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Explosive Properties: Westmont expansion appeal appealed.

“There are so many bombs going off in Montecito it’s starting to
look like Iraq,” said one observer, and today Montage got wind of
two more explosions in the Montecito minefield. Thursday Westmont
College neighbors filed an appeal to the Board of Supervisors
requesting a reversal the Montecito Planning Commission’s approval
of the college’s expansion project. And, within hours, a second
appeal was filed by Westmont College accepting the MPC’s approval,
but asking that certain conditions imposed by the MPC at the
November 20 hearing be reconsidered. “Westmont does not appeal the
approval, only certain conditions,” the appeal document says. “The
college is particularly concerned about Conditions 7 and 9
concerning parking and traffic caps and restrictions. As revised
and adopted by the MPC, Conditions 7 and 9 are in excess of the
MPC’s jurisdiction and authority because there is no nexus to any
identified impact of the proposed project that is supported by
substantial evidence in the record, and therefore such conditions
violate constitutional and statutory requirements.”

The residents against the project
view the traffic restrictions as inadequate,
while the College thinks the Planning
Commission

has overreached in their new conditions for the
project.

The neighbor’s appeal cites Condition 9 specifically. The
“Citizens Concerned Over Westmont Expansion” appeal says: “The
conditions of approval intended to regulate and control traffic
(Condition 9) are inadequate to prevent dramatic increases in
traffic that would be incompatible with the Montecito Community
Plan. Conversely, Westmont’s concern with Condition 9 states: “The
original language of Condition 9 arose as a voluntary offer by the
college to cap traffic, with serious consequences for exceeding the
cap, even though there was no significant traffic impact identified
during the extensive environmental review.” The Westmont appeal
document continues: “Westmont’s original voluntary offer to cap
traffic at 3,500 ADTs (average daily trips) was criticized based
upon the concern that weekend and non-school days have fewer
traffic trips occur on weekends and during school breaks, and
should not have been included in the average. In response, Westmont
proposed a much lower cap of 2,500 ADTs for these non-academic and
weekend days. The net result was a voluntary offer to cap
Westmont’s annual traffic over the entire year at 2,930 ADTs. This
annual average is far below the number of trips that the
(environmental impact review) considered to be acceptable. Westmont
cannot agree to a lower cap, as the college’s voluntary offer was
made in good faith as the lowest number that it could effectively
manage. The College also appealed “Condition 7,” as revised and
adopted by the MPC. “It a case of a “solution looking for a
problem.” the Westmont appeal says. “ There is no evidence of an
existing parking problem in the neighborhood, and no reason to fear
that a problem will be created in the future. Yet the MPC adopted
condition incorporates provisions that are unworkable, impractical
and ineffective, and will have adverse unintended consequences for
both Westmont and the neighbors in the vicinity of the College.
(For example, Condition 7 would allow students to rent parking in
the vicinity of campus and requires Westmont to issue “non-parking
permit” decals.)” “As revised and adopted by the MPC, Conditions 7
and 9 “go too far” and do not follow the Planning & Development
Department’s recommendations for these conditions in the staff
report dated October 30, 2006 (such staff recommendations for
Conditions 7 and 9 were acceptable to Westmont)” the appeal notes.
The neighbors’ appeal, signed by Pamela Lopker on behalf of
“Citizens Concerned Over Westmont Expansion,” includes the
following arguments for appeal consideration: The grounds for this
appeal include, but are not limited to the following:

1) The size, bulk and scale of this approximately 375,000 square
foot expansion—more than doubling the physical facilities of the
college is incompatible with the Montecito Community Plan, 2) The
traffic impact that will result from the project, even as
conditioned, are incompatible with the Montecito Community Plan 3)
Approval of the project violates applicable law because Westmont is
currently in violation of its Conditional Use Permit…currently
issue –(ing) substantially more parking decals parking permits
allowed by the CUP… 4) The approval of annexation of additional
non-taxpaying land t the land currently owned by Westmont is
unjustified. 5) The decision of the MPC was improperly influenced
by legally incorrect advice to the effect that absent project
approval Westmont would be entitled to build approximately 200,000
square feet of additional development without meaningful
discretionary regulatory power of the MPC. 6) The decision of the
MPC regarding annexation was improperly influenced by legally
incorrect advice regarding the MPC discretion to approve
annexation. 7) The decision of the Montecito Planning Commission
was based on a legally deficient environmental analysis that
suffered from fatal legal defects… 8) The decision of the MPC
purports to give Westmont a right to build out a new Master Plan
over an indefinite period of time, without discretionary review by
the County, which “right to build” is contrary to build is contrary
to California Law.

The Westmont College project, partially located on an old estate
in Montecito, has been in debate for over six years and just
recently, on November 20, received a green light from the MPC.
Almost immediately the opponents put out word that they would
appeal and Westmont responded, saying they had their own concerns
about the MPC’s limitations. The Board of Supervisors has not
scheduled a hearing, but some participants are hopeful it will
reach the appeal docket sometime in January.

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