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Santa Barbara Council Designates Two City Landmarks, Declines on La Arcada Building

The Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero Building on Anacapa Street and the Live Oak Dairy Building on North Milpas Street are recognized

La Arcada on State Street was built in 1926 and was designed as a mixed-use residential and restaurant destination. The Santa Barbara City Council has declined to designate it a city landmark because of opposition by the property owner. Click to view larger
La Arcada on State Street was built in 1926 and was designed as a mixed-use residential and restaurant destination. The Santa Barbara City Council has declined to designate it a city landmark because of opposition by the property owner. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara City Council has designated two buildings as city landmarks.

The council voted 6-0 this week to designate as city landmarks the Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero Building at 924 Anacapa St. and the Live Oak Dairy Building at 901 N. Milpas St.

Although the Historic Landmarks Commission proposed also designating La Arcada at 1110-1114 State St. as a landmark, the council declined because the property owner is opposed.

The La Arcada building was built in 1926 and was designed as a mixed-use residential and restaurant destination on State Street by architect Myron Hunt in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

The property owner, however, opposed the designation out of concern that the designation would result in additional governmental review and approval requirements as well as impose additional costs.

“There is no doubt the La Arcada building is historically significant,” Gregory Faulkner of Mullen & Henzell wrote. “As staff has observed, our client has been an excellent steward of the building, and as a result it remains an 'icon' of Santa Barbara. It is important to note that the La Arcada building has been and remains an iconic building without any historic designation by the city."

Faulkner noted that State Street has seen a dramatic loss in retail business in recent years, and La Arcada, too, has taken a hit. Faulkner said he wouldn't want to see the designation result in a longer review process.

“Our client will continue to maintain and operate the property in a way that protects and preserves its historic character and importance, irrespective of a historic designation,” he wrote.

The council members agreed.

“I am not entirely comfortable, if the owners don’t want it,” Mayor Cathy Murillo said. “La Arcada has a great reputation. Their tenants are really happy there. I understand they charge reasonable leasing costs, and everybody is really happy there. I’d like to honor their request."

City staff says that the landmark designation doesn’t hurt the property owner because it is largely ceremonial. The designation is designed to recognize attention to detail, materials and craftsmanship that cannot be duplicated. The properties are important features that contribute to the city’s “unique historical and architectural traditions.”

Landmarks, according to Historic Landmarks Commissioner Anthony Grumbine, also cannot be demolished.

He also said the processes would be the same for La Arcada regardless of designation. If, for example, the property owner wanted to change or replace all of the windows, the owner still would have to go through a review and approval process, including before the Historic Landmarks Commission. 

Councilman Gregg Hart urged city staff to meet directly with the property owners to try to explain the process to them so that they could give consent to the landmarks designation. 

"They have been incredible stewards of this property," Hart said. "I think this property is a landmark. I think the property owners recognize it as a landmark. We just need a little more conversation."

There was no dispute over designating the two other buildings as landmarks. 

The Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero Building was originally built as a hotel for businesswomen and opened in March 1927.

The Inn was designed by Julia Morgan, in the Italian Mediterranean style, with Roman arched openings on the first floor. The building's location, design, materials, setting, feeling, association, and workmanship have not been altered and it conveys its original 1926-27 appearance, according to a city staff report. 

The Live Oak Dairy was designed in 1939 by Alexander C. D’Alfonso, a builder and contractor in Santa Barbara. The building, on the northwest corner of Milpas and East Canon Perdido streets, features a canted front entrance with round awning, rounded engaged columns, and stepped piers rising to the central platform supporting the iconic cow statue, according to Nicole Hernandez, the city's Urban Historian.

The building is considered a "Streamline Moderne" and largely looks the same as it did in 1939. 

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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