City Flip-Flops on Veronica Meadows Development

The Santa Barbara City Council executed a drastic about-face Tuesday night, voting in concept to allow developer Mark Lee to build up to 26 units on vacant land running along Las Positas Road across from Elings Park, rather than the 15 units the councilmembers had insisted upon this March. This dramatic change of heart was inspired by the turnout of many Alan Road residents — about 27 — who opposed Lee’s proposed entrance right up their street. Lee had initially won the hearts and minds of Alan Road residents by promising to leave them alone and build a new entrance bridge across Las Positas Creek into his Veronica Meadows development. But in March, the council voted to reject the bridge entrance because environmentalists argued the bridge footings would impede the travel of critters along the creek. But when Lee returned to the council with what they had said they wanted — a smaller project going through Alan Road — five councilmembers concluded that they didn’t really like it that much. In fact, they said they liked Lee’s previous proposal — with its more ambitious creek restoration plans and traffic improvements — much better. Only Councilmembers Das Williams and Helene Schneider held out, arguing that both of Lee’s proposals were just too big. Lee, who has expressed much pain and anguish during his many years in the city’s review process, actually wound up with a few more units than the 23 he proposed earlier this year. That’s because Mayor Marty Blum and Councilmember Grant House said they wanted to see a few affordable units. At one point, Lee had offered to include two middle-income duplexes.

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