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Local News

Miramar Project Appealed, Will Be Heard by Santa Barbara County Supervisors

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will get final say on plans for the Miramar Beach Resort & Bungalows after two appeals were filed against the conditional project approval, which was granted last month by the Montecito Planning Commission.

Caruso Affiliated developers and a Los Angeles couple who owns a home near the proposed hotel site on 16 acres overlooking Miramar Beach oppose the commission’s Jan. 21 approval, which placed certain restrictions on parking, event attendance and more.

Monday was the last day to appeal the decision, and a Board of Supervisors hearing date had not yet been scheduled, according to county staff.

Richard and Dana Pachulski filed the first appeal Jan. 27, asking supervisors to better examine the loss of public street parking and impacts to traffic, existing water supply and the projected demand.

The couple’s residence is on Miramar Avenue, adjacent to the proposed development and five bungalows set to have self-parking.

Developers filed a formal objection two days later, upset commissioners “arbitrarily” limited event capacity from a proposed 400 to 350 and reduced Miramar Beach Club membership from 200 to 100, “a decision that not only creates significant obstacles for the successful operation and financing of the project but is also unsupported by the evidence presented,” according to the appeal.

Supervisors already approved limiting club membership to 200 initially — with the possibility of eventually raising it to 300 — in 2011, which was backed by a county-conducted analysis of parking, the appeal stated.

The privately-held Los Angeles real estate firm has waited eight years for the right combination of financing and approval after buying the property in 2007, twice receiving approval for past iterations of the project in 2008 and 2011.

The scaled-back project design submitted last fall featured 170 guest rooms instead of 186, including 27 oceanfront rooms and suites, and a freestanding presidential suite.

Developers also requested in the appeal to revise excursion-bus parking and pick-up restrictions so buses could idle anywhere on the hotel property (not just in the main valet entrance) and to change a condition so the Montecito Planning Commission could review the parking situation 24 to 36 months after occupancy, instead of 36 to 42 months after.

In a statement, Caruso Affiliated called commission approval “a step in the right direction,” but one with imposed conditions not based on fact. 

“Based on analyses from our traffic expert and parking consultant, coupled with the independent review by the County’s Public Works Department, we do not see a justification in the reduction of these uses,” the firm said. “We will ask the Board of Supervisors to restore the number of memberships and event attendees to allow the hotel to operate as designed for maximum community enjoyment. We continue to thank the community for its overwhelming support of the project, and we look forward to moving ahead as soon as possible.”

Caruso Affiliated had planned to begin building on the former hotel site in June, with completion in summer 2017, after raising more than $200 million in financing for the project.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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