Even the two Santa Barbara City councilmembers most critical of Cottage Hospital’s proposal to build 115 new homes - 70 percent of which will be sold at below market prices to Cottage employees at the site of its former competitor, St. Francis Hospital - agreed that the changed made to the design since the City Council approved it last November made it better. Neighborhood critics who argued that the changes, which resulted in an expansion of the building envelope and a reduction in the amount of open space, found little traction in their effort to send Cottage back to the drawing boards. They charged that Cottage seriously underrepresented the true size of its actual proposal, understating the size of one garage by 17,000 square feet and vastly underestimating the amount of demolition trucks would have to haul away. As a result, these critics say, the environmental mitigations required were insufficient.
Councilmember Das Williams, who voted against Cottage’s original housing proposal, said he could not find an “intellectually honest reason” to support the appeal. New councilmember Dale Francisco - who had campaigned against the housing project - praised the changes, but voted in favor of the neighbors’ appeal anyway. He did so, he said, because he felt members of Architectural Board of Review were improperly admonished not to consider the project’s size bulk and scale when the changes were reviewed.