Planners Pan City Hall Height Cap Proposal

This Alternative Ordinance Would Permit Taller Buildings

Efforts by the Santa Barbara City Council to place a height limit ordinance on this November’s ballot to compete with one submitted by a coalition of traditional slow-growthers, neighborhood preservationists, and car rights advocates earned a stinging rebuke at the hands of the city’s Planning Commission last week.

While the commissioners took no vote, six of the seven members spoke out against City Hall’s plans to put an alternative height ordinance before the voters, arguing the citizens’ initiative should be given a straight up-or-down vote. The citizens’ initiative would impose a new height limit of between 40 and 45 feet on new buildings, depending on their location throughout the city.

Affordable housing advocates, sustainability gurus, architects, and developers objected the proposed new limits would undermine their efforts and persuaded the City Council to consider putting a more nuanced alternative on the ballot. Those efforts - which enjoy only lukewarm support from councilmembers - set the height limit higher and allowed exceptions for affordable housing projects, among other things.

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