With less than two months to the final deadline, there’s still no sign of construction on lower State Street, where developer Bill Levy has proposed building 65 Ritz-Carlton time-share condos. Santa Barbara Community Development Director Paul Casey said he stopped calling Levy for updates some time ago, but representatives from Melchiori Construction visited his office two weeks ago and said construction would commence shortly; nothing has happened since. Calls to Melchiori went unanswered. Levy has until December 12 to begin construction. No further extensions can be legally given. “I don’t think there’s anyone on the council who feels like giving Bill another chance. He’s hit the end of the road,” said City Councilmember Roger Horton.
The Goleta Visioning Committee rejected a minority report from two of its members who took exception to the housing policies favored by the other 10 members of the group. Eva Inbar and Mike S. Brown were instead offered the option of not signing the Vision Document. At a Friday meeting, which the two dissenting members did not attend, the rest of the committee drastically revised the minority report and sent it to the dissenters along with the message, “Take it or leave it.” As originally written, the report objected that the Vision Document fails to include compact mixed-use housing developments for middle- and lower-income households.
Cottage Hospital’s plans to build a major affordable housing development at the St. Francis Hospital site were appealed to the City Council by neighborhood activists. The appeal – filed by the Bungalow Haven Neighborhood Association, the Upper East Association, and the Lower Riviera Neighbors Association – contends that the environmental analysis failed to adequately address the proposed project’s effects on traffic, health risks, and historical resources. Further, it contends the Planning Commission did not give proper consideration to a smaller 88-unit project identified as the “environmentally superior alternative.” The appeal will be heard by the council on Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
A $55 million plan to build a new airport terminal ran into turbulence Tuesday as some Santa Barbara City Councilmembers objected to the project on the grounds that it wasn’t nearly green enough. Councilmembers Das Williams and Brian Barnwell argued the building needed to be oriented to maximize solar exposure, and solar panels needed to be installed, regardless of the red-tile roofs. Councilmember Helene Schneider worried the new plans were not designed to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs, who are currently forklifted onto planes.
The county supervisors directed their staff to draft green architectural guidelines for all new county buildings, most of which are expected to be built in North County. The General Services Department showed how energy costs at two new buildings were more than halved by the use of natural sunlight, geothermal heating, and other energy-saving technology. But at a third building, called Casa Nueva, energy use exceeded the county average. General Services staff were directed to study this problem, and suspect that county employees are taping over the movement-sensor lighting – which turns off if room occupants fail to move about – and are bypassing the automatic temperature controls.
The 17 remaining residents of the Cedarwood Apartments and a few who already moved have a Superior Court date in late October to fight their evictions from the Isla Vista complex that Conquest Student Housing wants to refurbish as luxury student housing. UCSB student activists and distraught tenants again converged on the county’s Board of Supervisors, urging it to halt the evictions and create local ordinances to staunch the displacement of working families from the South County. Student legislators claim to have registered 4,000 students to vote based on the evictions. County Counsel Shane Stark welcomed legal aid in developing a theory that would allow the county to intervene.