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Friday, November 16 , 2018, 7:52 pm | Fog/Mist Smoke 57º


Santa Barbara Riviera House Remodel Sparks Second Appeal to City Council

Neighbors complain the project on Mission Ridge Road would block their views

Neighbors have twice appealed the addition planned for a Mission Ridge Road home and the owners will get a decision from the Santa Barbara City Council Tuesday.
Neighbors have twice appealed the addition planned for a Mission Ridge Road home and the owners will get a decision from the Santa Barbara City Council Tuesday.  (Jeff Shelton photo)

A little more than a year ago, Craig and Jane Morrison bought a 1963 house on Santa Barbara's Riviera.

The Colorado couple have family members in Santa Barbara, and visited several times over the years. They always knew that one day they would retire in Santa Barbara.

So they bought the house in the 1500 block of Mission Ridge Road and hired progressive architect Jeff Shelton to help them remodel the ranch house that had been virtually unchanged for more than five decades.

They thought the neighborhood would embrace them since, in their minds, they were going to improve the property value of their home and others in the area. 

But that's not how it played out.

Instead, they got a neighborhood in opposition, with residents who met several times without inviting or telling them, organizing to stop their remodel project.

They beat back the opponents once and at Tuesday's Santa Barbara City Council meeting, they will try to do it again. 

In a unusual sequence of events, Trevor Martinson, a forensic architect known well among city circles for his propensity to file appeals, has once again sought to block a resident's project, this one within a stone's throw of his own home on the Riviera. 

"This is humiliating the design process," Shelton said. "This is the most modest addition I have ever done."

The Morrisons will go before the City Council for appeal No. 2, after the council members in March rejected an appeal filed by Price, Postel & Parma, LLP, on behalf of several of the neighbors, including Rinaldo and Laila Brutoco, who have hired Martinson to represent them this time around.

The Morrisons want to build a 22-square-foot first floor addition and a 530-square-foot second-floor addition to their existing 2,146-square-foot, one-story home.

Their project also includes one new uncovered parking space, a 194-square-foot covered entry patio, a 158-square-foot, second-story deck, a raised pool and surrounding deck, and a remodel of the interior. 

Many of the neighbors opposed the project, saying it would block views and allow the Morrisons to see into people's yards and homes.

The city's Single Family Design Board approved the project, and the City Council upheld the decision in March.

But now Martinson, on behalf of the Brutocos, has appealed other aspects of the project, finding a window to do so between project design approval and final approval.

Martinson and the appellants say that the foundation detail shown on the project plans is not adequately designed to support the two-story project. 

"No two-story, or for that matter, a single-story building, can structurally support the proposed two-piece Mexican tile roof on the existing 1960-era footings and wood stud framing being proposed by the Single Family Design Board," wrote Martinson in his appeal letter.

"This erroneously approved project by the SFDP cannot be allowed to continue through the design process any further and must be corrected and sent back for further review."

Rinaldo Brutoco did not return calls as of publication deadline on Monday; his assistant said he was in Hawaii. 

They have also appealed elements of the site's drainage plan. The city did not require the Morrisons to submit a full site topography plan because the additions are within the existing building's footprint, and the land is not being changed or altered. 

City staff members, however, said concerns about structure, proper support of the house, and storm water treatment plans are typically addressed by building inspectors during the building permit process, not during the design phase. 

"These issues should be directed to the Building and Safety Division staff for resolution, not the City Council," senior planner Jaime Limon wrote in a city staff report.  

Shelton said the city should not allow these kinds of appeals because they are made to antagonize the applicant and the architect.

"We're not ruining the neighborhood," Shelton said at the March meeting.

"We're not invading people's privacy. We're not blocking views. We are adding to the charm of the neighborhood. We are adding to the value of the neighborhood."

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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