Golden Inn Village
The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission discussed the Golden Inn & Village project’s lighting again Wednesday and suggested the replacement of six lights on the project site.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

A neighbor’s appeal of preliminary design review for the Golden Inn & Village has been denied, but the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission still called for replacement of six lights on the southern side of the building to solve the latest complaint.

Santa Ynez resident Mark Brooks filed an appeal of the Central Board of Architectural Review’s preliminary design review for the low-income senior citizen residence at the corner of Highway 246 and Refugio Road. 

At Wednesday’s meeting, planning commissioners were assessing design elements, a narrow aspect of the project, which has already approval from the Board of Supervisors. 

Brooks challenged whether the lighting met several standards and guidelines.

With his property on Lucky Lane just south of the Golden Inn & Village, Brooks said the lighting reflects off the building and onto his property.

Brooks previously challenged several aspects of the project, including other lights and drainage, and said he has been harmed for by changes made after the project’s original approval.

“My concern is what the county did. They dropped the ball and they harmed our community. That’s my real concern about this,” he said, vowing to monitor other major projects to ensure they comply with the conditions of approval.

Commission Chairman John Parke asked what fixes Brooks wanted addressed.

“I really don’t know what can be done,” Brooks said. Past attempts to switch the head of the lights failed to help, he said.

He suggested lowering the lights to reduce the impacts on neighboring properties, but added it would be an expensive switch, especially for a nonprofit organization.

“It just strikes me as odd that someone can’t find a practical solution to deal with this issue by a neighbor about light being reflected onto his property,” said Parke, who represents the Third District on the Planning Commission.

“I think any neighbor that lived there would have that concern and I would see why any neighbor that lived there would be frustrated with the length of this project and we’re still talking about all of this stuff,” he added, saying he contemplated delaying action so both sides could solve the problem themselves. 

Second District Commissioner Cecilia Brown said she remains supportive of the housing project, but spoke against the lighting.

“What has occurred here is a very urban-style project in a rural area and the lighting is more of what occurs in the urban area than what should have occurred here,” she said.

The measured offput of the lights is pretty bright for the area, she added. She also expressed disappointment the lighting heads couldn’t be retrofitted to fix the concerns of light reflecting off the building. 

The project’s electrical engineer, Heather Gray, said the lighting met California Green Building Standards Code and other regulations specific to rural areas.

“It’s an unfair claim to make that we don’t comply with what’s required in a rural area,” Gray said.

At one point, discussion centered on whether the replacement could involve something as simple as swapping light bulbs. 

“We have the lighting engineer here, let’s just ask the question. Can we change the damn light bulb?” Fifth District Commissioner Dan Blough said. 

But Gray said the manufacturer suggested a complete replacement of the fixture, likely at a cost adding up to thousands of dollars.

Since the project has another phase, the six fixtures set for replacement still could find a new use, commissioners said. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.