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Santa Barbara City Council Upholds Plan to Remove Trees for Coast Village Road Project

Montecito Association unsuccessfully appealed the Parks & Recreation Commission's OK to remove two healthy Canary Island pines for shopping center project

The Santa Barbara City Council upheld a developer’s approval to remove the large Canary Island pine trees, seen here, during a construction project at the 1187 Coast Village Rd. shopping center.
The Santa Barbara City Council upheld a developer’s approval to remove the large Canary Island pine trees, seen here, during a construction project at the 1187 Coast Village Rd. shopping center.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk file photo)

Coast Village Road will lose two healthy trees, but the developer behind a plan to jazz up a popular Montecito-area shopping center plans to replace them in the median across the street.

The Santa Barbara City Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday to deny the Montecito Association's attempt to save the trees.

"It's disappointing to see them go, but it is great to see this complex that is very dated and tired getting spruced up," Councilman Harwood "Bendy" White said.

"It is going to be a real addition to Coast Village Road."

H&R investments, the owners of 1187 Coast Village Rd., plan to chop down two trees, paving the way for dramatic changes to its 18,869-square-foot shopping center. 

The developers want to build a new outdoor dining deck area near where the trees stand now. The trees also contribute to "leaf litter," which H&R investments says creates a safety hazard.

The owners plan to build the new dining area, replace the exterior columns and alter the driveway to make it less steep.

The two Canary Island pine trees that will come down share a trunk and stand next to the driveway on the east side of the development. 

The city also approved a modification for the project, which allows the decks to intrude within the required 10-foot street setback of the street.

The Montecito Association supports the changes to the shopping area, which is home to Giovanni's, but members believed the developer could move forward and still save the trees.

Cindy Feinberg, president of the Montecito Association, said she wants to save the semi-rural character of the community.

"We feel it is imperative to deny the removal of the pine trees to preserve the character and heritage of Coast Village Road," Feinberg said.

"We don't want Coast Village Road to become just another strip mall."

The members of the council acknowledged that chopping down the trees would have an impact on the area, but Heidi Jones, an agent with Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permitting Services, the firm hired to represent the property owners, called the impact on the public "short-term." 

The current trees are between 40 and 60 years old. The developer plans to plant a flame tree at the site of the Canary Island Pines that share a trunk, but that tree will likely only be 15 feet when planted. It could take 30 years before it reaches the height of the existing trees. 

Councilman Gregg Hart pushed for a compromise, requesting that in addition to the flame tree that the developer plant some trees in the blank median east of the site. 

"There are a lot of opportunities to plant in that area," Hart said. "The medians provide a unique opportunity to put back some of the street trees."

The matter will return to the Santa Barbara City Council Nov. 10 for a decision on what type of trees to plant in the median. 

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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