But Habra, who has owned the lot at 3425 Sea Ledge Lane for the past four years, wants a nice little add-on to his bluff side property: a 450-square-foot swimming pool.
“This pool is a nice feature in any luxury home, but this pool is also a net benefit (to the hillside properties),” said Habra, a tech entrepreneur.
So far, just about everyone has taken the plunge with Habra on his hillside, poolside idea; except one person: the homeowner down the hill from him.
Chris Krach-Bastian, owner of the Sea Ledge Lane property below Habra’s, says a swimming pool doesn’t belong on the edge of the hillside.
She said it poses a danger to her home and anyone underneath it.
“It makes me very nervous to have it above me,” Krach-Bastian said. “We don’t know what Mother Nature might deal us here in Santa Barbara. We might have an earthquake.”
Krach-Bastian has lived at the home for the past 12 years, and her late husband lived there for more than four decades. The home is her inheritance, and her children’s, she said.
It’s worth fighting for, she said, which is why she is taking her protest of the entrepreneur’s home to the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday.
The city’s Planning Commission approved the swimming pool and Krach-Bastian appealed that decision.
The Planning Commission’s vote was 5-1, with commissioner Deborah Schwartz in opposition, citing previous hillside failures for her concerns.
If Krach-Bastian loses at the City Council meeting, she said she will appeal the matter to the California Coastal Commission.
“I am not wild about having a pool above me,” she said.
A geologist determined that adding the swimming pool would not threaten or weaken the hillside or the home below it, according to city documents.
It would, in fact, strengthen the hillside, according to the city and the geologist.
The geological report states that the weight of the water in the pool would be roughly half the weight of the soil that crews would remove to install the pool. The swimming pool would not jeopardize an existing retaining wall “or add excessive weight to the top of the bluff,” according to a city staff report.
The geologist also recommended that the new pool be constructed with its own self-supporting caisson foundation and not be tied to the existing retaining wall or residence. The pool would be built on five drilled piles, four for the pool and one for the spa, and extend below the depth of the existing caisson-supported retaining wall.
Krach-Bastian has supplied photos of a slope failure onto her property in 1998. With the potential of El Niño coming, she said, anything can happen.
“I don’t think anyone can know what would happen,” she said. “I treasure this home.”
She said if Habra’s pool drops on her house, there would be no way that she would be allowed to build in that spot ever again.
“I’d be stuck with a worthless piece of beachfront property,” she said.
Habra and his team, however, said science isn’t on the appellant’s side.
Habra said he wishes that the matter had not escalated to this point, but that he understands this is “an emotional concern.”
“I respect my neighbor’s concerns,” he said. “I just wish there was a more thorough analysis. This pool is a real benefit.”
The Santa Barbara City Council meeting starts at 2 p.m. at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.