The controversial Paradiso del Mare project moved forward Tuesday, after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny an appeal filed by environmental groups following the County Planning Commission’s go-ahead in November. Located just west of the Bacara and next door to Naples, the project — barring another appeal — will see the construction of two homes on the property, a 7,000-square-foot inland house and a 6,000-square-foot house nearer the ocean, along with accompanying guest houses and garages.
The appeal — filed by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, marine mammal expert Peter Howorth, and the Santa Barbara chapters of the Surfrider Foundation and the Audubon Society — was originally accompanied by an appeal from the Santa Barbara Trails Council. But last week, the Trails Council rescinded its appeal after striking a deal with the developer — Brooks Street — will donate $500,000 to help build a parking lot, a mile-long trail along the bluff, and a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the site. The environmental groups’ issues with the project included, among other things, concerns over how the homes’ presence would affect Chumash archaeological resources, public access to the beach below, and — for what occupied most of Tuesday’s discussion — the seal and the protected white-tailed kites populations in the area.
County staff, however, said that the multiple mitigations agreed to by Brooks Street, including more than 100 acres of open space, were reasonable. The houses will be built on the western side of the property, away from the Chumash site, and water will be provided to the homes through a pipeline originating from the eastern side. Although a popular trail to the beach on the western side will no longer be available to the public, people will be able to get to the sand from a to-be-determined spot on the eastern side. While that access point will prove problematic for getting to a popular surf spot during a chunk of the year — because of its proximity to the seals’ pupping and breeding area — Brooks Street will put $20,000 toward a volunteer-based watch group. And the kites, staff said, are not married to any particular nesting site.