Miramar Hotel Approval Faces Appeal

Citizens Planning Association Objects to Okay by Montecito Planning Commission

The Citizens Planning Association (CPA) announced Friday it is planning to appeal the Montecito Planning Commission’s (MPC) October 9 approval of Rick Caruso’s Miramar Hotel project.

The commission voted 4-1 to approve the 192-room project, which will have a total floor area of 164,849 square feet, 551 parking spaces, and, in terms of grading, will have 36,300 cubic yards of cut, 46,100 cubic yards of fill, and 10,000 cubic yards of imported soil.

A statement from CPA Friday threw everything but the kitchen sink into their explanation, insisting that improper assessments were made on flood impacts, water use impacts, sewer capacity, construction noise, floor area ratio calculations, historic preservation, Montecito Community Plan compliance, and environmental impact report (EIR) process issues. And that’s not even all of it. “Unfortunately the [supplemental] EIR and Addendum do not come close to satisfying [the] California Environmental Quality Act’s minimum informational and analytical requirements,” said Ross Campbell, an attorney representing CPA, in a statement Friday. “With all due respect to the efforts of the Montecito Planning Commission, a number of significant deficiencies have not been addressed even though we repeatedly brought them to the County’s attention. Given the scope of those outstanding concerns, CPA was left with no choice but to appeal.”

Matt Middlebrook, vice president of government relations for Caruso Affiliated, and the Caruso team see things a bit differently. He said there wasn’t much to say without seeing an actual appeal, but indicated Caruso’s team is “confident everything has been thoroughly reviewed, analyzed, and addressed.”

The MPC spent nearly 40 hours laboring over the plans for the hotel, which has been closed for 10 years. Two previous owners weren’t able to get a project built. But many Montecitans are hoping Caruso is the man with the plan and have condemned opponents who are holding up approval of the project.

The purpose of the appeal is not to obstruct this development, but rather to ensure that if the site is to be developed, the County carefully and properly assesses key environmental and safety concerns before approving the project to be built,” explained CPA executive director Naomi Kovacs in a statement. “While the site is currently blighted, we can’t lose sight of the fact that development needs to adhere to our County’s adopted community plans, does not overextend our resources, and is the process of growing better, not just growing in ways that developers themselves desire.”

The project is expected to be heard by the Board of Supervisors in December, prior to the holidays.

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