A group of homeowners wanting to enlarge their houses won a key battle against venerable neighborhood associations who have sought for several years to keep houses small in the city of Santa Barbara. Succumbing to pressure from the newly formed Citywide Homeowners Association, the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance ad hoc steering committee voted 5-2 Friday to limit house-and-garage floor area only on lots smaller than 7,500 square feet. That describes fewer than half of the city’s residential lots. But until Friday’s vote, the draft ordinance established hard-and-fast maximum house sizes for lots smaller than 15,000 square feet – or 82 percent of lots, according to city planner Heather Baker. Instead, the committee decided that lots larger than 7,500 square feet should be subject merely to recommended square footages and negotiable design guidelines. Committee members Dianne Channing and Joe Guzzardi voted in dissent. After some refinement, the ordinance will return to the committee April 12 for the final time.

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