David Lack

Martha Sadler

David Lack

Not-So-Jolly Green Giant

Planning Commission Shoots Down Plan for Proposed Sustainable Structure

In a showdown pitting sustainability against neighborhood compatibility, the Santa Barbara Planning Commission voted 4-0 in favor of compatibility when it came to David Lack’s plans to build a 30-foot-tall, ¼ber-green, mixed-use development at 617 Bradbury Street, adjoining Santa Barbara’s historic Brinkerhoff District.

Although the issue before the commissioners was whether to approve a technical modification involving open space, the commissioners were moved by the outpouring of neighbors and activist groups who argued the proposed building would dwarf nearby structures in the Brinkerhoff District. Terms like “blockbuster,” “The Green Giant,” and “Chapalacization” were tossed about by Lack’s critics. “In transition zones, you have to put in a smaller structure more sensitive to the surrounding neighborhood,” said commissioner John Jostes. “That’s in the General Plan.” Neighbors built a model simulating the proposed structure in relation to the adjoining properties. “That just killed it,” Jostes said.

Proposed mixed-use site
View Larger Map

Lack and city staff were stunned by the results, and Lack said he plans to appeal the matter to the City Council, where he expressed confidence that “cooler heads will prevail.” Lack noted that his plans conformed to all existing zoning rules and regulations, and that no setbacks were required. (His plan calls for lot-line-to-lot-line development.) He said he initially intended to build a 40-foot structure but scaled it back in deference to community concerns about tall buildings. Lack admitted city inspectors found 101 code violations with the property when he first bought it, not to mention 18 cars-including one van used as a meth lab-that had been allowed to rent space. Lack said he intended to make the structure a showcase for green construction techniques and that he planned to live in one of the condos.

Street view of proposed mixed-use site
View Larger Map

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Volunteers Canvas Montecito’s ‘Red Zones’

Door-to-door outreach delivers storm-readiness info.

Sometime S.B. Resident Ryan Zinke to Step Down

All roads to lead to Santa Barbara — even Trump’s.

Highway Patrol Bears Gifts to Unity Shoppe

Officers collect and deliver donated children's toys to support service.

Adam Brothers Farm Identified in E. Coli Outbreak

Santa Maria farm recalls romaine and additional produce.

Goleta Swears in New City Leadership

New mayor and new councilmembers step onto the dais.