Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 8:05 pm | Fair 64º


Local News

Santa Barbara Architectural Board Re-Examines Housing Projects

The developers of three separate housing projects working within Santa Barbara’s Average Unit Density Program returned to the city’s Architectural Board of Review Monday hoping to proceed with their developments.

The board examined designs for projects at 15 S. Hope Ave., 116 E. Cota St., and 226 S. Voluntario St.

The Hope Avenue project, owned by Johnman Holding, LLC, is a four-story, 45-foot-tall mixed-use building featuring 13 studio apartments, 30 one-bedroom units, and three two-bedroom units over 41,000 square feet.

The project would include 51 total parking spaces as well as restoration at the adjacent Arroyo Burro Creek.

While it received favorable reviews from the board members and won project design approval, the project will be heading back to the ABR with finer details on its exterior minutiae.

One of the concerns brought up by a couple of the location’s neighbors was privacy; the height of the building could give the projects’ future residents a view into their neighbors’ patios.

Board members also expressed their concern about its deviation from the traditional Spanish colonial style of architecture prevalent throughout the city.

The design is a slightly more modest version of one presented to the ABR last August, which sported two more units and over 2,000 more residential square footage. It was reviewed by the city Planning Commission in October.

The Cota project, owned by Cota Street, LLC, faced its third concept review after a 58-foot version was hammered by the ABR in February, and a shorter design was considered to be encroaching too close to the street in March.

Last time, the ABR voted unanimously to send it to the Planning Commission for further review.

The now-45-foot, four-story building would be next to Playa Vera Cruz, and would host 15 two-bedroom units over first-floor commercial space.

After commending the developer for design improvements, the four members of the board present for the review split 2–2 on whether to send the project again to the Planning Commission, primarily for its effect on the Playa Vera Cruz park.

“It’s a rather large building in an area that’s very mixed, with many two-story and many one-story,” said chairman Kirk Graden.

“I think it is pushing conceptual boundaries in a number of areas," Graden added. "So to have other eyes looking at it — planning commissioners see if from a different perspective from architects and designers — I think it would be useful. They might see things that we’re not seeing,” he said.

Clay Aurell, the project architect from AB Design Studios, insisted the project’s revisions satisfactorily addressed the board’s concerns.

“I think we’ve been working really closely with you all to better the project, and I think it’s really moving along nicely,” he said.

“I’d like you all to reconsider the need to go to Planning Commission if at all possible, and move this forward. We’re really excited to get this project built and house some people. And given the housing issues we’re all dealing with, I think it would be great to move it faster.”

Edward St. George’s Voluntario Street project finished up the particularly lengthy meeting with unanimous approval for its project design review.

It proposes a two-story duplex and two-story dwelling unit. The review came after a public hearing before the ABR in December.

The city’s AUD program, created by an ordinance approved in 2013, is in response to the squeezing out of middle class residents as higher-income, tech-oriented professionals flock to Santa Barbara.

The goal is to construct smaller and more affordable housing near commercial services, parks, and public transit.

As of last month, 209 units have been approved under the program, while 337 are pending approval.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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