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Site clearing for the new Fess Parker hotel began in 2007.

Sue De Lapa

Site clearing for the new Fess Parker hotel began in 2007.


New Beach Hotel Proposal

Would Replace Boarded-Up Site


Thursday, April 4, 2013
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Coming Back to Life: The Fess Parker family has come to the city to propose a high-end Cabrillo Boulevard hotel, scaled down to about 50 rooms instead of the 150-room project approved years ago, officials say.

Ground was broken at Cabrillo Street and Calle César Chávez in late 2007 with much fanfare, but the site remains boarded up, reportedly due to financing problems. The original $90-million hotel, near his existing Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, was scheduled to open in 2009, and Parker saw it as a five-star hotel, though some felt that the 150-room project was out of scale with the beach area.

Barney Brantingham

Parker, who died in 2010, struggled to win approval of the 3.4-acre hotel, donating five acres along Cabrillo that is now part of Chase Palm Park and contributing more than $62,000 a year for park maintenance, a figure due to increase when the hotel is built. Parker was also required to build a 100-room hostel, which was built but has not yet opened.

But now the Parker family is very much engaged in bringing the hotel project back to life and, in a quest for a quality operator, is said to be talking to the highly respected Passport Resorts group, operator of the prestigious Post Ranch Inn, on the cliffs of Big Sur, according to Paul Casey, community development director for the City of Santa Barbara.

No formal application has been submitted yet by the family, but the city is very much in favor of working with the family on the project, which would have to be submitted to the Planning Commission and City Council, Casey said.

The rebuilt El Encanto Hotel on the Riviera opened last week to rave reviews, but, a dozen years after approval, La Entrada resort at the foot of State Street has yet to be built, and the long-razed Miramar, on the beach in Montecito, still hasn’t gotten off the ground. But optimists see Santa Barbara becoming a major international resort area after all the projects are open and coupled with the existing Bacara resort west of town, which now has new owners.

Good Idea? Some Santa Barbara controversies flare up overnight. Others take a dozen years to spring to life and hit the City Council. Although narrowing of lower State Street at the beach was approved in 2000, two councilmembers want it brought back for a full probing.

Randy Rowse and Dale Francisco say the long-dormant, yet-to-be-built La Entrada project, between the railroad tracks and Cabrillo Boulevard “has changed enormously.” Narrowing State from four lanes to two “may result in gridlock,” they say in a request to place the issue on the council agenda.

What was once a fractional ownership project is now proposed by developer Michael Rosenfeld as a 123-room luxury hotel. And the Funk Zone east of lower State Street, long a low-intensity conglomeration of craft shops, beach-use businesses, and wineries, is “in the midst of a commercial and retail explosion with no end in sight,” the councilmembers said.

With all this development, unforeseen a dozen years ago when Bill Levy’s project was approved by an earlier council, Rowse and Francisco warn that there’s community concern about a serious bottleneck at a key city intersection. Levy is out of the picture.

They also point out that the wide lower State Street at present “creates an open vista that allows for pedestrian, motorist, and cyclist views of the mountain skyline,” while the new multi-story buildings to be built, combined with narrowing the street, will likely result in a “canyon” effect.

The La Entrada project now includes widening of the sidewalks, and that’s underway. Since no major work has been done so far to narrow the street, perhaps that should be delayed to see if narrowing is necessary as the La Entrada project progresses, Rowse told The Santa Barbara Independent.

No date has been announced for the hearing. Rowse and Francisco said “all interested parties” should be on hand “to discuss whether this idea still makes sense and, if not, what are the possible alternatives.”

Jerry’s Out: It came like an Easter miracle: Word that Jerry Roberts, former executive editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press and San Francisco Chronicle and columnist for The Santa Barbara Independent, has emerged from a hospital in San Francisco after six months of treatment for lymphoma. There’ll be a party up there Sunday and one here later. Now I can uncross my fingers.

Missing Jimmy: Sometimes, crossed fingers don’t work. There’s great sadness at Vices & Spices coffee shop. Jimmy McLeod, a gentleman, fine judge of wine and Scotch whisky, computer whiz, reader of four newspapers a day, good friend to all, disliked by none, soccer enthusiast, man of warm humor and learning, and loving husband of Elinor, died peacefully in his sleep on Good Friday. As John Zant put it, “If heaven exists, Jimmy is charging through the gates.” A celebration of his life will be announced later.

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Now I'm a bit embarrassed. The two councilmen, for whom I did not vote , emerge as the most common sensical of the bunch. This narrowing seemed a bad idea from the start.
An easy study would be to cone it off and observe traffic patterns on a busy summer weekend.

geeber (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 4:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Narrowing State Street was a bad idea in 2000, fought unsuccessfully by numerous groups; it's a terrible idea now. Drive there on _any_ afternoon and think what it will be like when it's summer!

The alternative"? Restore State Street!

at_large (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 10:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

PS: Gregg Hart was on the Council then, winning along with Blum and Fairley in the 1999 election.

What was his position on the narrowing of State Street --- and what is it now when he is running again?

at_large (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Geeber, the current council had no hand in approving the narrowing. Gentrifying that area of State St. is a bad idea altogether.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 11:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken , I know the chronology of our council and its members. I'm simply noting that the two councilmen , whose personal politics I most disagree with, are the ones questioning the boneheaded planning decisions that allowed closing lanes.

geeber (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 6:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It is strange. It def puts the "Free Market" advocacies of those two in contradiction.
In the end it only improves Hotchkiss' chances in a mayoral race over those two, are you listening Frank?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 7:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't see how it puts "Free Market advocacies" in contradiction to be opposed to the city's narrowing a major street. Francisco, at least, has consistently supported public views. Who says Hotchkiss is running for mayor and not for a renewal of his present council seat? He'd be very foolish to do that.

at_large (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 9:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Francisco does NOT consistently "support public views".
Example one: the medicinal marijuana dispensaries. Francisco is looking for an easy issue because moist people aren't for congestion or even the gentrification of that part of town which he does support. Hotchkiss is at least seen as likeable in a fuddy duddy sort of way. Francisco consistently comes across as a scold who wants to push his own theological beliefs onto the populace to conquer his own demons.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 10:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm surprised you'd think Hotchkiss couldn't beat Francisco in a race. Do you think Hotchkiss is a weak candidate? He's got a lot less baggage than Francisco. The question remains is if he has the cajones to take advantage of it.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 5, 2013 at 11:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As far as is known at this point, the only serious candidate for mayor is Schneider herself to retain her seat. Hotchkiss would be very ill-advised to run for mayor at this (any?) time.

And as for public views, Francisco was strongly in favor of Measure B, the height limitation proposal that had one of its main arguments that keeping building heights lower would retain mountain and ocean views. He was active and consistent. (What do medical marijuana dispensaries have to do with public views?) His "theological views" - what are they?!? He's been strong against further densification of the city during the long process of the General Plan Update, but is that "theological"?

As for gentrification of the funk zone, unfortunately, they all seem to support it.... or have not come up with anything other than handwringing, at most, about how to save the character of the last relatively undeveloped, unplanned area of the city.

at_large (anonymous profile)
April 6, 2013 at 8:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Freeway should have gone "under" and State Street "over" (at grade) with shops along it... (think ponte vecchio...not literally of course but use-wise)

:-(

No intervention whether widening State, or narrowing will ever remarry the two State Streets divorced by the freeway.

lovechop (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 8:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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