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Santa Barbara Council to Hear Appeal to Arlington Village Development

Neighboring property owner raises concerns about compatibility and traffic around the project slated for Sola and Chapala streets

The proposed Arlington Village mixed-use project in downtown Santa Barbara had its design approved by the city Historic Landmarks Commission in August, but a neighboring property owner has filed an appeal that will be heard Tuesday by the Santa Barbara City Council.

Marge Cafarelli, from Alma del Pueblo owner Urban Developments, LLC filed the appeal because of concerns about neighborhood compatibility and traffic, particularly with the loading and unloading associated with Arlington Theatre events.

The Arlington Theatre is sandwiched between the Alma del Pueblo site, which is under construction, and the parking lot at Sola and Chapala streets that would be developed into 33 rental apartments and two commercial units as Arlington Village.

The theater management supports the new project. 

Arlington Village, designed by Peikert Group Architects, includes three-story buildings and a semi-subterranean parking structure with 42 spaces, plus 49 surface spots. The units are mostly one- and two-bedroom apartments, and the buildings’ tallest point is at 40 feet, 2 inches tall.

Project planner Allison De Busk gave the council members a tour of the site at Sola and Chapala streets on Monday afternoon, and explained where the shared driveway — off of Chapala Street — and new driveway to Sola Street would be placed.

There have been some changes since the Historic Landmarks Commission gave approval, including that second driveway on Sola Street, eliminating a driveway on Chapala Street and keeping some spaces empty for large trucks to maneuver in and out of the theater area, she said.

Due to concern about buses and trucks loading into the Arlington Theatre for shows, the project has a truck access and management plan as a condition of its approval.

City Project planner Allison De Busk, left, shows Santa Barbara City Council members which trees would be removed to make room for the Sola Street driveway into and out of the Arlington Village development. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

It’s “unusual because it requires so much day-to-day management and oversight, but staff concluded that the plan was adequate if followed by the operator of the project,” according to the city’s staff report.

De Busk said only one bus or truck would have access at a time, and others would need to stage off-site.

In addition to Cafarelli’s concerns, residents at previous meetings were worried about traffic in the downtown area and construction staging, which is expected to result in some short-term closures of Sola Street.

The Metropolitan Transit District bus stop on Sola Street will be moved closer to State Street to make room for the new driveway.

The project would also eliminate the 125-spot parking lot that’s available for public parking for a fee now.

The Arlington Hotel Garden Arch on the southeast corner of Sola and Chapala is a city-designated "structure of merit," so it will stay.

During the site visit, council members asked for more specifics of the traffic-management plan to be presented at Tuesday’s 2 p.m. meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.

They will decide whether to deny the appeal and uphold the HLC’s approval of the project, as staff recommends, or grant the appeal and overturn the approval.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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