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Santa Barbara Council Grants Parker Family More Time to Build Cabrillo Boulevard Hotel

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday approved a five-year extension for the Parker family to develop a hotel on Cabrillo Boulevard.

The family's most famous member, the late Fess Parker, was an actor known for playing frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

In a 6-1 vote, with Councilwoman Cathy Murillo dissenting, the council approved the agreement that also allows the developers to transfer some of their development rights to the neighboring Fess Parker, a Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

The new hotel, to be built on the 500 block of Cabrillo Boulevard across Calle César Chávez from the Fess Parker, could be as large as 150 rooms and two to three stories tall.

The project received original approval in 1981 and developers have since made improvements to the surrounding street and sidewalks as well as expanded the adjacent Chase Palm Park, per the development agreement.

In March, the Parker family asked the city for a 10-year extension to build the hotel and requested a change to the zoning ordinance that would allow the Parkers to transfer some of their development rights to the Doubletree.

The family plans to build the new hotel smaller with fewer than 150 rooms, which would allow them to build the unused space on the existing hotel's property. 

“I continue to object to the expansion of the Fess Parker hotel without any public discussion about what that expansion would look like,” Murillo said following the vote.

Last month, City Council voted 4–2 for a five-year extension for the hotel — a vote that did not put the issue to rest since five votes are required for approving a development agreement extension. Councilman Randy Rowse was absent for that vote.

With a tighter timetable, the Parkers downsized the scope of the proposed hotel and went to work with city staff revising the terms of the agreement. The family is now only going for 50 rooms.

With Tuesday’s six votes, the agreement now explicitly states that after the extension expires, so does the now-35-year-old right to build 150 rooms.

A transfer of existing development rights is also now on a square-footage basis, rather than a room-for-room basis.

The Fess Parker resort will not necessarily have the ability to build up to 100 of the Parkers’ now-unbuilt rooms, but develop its property to the equivalent square footage of the rooms transferred to that property. 

The developers have five years to obtain a building permit for the hotel, with an extra two years added on for them to apply to transfer development rights. Transferred along with any development rights will be credit for prior environmental mitigations including the street improvements. 

The revisions to the agreement also included language excluding monetary compensation from the city in the event that the city fails to uphold part of the agreement.

The concern for the city’s attorneys was that a voter-approved initiative or a future city council could enact ordinances or rules that inadvertently contradict the development agreement.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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