The City of Santa Barbara is preparing to embark on a $12.1 million renovation of the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion and Bath House. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The City of Santa Barbara is about to embark on a $1.5 million fundraising campaign to help pay $12.1 million for a new, state-of-the-art Cabrillo Arts Pavilion and Bath House.

Officials want to make improvements and upgrades to the 90-year-old building and return it to the “crown jewel” status it once enjoyed. 

“It’s essentially the same, but a whole lot better,” said Jill Zachary, assistant parks and recreation director, of the new building.

A year ago, the city estimated the cost of the overall project at $11 million. Zachary told Noozhawk that the exact cost is still unknown and as renovations plans develop, the city will refine the cost estimates. 

“There are a lot of factors involved including the refinement of the project design, cost of construction, and other considerations,” Zachary said. “We will be revising the estimate again once the final plans and construction drawings are complete.”

The city already has $9.1 million in previous redevelopment funds set aside for the job, and plans to spend $1.5 million out of its general fund over the next two fiscal years, if approved by the council. To reach the planned $12.1 million, the city plans to seek out state and local grants to fund the project. The building also needs to be brought up to modern Americans with Disabilities Act standards. 

The City Council earlier this week approved a $52,000 contract to a consultant to verify the city’s plan to make the building Silver LEED certified, an environmental designation.

The city is also revamping the building with sea level rise in mind.

“It is becoming an increasing concern from coastal communities in general and Santa Barbara specifically,” Zachary said. “We need to address potential vulnerability of the site today, in 2030, 2065 and 2100 from sea level rise and the frequency of coastal storm events and come up with a proposed approach for how we intend to adapt the site over time.”

The city will seek a coastal development permit for the project and must prepare the sea level assessment report to comply with the city’s Local Coastal Program and Climate Action Plan for the project. City officials also plan to share the findings of the report with the California Coastal Commission. 

Zachary said the city plans to waterproof the perimeter of the building and launch a beach profile monitoring study later this summer. It is likely, she said, that by 2065, crews will need to create a winter sand berm to protect the building. 

Renovation plans call for major changes inside and outside. The city plans to install an elevator, build a new, modern kitchen and renovate the main event room and restrooms. The outdoors showers will be renovated, along with the building’s facade and beachfront promenade.

Inside, the city plans to make upgrades to the city’s electrical, plumbing, communications and structural systems. 

Later this year, the city plans to start a restaurant tenant concession process to determine which businesses will operate at the facility. 

The proposal is expected to go before the Planning Commission in August for the Coastal Development Permit. 

The project will go before the City Council in October. If approved, the city will complete final design over the subsequent six months, embark on a business plan for restaurants and concessions, and then proceed with construction late depending on the success of the fundraising efforts. 

The city also planning to make major changes to the Cabrillo Ball Field across the street. The city has set about $713,000 for improvements to the site. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at