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Caruso Affiliated meets with Montecito Board of Architectural Review in December 2007.

J'Amy Brown

Caruso Affiliated meets with Montecito Board of Architectural Review in December 2007.


Miramar’s Extra Architectural Review Nixed

Rick Caruso’s Staffers Unable to Attend Monday Meeting; Future Decisions Will Be Made Without More MBAR Input


The Miramar Hotel project has been taken off Monday’s Montecito Board of Architectural Review agenda after owner Rick Caruso informed county staff that certain members of his staff would be unable to attend on such short notice.

The drop means that the Montecito Planning Commission will be making its decision on the project without hearing again from the MBAR, despite requests from commissioners. The MPC, in the midst of its marathon July 15 meeting, requested that the project go back to MBAR for another review of the project’s size, bulk, and scale. Commissioners expressed concerns at their meeting about the height of some buildings, as well as the way square footage was calculated on the property.

The MPC, at the behest of Commissioner Claire Gottsdanker, asked county staff to put the Miramar on the MBAR agenda. It was on, until Wednesday, July 23. Instead, the commissioners will receive compact discs of the audiotape from the December 13, 2007 MBAR meeting.

Rick Caruso (left) and Matt Middlebrook
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Rick Caruso (left) and Matt Middlebrook

A full-page advertisement in today’s print edition of The Independent is encouraging people to write to project planner Erin Briggs with comments, and to attend the August 6th Montecito Planning Commission meeting “to demand the best and most appropriate project be approved.”

Gottsdanker’s primary concern was that the minutes from the December 13 meeting didn’t accurately reflect the extent of what had actually occurred, and she wanted to make sure her board was making informed decisions. Both Gottsdanker and Commissioner Michael Phillips, who had done the bulk of the questioning of county staff at the July 15 meeting, indicated they are content with the resolution of the MBAR matter.

Dave Ward, deputy director of the county Planning and Development department who has been an integral part overseeing the planning process for the hotel, said Caruso’s team informed him there wasn’t enough time for the architect and project manager to plan for the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Planning Association is ratcheting up its effort to encourage opposition to Caruso’s project as it stands now. A full-page advertisement in today’s print edition of The Independent is encouraging people to write to project planner Erin Briggs with comments, and to attend the upcoming Montecito Planning Commission meeting “to demand the best and most appropriate project be approved.” The ad calls the Caruso’s plan giant, and demanding “dozens of exceptions to the rules for: Height, Scale, Bulk, Design, and Set-Back regulations, and the elimination of a public street?”

Caruso’s next public hearing will be August 6 in front of the MPC, where it appears the commission could okay the project, but with a number of conditions.

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