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Santa Barbara ABR OKs Three-Bedroom Apartments Project on Westside

San Andres Street site was previously approved for a condo project but developer now turning the space into apartments under city AUD incentive program

Santa Barbara’s Architectural Board of Review approved apartments planned for 1236 San Andres St. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara’s Architectural Board of Review approved apartments planned for 1236 San Andres St. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara's Westside will soon be home to four new three-bedroom apartments.

The Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review recently approved the apartments at 1236 San Andres Street. 

The project, on a 10,000-square-foot lot, was approved a decade ago as four condominiums, but in June property owner Ed St. George revised the project to fall under the city's Average Unit-size Density incentive program.

The ABR approved the project and its redesign on Nov. 13. 

"I think this is coming together," said ABR member Howard Wittausch. "I’d like to live here. It is very nice."

Two residential units and a garage totaling 1,636 square feet will be destroyed to build the new rental apartments. Three of the units would have a one-car garage and the fourth unit would have a two-car garage. The project also calls for five covered parking spaces. 

Since the city's Staff Hearing Officer had already ruled that the new project substantially conformed to the original condo project approved in 2008, the ABR's review focused mostly on color and design of the units, which would range in size from 1,034 to 1,214 square feet.

The exterior of the two-story apartments, called Casas del Parque, are colored in red, brown and white, a design that would stand out among neighboring homes.

Commissioners had disagreements over the color scheme, with some recommending more or less red paint featured on the exterior. 

The project is part of the city's AUD incentive program, which allows developers to build multiple apartments on smaller lots to encourage rental housing.

The city is struggling with a shortage of rental housing and city planners believe incentivizing developers to build housing will help increase the amount of housing for renters. About 60 percent of Santa Barbara's residents are renters. 

The 1236 San Andres St. apartment project is proposed under the city’s Average Unit-Size Density incentive program. Click to view larger
The 1236 San Andres St. apartment project is proposed under the city’s Average Unit-Size Density incentive program.  (Banyan Architects photo)

Housing advocates support the program, arguing that it would eventually create much-needed affordable housing in the community. Buying homes in Santa Barbara is out of reach for most people, advocates said, and the rental housing is in high demand.

Critics argue that the projects are often too big and dense and create too much of an impact on the neighborhoods.

Developers who build AUD projects only have to create one off-street parking place per unit, a decision that made neighborhood preservationists fear that the renters’ other cars would cramp already congested streets.

Kirk Gradin, the chair of the ABR, is the project's architect and stepped down from the meeting to represent the property owner for the meeting.  

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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