The City of Santa Barbara wants to put solar panels atop the Granada Garage, but the Historic Landmarks Commission doesn’t want them to be seen — at least from Anapamu Street.
The proposal is for a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that also would function as a parking canopy on the upper level of the Granada Garage.
Environmentally, it’s a slam dunk. There’s just one problem. The Granada Garage is in the El Pueblo Viejo District, which has strict guidelines for how structures look.
Members of the Historic Landmarks Commission at Wednesday’s meeting said they could support a solar system on the top of the garage, as long as it couldn’t be seen from Anapamu Street.
The discussion sparked some tense exchanges.
Commissioner Bill Mahan said “we” could support the project if the solar panels were rotated, but he was interrupted by Commissioner Ed Lenvik, who responded, “Mr. Mahan, you are one person. I don’t think you should use the term ‘we.’”
The super structure would have a maximum height of 46 feet and 11 inches, with painted high-strength steel columns and beams, and galvanized light-gauge steel purlins on top to support and attach the solar modules, according to the city staff report. The project also would include the removal of existing rooftop light poles and 13 small olive trees in pots to allow for the new solar photovoltaic canopy.
Mahan had strong views on the visuals.
“It shouldn’t be seen from the street,” he said. “Anapamu is very, very important. That is very, very important coming out of the library. Your angle is very different. It is just not acceptable.”
Commissioner Steve Hausz said the panel is at the mercy of the El Pueblo Viejo guidelines that prohibit the panels from being seen from the street.
“The solution is to drop the panels,” Hausz said, adding that the structure should resemble a trellis. “This is nothing like a trellis to me. It really has no hope of getting there. In no way, shape or form does this resemble a trellis. It is just not an acceptable situation.”
“This is not a supportable design in the EPV district,” Lenvik said.
He said it would be much wiser for the applicant to start with a trellis design.
“You have to start out with a trellis structure,” Lenvik said. “You started with a solar panel and worked yourself back, and that is not going to work.”
In the end, the commission voted to give the project and its architect, Ed DeVicente of DMHA Architecture, a four-week continuance.
It was the second time that the project had gone before the commission. DeVicente said he wanted an approval or a denial, rather than a delay. If it were denied, the project could go before the City Council.
“We don’t believe this is the correct direction to go,” DeVicente said. “We have been delayed and delayed and delayed. We played nice the last four months to even get to this point. We do not want additional delay.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.