<b>TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?</b>  The success of the recently refurbished El Encanto has some neighbors grumbling about loss of on-street parking at the hands of hotel employees.

Paul Wellman

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? The success of the recently refurbished El Encanto has some neighbors grumbling about loss of on-street parking at the hands of hotel employees.

El Encanto Sparks Parking Wars

Neighbors Circulate Petition, City Helping Resolve Issue

Thursday, March 27, 2014
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It was a year ago last week that the dramatically remodeled El Encanto reopened its doors for business, and the high-end destination hotel and restaurant has had an immediate impact on city coffers. City bed taxes have jumped 14 percent in the last eight months, and city administrators estimate that half of that is due to guests and customers at what’s recently been renamed “Belmond El Encanto.” For some of the hotel’s immediate neighbors, however, the blessings have been mixed. Nicole Fuller, who has lived kitty-corner to the hotel for the past eight years, is leading a signature-gathering effort to ensure that hotel employees don’t park on surrounding streets. The number of spaces for residents is already extremely limited, she said, pointing out that the hotel’s conditions of approval require El Encanto to provide employee parking.

Fuller, who said she collected 25 signatures in two hours, estimated as many as 30 parking spaces have been taken over by hotel workers. El Encanto’s Laura McIver took exception to this claim, explaining that hotel security staff ​— ​when patrolling nearby streets for employee cars ​— ​typically find between zero and three. She acknowledged there were problems initially but that the hotel has responded and the number of complaints has fallen off dramatically. McIver noted the hotel has 98 parking spaces on a site with 92 rooms, a restaurant, a spa, and a ballroom. She added that 30 spaces are set aside for managers and carpoolers. The hotel also rents out 40 parking spaces for its employees from a church on Constance Avenue and operates a nonstop shuttle to and from beginning at 5:40 a.m. Typically, she said, there are 5-10 cars in the lot, with a maximum of 20. Acting Community Development Director Bettie Weiss said “good work has been done” by the hotel to solve the problem but that more is required. “It is our intention to continue to work with the hotel to resolve this issue, and we do believe it needs attention,” she said.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Sounds like El Encanto is trying to be a good citizen. Do the petitioners have any evidence, e.g. license numbers of employee cars parked on "their" streets.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 9:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe if all the neighbors un-converted their garages from storage or illegal units there wouldn't be such a street-parking problem.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 10:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just take a cup of coffee and sit on the bench in upper Orpet Park during the hours El Encanto employees start for work. You will see a steady stream of people in work attire heading for El Encanto. In fact if you look at the grass you will see a worn path that was never there before this new El Encanto. All of these people park their cars on APS. Then there is another group that parks on Mission Ridge. Others park though out the neighborhood. El Encanto promised that their employees would NOT park in the surrounding areas, it was part of what got them the approval to remodel. That is the important issue here !!!

mars (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 2:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with both of you. Streets should be for driving, not parking.

But what about El Encanto's statement about patrolling? BS?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 3:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't get the math here. If you have 92 rooms and only 98 parking spaces and you fill up the rooms with people who drove to Santa Barbara, that would leave only 6 parking spaces left for employees, and that does not even count the restaurant patrons who are not registered at the hotel as guests. This looks like it was a parking plan designed to fail. I would bet that there was an assumption that a significant number of the employees would arrive to work via public transit and that those assumptions turned out to be wrong. Now the neighbors are paying the price and there is nothing they can do because those are public streets. One thing that the neighbors could try is parking their own vehicles on the street at night, before they go to bed. That way, in the morning, there would be no space left on the street for the El Encanto employees. After a few weeks of that, the employees will find alternative parking and the neighbors can go back to their normal parking habits. I know that sounds petty and territorial, but I would bet it would be more effective than anything that the City is going to do.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 4:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This story highlights the need to expand MTD bus services, not cut them back.
I believe there was a trolley at one time in that area..?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 11:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Since it is likely that many of the employees are commuting from Ventura, Lompoc, and Santa Maria, expanding MTD service would not really help to alleviate this problem. El Encanto needs (or needed) to provide a parking space for every employee per each shift. Obviously the City did not require that amount of parking and El Encanto did not provide it. Therefore, the mess.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 8:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I drive past Orpet park every evening and have always wondered why there are so many cars parked on APS between Pedregosa & Moreno both night a and day. Now I know.

There's an MTD stop nearby on Line 22 (the one that was "remodeled" a while back). But it doesn't run as often as others in town and doesn't look like it would accommodate hotel employee shifts.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 8:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The parking near Orpet is ridiculous, 100% utilization with dangerous driving at commute times. I'm more irritated in the employees that regularly park in the private Riviera Business Park lots across the street. If you show up at 8AM, you will see several regulars parking and trekking across the street, then at 5, the lot is full of people being picked up, entering the exit and clogging the lanes. Maybe I should start parking my beater car in their valet line and see how they like their private property used...

el_smurfo (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 10:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Welcome to public streets. I live near the Bowl and have been told many times that public streets are open to the public EXPECT where residents have permitted parking (like by West Beach).
Cottage Hospital promised that their employees who live at their St. Francis condo development would never park on neighboring streets. Guess what! They park on the public streets too.
The City of SB is famous for requiring less than the real number of needed parking spaces for large developments. Show me the money.

jenninsb (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 6:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sadly, this is not about money. If it where, it would be easy to fix. Rather, this is about an ideology that believes that if you restrict parking people will use public transit because it would be theoretically more convenient. This theory (and "true-believer" ideology) has been proven wrong again and again and again. Yet its proponents refuse to recant their false beliefs and insist on imposing the negative effects of too many cars and not enough parking spaces on the public. Rob Daton (sp?), the traffic guy at the City, needs to have a come-to-Jesus conversion and realize that restricting parking does not (never has and never will) get people to abandon their cars. It has been demonstrated that $10/gallon gasoline will do this, but that is not happening. Just build the parking lots.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 6:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, if parking spots at the hotel are at such a premium, take one guess who is going to be "encouraged" to take public transportation. I don't think it will be upper management!

sharpen123 (anonymous profile)
March 29, 2014 at 4:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Big budget opportunity: dramatically reduce the traffic department by weeding out all those who have no education in traffic management, civil engineering, queuing theory. That should eliminate the true believers in favor of more fact-based regulation. Could easily save a $million here and use it to - wait for it - FIX THE STREETS!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
March 30, 2014 at 9:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What is the "Traffic Department"?

The city offers a Residential Permit Program exactly for situations like this.
Will the neighbors keep complaining or use the tools already available to them?

And this hotel also could pay a living wage to attract local employees instead of desperate Ventura County residents.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
March 30, 2014 at 1:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The charm of El Encanto is not enough, their menu and the portion size of the meals is laughable. I don't know a Santa Barbara local that will dine there. I have a feeling that even valet parking won't be necessary in the not too distant future unless the hotel gets it together.

VioletFlame (anonymous profile)
March 31, 2014 at 5:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Such first world problems.. "Headline the rich don't like the housekeepers parking in front of their mansions" Last time I drove around the El Encanto, i noticed multi-million dollar houses with city/ocean views with driveways and garages... so it baffles the hell are they saying they are losing parking in their neighborhood? Yes, this is an issue for the conditions of approval, but i guess if I had some blue collar riff raff parking in front of my estate, i would feel slighted too!

skaterspoint (anonymous profile)
April 1, 2014 at 6:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

$12 dollars for a parking permit- that's a pretty good rate to park your RV for a day or two. Definitely cheaper than getting an actual room.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 1, 2014 at 6:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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