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Santa Barbara Review Board Supports Plans for MacKenzie Park Dog Space

Fiat–Chrysler is also planning a temporary sales office and show room during construction of a new Hitchcock Way dealership

The MacKenzie Park off-leash dog space plans include a new entrance plaza and separate areas for small and large dogs. Click to view larger
The MacKenzie Park off-leash dog space plans include a new entrance plaza and separate areas for small and large dogs. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Dogs residing in Santa Barbara’s Upper State Street neighborhoods may soon be allowed to go on leash-free adventures, pending a new dog park planned for the area’s MacKenzie Park.

The off-leash space was one of several projects to go before the city’s Architectural Board of Review on Monday.

The roughly half-acre at the eastern-most end of the park, wedged between State Street and the upper end of De La Vina Street, would be redesigned with a new entrance and plaza as well as separate spaces for large and small dogs.

Though the project is slated to come back to the ABR for another quick review, the board reviewed it favorably.

The dog park would be the first fully fenced off-leash area in the city, said George Thompson, project management supervisor with the Parks and Recreation Department.

“The aesthetics of the park won’t be changed drastically from the current condition,” he told the board.

The underutilized corner of the park contains a vacant youth activities building that would be demolished. The Parks and Recreation Department also planned to remove several small trees to make way for the entrance plaza.

The only real sticking point for a few of the board members was the removal of two trees in particular, a coast live oak and a strawberry tree. The board asked that the department consider an alternative entrance and plaza layout that would spare them.

The separate, fenced-off areas for small and large dogs would have their own double-gated entries where the leashes would be taken off.

A temporary sales office and showroom is proposed during construction of a new Fiat–Chrysler dealership. Click to view larger
A temporary sales office and showroom is proposed during construction of a new Fiat–Chrysler dealership. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

“We found through our research that it is good to segregate large dogs from small dogs, mostly for safety concerns,” Thompson said.

The space would also feature benches and dog water bowels.

At a June Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, the department estimated that the price tag to take the project through construction would be $315,000.

The ABR also voiced support for a temporary sales office and showroom proposed by Fiat–Chrysler, which is building a permanent dealership at 350 Hitchcock Way.

The 21-foot-tall, 3,600-square-foot aluminum and fabric building would somewhat resemble a tent, and would have large glass windows so customers and passersby can see the cars within.

The building would be accompanied by a restroom trailer for customers and landscaping work.

Trish Allen, the project agent with Suzanne Elledge Planning and Permitting Services, said the building would be there for an estimated 17 months as the permanent dealership is constructed behind.

The board’s primary concern with the project — echoed by city planning staff — was that there was no hard end date for the temporary structure, which would take about three and a half weeks to put up.

Future examination of the proposal should include determining a way to set an enforceable date for it to come down, board chair Kirk Gradin said.

Because it’s temporary, however, board members said that the lack of traditional Santa Barbara-style architecture was acceptable.

“It’s where architecture meets industrial design,” said board member Howard Wittausch. “It’s kind of a neat project.”

Allen said that the project team is hoping for a building permit for the permanent dealership by the end of the year.

The dealership will feature Alfa Romeo and Maserati vehicles, two Italian luxury brands that are subsidiaries of Fiat–Chrysler.

The ABR also examined new housing projects proposed throughout the city.

Seventy-two Spanish colonial-style condominiums are planned for the site of the former Sandman Inn at 3714 State St., a hotel and restaurant/event center that closed down in 2015.

The site will also feature over 5,000 square feet of office space.

A tweak to the unit layout in one of the proposed townhome buildings brought it back to the ABR.

Two projects proposed under the city’s Average Unit Density program were examined again by the board, including one at 321 E. Micheltorena St.

That development would remove paving and fencing to construct three three-bedroom units alongside an existing one-story, three-bedroom unit.

The building would be three stories high, a size too big for several board members, most of whom recommended that developers either reduce the bulk of the top floor or remove it altogether.

That project will be back to the ABR in two weeks.

A second AUD project is proposed for 1116 San Pascual St. A two-story duplex is planned to go alongside an existing 675-square-foot family dwelling, and would necessitate the demolition of a garage and shed.

The project includes two two-bedroom units and, like the other AUD project, will be back to the board, which expressed overall satisfaction with the latest version.

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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