One of Santa Barbara’s most prominent and controversial developers spoke with Santa Barbara Talks with Josh Molina this week, and as expected, had a lot to say.
Ed St. George, the owner of Beach City and thousands of housing units on the Central Coast, said the Santa Barbara Planning Department needs an overhaul.
“The goal posts just keep getting moved,” St. George said. “It is just constant. It is different with every project.”
St. George said the planning commission is going outside of its lane “all the time.”
“I think there needs to be a top-down reboot for the planning department,” St. George said.
Watch the 30-minute podcast on YouTube below.
St. George is currently building a hotel project on West Montecito Street and has already won approval to build an apartment project on Milpas Street, at the site of the former Capital Hardware store.
He is, however, known for his blunt speech and concerns about multiple visits to discretionary review boards for his various projects.
In this podcast, St. George makes the following statements:
“I really think the planning department really needs to keep the Planning Commission in check.”
“There are no builders left in town, honestly.”
St. George also said the city needs to focus on more affordable housing. Police officers, firefighters, and teachers often have to commute from Ventura County to jobs in Santa Barbara.
“Most of our city planners don’t even live in Santa Barbara, if you can believe that, to me that’s completely absurd,” St. George said. “How do you help plan a city that you don’t even live in?”
St. George also talks about Paseo Nuevo, and the current proposal to topple the mall and build 500 housing units.
“If you really want to get a vibrant downtown, put 1,000 people in there,” St. George said.
Joshua Molina is journalist who currently writes for Noozhawk and teaches journalism at Santa Barbara City College. He formerly covered politics and land use for the San Jose Mercury News. Santa Barbara Talks is an independently owned podcast where Molina looks to bring together voices from all perspectives to discuss and provide solutions to the challenges related to housing, education, transportation and other community issues. Subscribe to his podcast here and consider a contribution here.