More housing is headed to downtown Santa Barbara.
Architect Brian Cearnal recently presented plans for a 37-unit development at 320 W. Carrillo St.
The site currently is occupied by a 3,000-square-foot commercial building and the historic Bates House, which was built in 1904, in the Queen Anne Free Classic style.
The house is behind the commercial building, and will be moved to the front.
“This is a lot of housing on this less-than-half acre,” Cearnal said.
The project would be four-stories, just under 48-feet tall, proposed under the state’s bonus density law. There is also no parking proposed for the project, which is allowed under state law since there are bus stops nearby.
“My approach to this is to create a very rational, traditional, urban apartment building,” Cearnal said.
The project went before the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission on last week, and received mostly favorable feedback from the panel. The proposal was there for a concept review and will next go to the city’s Planning Commission.
The owner is Lawrence Broida, and the applicant is listed in public documents as John Cuykendall.
The project includes seven units that will be below-market for low and very-low income residents. The make-up includes four studios, 19 one-bedrooms, 12 two-bedroom and 2 three-bedrooms, in the restored Victorian.
The developers are asking for a height exception; the limit for buildings in this area is 45 feet.
“I think it is a really good building,” said commissioner and architect Cass Ensberg. “I don’t have a problem with the height.”
Santa Barbara, like all coastal communities, is struggling with a housing shortage. State legislators have approved laws in recent years that restrict much of the power of local officials to reject housing projects.
Since 2012, Santa Barbara has approved nearly 500 housing units, most of which are rented at market-rate, and still financially out of reach for low-income workers who service most of Santa Barbara tourism industry.
New state law allows developers to build high-density housing with no parking spaces if the projects are within a half-mile of public transit.
The commissioners only expressed concerns about the windows, suggesting awnings. They also were nonplussed about a tower and suggested revisiting the design.
Commissioner Ed Lenvik expressed concerns about the lack of parking.
“Projects without parking scare me,” Lenvik said. “I could see riots in the street, people fighting over a parking space four blocks away to be able to park their car.”
However, parking is not within the purview of the Historic Landmarks Commission, so the chair of meeting, Anthony Grumbine, quieted his concerns.
The commission also wrestled a bit with whether Cearnal should provide story poles at the site to show the public the height of the building. Instead, Cearnal provided three-dimensional renderings, and resisted the idea of story poles.
“It’s a ridiculous expense,” said Cearnal, claiming that they would cost $20,000. “I would rather go door-to-door and hand out glossy renderings within 600 feet than put up story poles that are just a waste.”
The commission did not make a decision at the meeting on whether story poles were needed.
Cearnal reminded that commission that if the design review boards do not allow a height exemption, he has other options.
“By the way, per the state law, if the Planning Commission, for whatever reason, said ‘no, we’re not going to grant that,’ we would use state bonus-density concession to allow us to exceed the height,” Cearnal said.