An artist's rendering of the future Funk Zone Artist Village

Courtesy Dan Weber Architecture /

An artist's rendering of the future Funk Zone Artist Village

Tenants Chosen for Funk Zone Artist Village

Developer Neil Dipaola Also Paving Way for Four-Story Mega Project

Thursday, July 17, 2014
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Plans by developer Neil Dipaola to place a makeshift village of 24 storage containers to be used by writers and artists, located on a 1.7-acre parcel in the city’s so-called Funk Zone off Gray Avenue, got off to an admittedly rocky start with City Hall, but relations have improved. City planner Bettie Weiss said she finds the concept “exciting and creative” but acknowledged she was upset to find out what Dipaola was planning via the blogosphere. Other city officials heard from other sources ​— ​some from elected officials lobbying on his behalf ​— ​but none from the developer himself. Given that Dipaolo has been working behind the scenes to smooth the way for a four-story mega project on the same site, this lack of communication proved more than a little nettlesome. Since then, Weiss said, she, Dipaola, and Mayor Helene Schneider have met several times to discuss the permit requirements.

In recent days, the developers announced the names of the winners of a creative contest to secure occupancy of the storage containers in the proposed village. Two are writers for The Santa Barbara Independent, Ethan Stewart and Charles Donelan. Stewart said his plan is to document unfolding changes in the Funk Zone ​— ​both good and bad ​— ​while occupying one of the last remnants of ungentrified space. Donelan would open his space as a cultural resource to the community of artists, offering critiques and helpful hints on getting news coverage.

Long term, Dipaolo has much bigger fish to fry. He’s proposing the construction of a four-story structure with 64 apartment units, a hotel, and a restaurant, not to mention square footage dedicated to outdoor and ocean uses and commercial-industrial arts applications. “It’s very interesting and creative,” said Weiss, “but it’s also very aggressive.” Making his proposal especially challenging, the land is zoned for only three-story development. In addition, Dipaola is offering to build only one-half the parking required. And of the 64 units, he’s only proposing to make 10 of the apartments affordable. “That’s not a lot,” said Weiss.

Even so, his plan was designed in accordance with the state’s bonus density program that gives added rights to developments offering smaller and affordable units. That extra density gives him the additional square footage to justify the fourth story. The proposal is still in the conceptual stage, getting the once-over last week by the city’s Planning Commission. While many from the arts community showed up to voice their support, commissioners grappled with the state density rules and how they worked for this project.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I just wonder why the fire Marshall always seems to skip a certain hidden space on Helena. Hint. ,, look for a bunch of junk and explore upstairs toward the back!!! It's a hidden room,,, full of,,, let's see if those top notch reporters at the Independent can find out!!! P.S,,, don't forget your camera!!!

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
July 17, 2014 at 10:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

F'in hypocrates. We were kicked off of, and out of this property due to working out of containers, used that way for almost 50 years. Zoning comes along and say that it can only be used as a parking lot, because that what is was in the old day of The Weber Bread Factory.
I wonder where Ray is, of Ray's Welding?
Sad Ms Weiss, and very sad Mayor Schneider

easternpacific (anonymous profile)
July 17, 2014 at 10:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

easternpacific (anonymous profile)
July 17, 2014 at 10:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is the end of the funk zone as we know it. It's just going to be another State Street...

CommonSense (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2014 at 9:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hate to break it to you, @CommonSense, but the Funk Zone as many SB residents know it has already gone the way of the dodo... not too much funk left, replaced almost entirely by purveyors of alcoholic beverages (so yeah, another State Street...)

CitizenWatchdog (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2014 at 12:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Stewart said his plan is to document unfolding changes in the Funk Zone ​— ​both good and bad ​— ​while occupying one of the last remnants of ungentrified space. " haha --- there is no remnant of ungentrified space there. It's been totally ruined, well, not totally, the 4-story apartment building and the hotel plus a restaurant finishes it. Should go nicely with the Tourist Entrada and the weekend Cabrillo Boulevard and State Street.

Wonder what's the point of the zoning and other city requirements? Answer: Not much, except to give the planning department a raison d'etre, to spend their time advising their clients, the developers, how to build what they want!

Why not just give up and make this place Santa Monica West, as the "village" or whatever at Victoria emulates San Francisco.

at_large (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2014 at 5:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How does more than doubling the number of artists working out of funky spaces in the Funk Zone mean the ruin of the Funk Zone?

Urban life is constant change, and it's always been one aspect of any arts community to constantly adapt. Try stopping by during one of the Second Saturday art walks, especially after the new artists come in, and support what's there instead of complaining about some vision of what isn't.

pk (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2014 at 5:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's going to be underwater anyways.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2014 at 6:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Agreed easternpacific…i was there the last couple of years sharing that space with all of you fantastic creative old-timers and have been upset at the fact that it still remains empty….kicked out for no reason…and now they propose to put in exactly what it was…storage containers for the creative…oh but it's intended for the artsy transplant out-of-towners, the hipster indigo children and a couple Indy writers who get the pot of funky space gold when the true locals were left in the dust…typical SB. It's better off as Syuxtun (Chumach village name that these transplants likely wouldn't know about)…anyways. I don't want to come check out the second Saturday art crawl if i have to push my way thru hoards of Figuroa Mtn brewsters…the funk has lost it's appeal…it was much more interesting with funky artists living illegally with their ally way gatherings, warehouse garage bands, collectors of fine junk, makers of masterpieces from their fine junk, real locals with endless stories of the good ol' times.and of course ol' Ray….The funk zone was part of my good ol' times and my only chance for a moment in history to have a tiny nook to hide-away in downtown SB…

cinderella (anonymous profile)
July 19, 2014 at 5:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Since the article only mentions two people, it would be interesting to know where cinderella got the info that all the others are out-of-towners or whatever "hipster indigo children" is supposed to mean.

Anyone who can't muster the energy to look at work by dedicated and hard-working Santa Barbara artists can console themselves with stories of the good old times when masterpieces were being created illegally in alleyways by a vanished race of "real" locals who knew how to keep people like cinderella amused with their antics.

pk (anonymous profile)
July 20, 2014 at 7:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

ps. So far I've heard of 6 or 7 serious, productive local artists accepted for the Village, and I'm sure there are another dozen I haven't yet heard about. They deserve respect for who they are and what they do, not disdain from people who clearly have no clue about the local arts community and what it's doing to try to sustain itself here in the real world, imperfect as it is, as opposed to someone's fantasy of the good old days.

pk (anonymous profile)
July 20, 2014 at 7:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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