“We look forward to transforming the site from a little-used property to a thriving educational center,” Keyani said.

“It will be a great asset for our students and our community. Bond Measures I and J represent an investment by local residents in the future of our community’s children by providing safety upgrades, improving the learning environment and supporting 21st-century learning.”

Former school district superintendent Dave Cash said the district had the vision of creating a career technical education center at the site. 

The city and school district have been working together to buy the property for more than 20 years, City Administrator Paul Casey said.

“This has been a long time community goal to acquire the property for community uses,” Casey said. “We are pleased that the legislation has passed that gives us the opportunity to do so.” 

If the option expires, the property will be offered for sale by general bid at fair market value, according to a bill analysis.

The California Military Department estimates the property’s value is between $15 and $25 million, according to the bill analysis.

An assessor’s report needs to be completed to determine a set price for the armory, which has been used for occasional National Guard trainings. 

The property price depends on negotiations between Santa Barbara Unified and the National Guard.

The armory has been empty besides a leasing agreement with the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club. 

The pre-World War II, Spanish Revival style property sits on approximately 4.7 acres and includes a 27,000-square-foot building. 

The National Guard acquired the site in 1935 and in 1988 it was designated a city landmark

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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