Developer and real estate agent Bob Hart is asking the Santa Barbara City Council to approve a mixed-use condo conversion that the Planning Commission unanimously rejected two weeks ago. Hart hopes to convert four apartments he had built above an office he owns in the 3400 block of State Street into condos. City planning staff initially supported him, but the Planning Commission ruled otherwise because Hart was providing only half of the parking spaces required by law and had not complied with the city guidelines that would have made him eligible for special consideration.
The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt an ordinance that would help tenants evicted because of land-use changes. Under the new ordinance – a final version of which will be voted on next week – tenants who are forced to move because their buildings are being redeveloped would be entitled to four times the median market rent for their unit, or $5,000, whichever is higher. Councilmember Iya Falcone argued that if the inside of a building is “gutted” but the façade remains unchanged, the ordinance would not apply – “a major loophole,” she said. But Councilmember Brian Barnwell argued that residential redevelopments in Santa Barbara tend to occur when luxury projects supplant older buildings, which typically requires total redevelopment. There are currently 32 projects pending or approved in Santa Barbara that call for the demolition of one or more units.
All three of the slow-growth incumbent candidates who hammered out the City of Goleta’s first General Plan have been voted out of office, according to the most recent count of absentee and provisional ballots. Roger Aceves will join top vote-getters Michael Bennett and Eric Onnen – both of whom were backed by agricultural landowners seeking to develop their property – in the three open City Council seats.
An auditor’s report detailing 26 years of lax oversight in the county’s affordable home- ownership program is not yet complete, though it has already consumed hundreds of hours of staff time. County staff expressed little confidence that past abuses by the homeowners – such as mortgaging and subleasing at nonaffordable rates – could be rectified at this point because the county’s paperwork is so disorganized. Supervisors discussed outsourcing the program to a nonprofit agency with an established track record, or else abandoning it.
In a showdown between the visionaries and the fix-its over the future of Santa Barbara’s De la Guerra Plaza, the visionaries clearly prevailed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The council rejected a narrow choice of limited infrastructure improvements – favored by many of the business owners operating around the plaza – in favor of a broader and more ambitious redesign of the entire plaza, which most councilmembers agreed had become a civic dead zone rather than a civic center.