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Local News

Santa Barbara Council Designates Direct Relief Development a ‘Community Benefit Project’

Plans for airport property the nonprofit is purchasing from the city call for building a facility that includes a 100,000-square-foot warehouse

A warehouse across the street from Direct Relief International’s Goleta headquarters is packed with supplies nearly to the ceiling. Direct Relief is in need of more warehouse space, and on Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council gave the go-ahead to craft a resolution finding the nonprofit’s proposed development at 6100 Hollister Ave. a Community Benefit Project per city code.
A warehouse across the street from Direct Relief International’s Goleta headquarters is packed with supplies nearly to the ceiling. Direct Relief is in need of more warehouse space, and on Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council gave the go-ahead to craft a resolution finding the nonprofit’s proposed development at 6100 Hollister Ave. a Community Benefit Project per city code. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Direct Relief will have more room to build a new facility if needed now that the Santa Barbara City Council has deemed the development a “community benefit.”

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the council gave the go-ahead to craft a resolution finding the proposed development at 6100 Hollister Ave. a Community Benefit Project per city code, allocating 80,000 square feet of nonresidential floor area to the project and reserving an additional 30,000 square feet for future development.

The resolution will come back to the council for final approval.

Goleta-based Direct Relief, which directs efforts and medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters or civil unrest, is set to pay the city between $6.5 million and $8.5 million for six to eight acres of Santa Barbara Airport land, depending on final development plans.

The parcel would be subdivided, with the northern 8.5 acres going to the nonprofit to build a facility that would quadruple the space of its current headquarters at 27 S. La Patera Lane.

As operator of the largest charitable medicines program in the country, Direct Relief is in need of more warehouse space.

Santa Barbara’s Nonresidential Growth Management Program ordinance— approved by the city in 2013 — limits total new nonresidential growth to 1.35 million square feet over 20 years, of which 600,000 square feet is reserved for Community Benefit Projects.

Because Direct Relief isn’t a for-private agency, and since it falls within three qualifying categories of “community benefit,” the council approved the designation.

Those three categories are community priority projects, economic development projects and development plan-new automobile sales projects.

“This is not just a benefit for people overseas in horrible situations,” City Councilman Dale Francisco said, but a vital backup asset for local emergency-response services.

The project involves building a facility to include a 100,000-square-foot warehouse (with a potential increase to 130,000 square feet), an attached two-story 25,000 square-foot administrative office building, a truck yard loading area, 152 parking spaces, and approximately 4,970 square feet of outdoor dining area.

Direct Relief would also add a public street to run east to west between the newly subdivided parcels, and the existing on-site six main buildings and five outbuildings would be demolished.

Of the project’s proposed 155,000 square feet, 110,000 square feet would be community benefit, or 19 percent of the 581,310 square feet available for these projects over the next 18 years.

To date, the council has allocated 18,690 square feet from the community benefit category to two projects: the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and a proposed Tesla Inc. dealership.

Associate city planner Kathleen Kennedy said Direct Relief could still acquire fewer than the maximum 8.5 acres or decide to build the extra 30,000 square feet of warehouse space at another time, depending on fundraising.

Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe, who was on hand to explain the nonprofit’s benefits nationwide, previously told Noozhawk construction could begin in 2016.

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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