Accelerating his already aggressive meet-and-greet campaign, Los
Angeles mall developer Rick Caruso launched a
“Memories of the Miramar” effort, soliciting
anecdotes and artifacts from community members with strong feelings
tied to the once beloved, now tattered beachfront hotel. Caruso
just purchased the Miramar from Ty Warner, who complained he was
victimized by Montecito activists affiliated with various design
review boards. While Warner refused to interact personally with the
community, Caruso has made a point of pressing the flesh. This
latest effort, he said, will help shape a very upscale but
family-oriented resort. Caruso also said he is accredited by the
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) organization,
and that pay for the approximately 100 service staff members will
exceed union scale.

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing will begin
construction on 12 new, small, affordable rental
that will be shoehorned onto the back of the new
Granada parking garage in downtown Santa Barbara, thanks largely to
City Hall. Not only is the Redevelopment Agency providing a
low-interest loan of $1.5 million, but it’s leasing the
land – which it owns – for $1. The one-room apartments will rent
for $560-$680 a month to people making 50-60 percent of the South
Coast median income, which for a two-person home is $51,700. The
apartments will offer no parking, so those with jobs downtown are
being targeted.

Santa Barbara County supervisors voted unanimously to tweak the
guidelines governing the ways they can allocate Coastal
Resource Enhancement Funds
(CREF). Paid to the county by
oil companies as a form of mitigation for coastal impacts, half of
CREF has historically been used for land acquisitions such as
Ellwood Mesa, with the other half going to general facilities
projects on existing recreational lands. Looking to increase CREF’s
buying power, the supervisors voted to allocate 65 percent of the
money to acquisition efforts and 35 percent to general projects.
The supervisors also directed staff to explore the possibility of
creating a plan for maximizing returns on CREF and to consider
whether oil companies could substitute land rights in lieu of their
mitigation payments.

The Board of Supervisors granted Westmont
’s appeal of two of the conditions the Montecito
Planning Commission had placed on plans for additional
on-campus buildings
. The supervisors will not require
Westmont students without campus parking permits to place decals on
their cars identifying them as unauthorized to park on nearby
streets. Supervisors also set the cap on average daily trips along
Cold Springs Road at 3,500. A program allowing residents to monitor
the number of trips along the street will be placed on the school’s
Web site.

City councilmembers, planners, and members of the public
expressed concern that two large-scale developments
proposed for upper State Street
have gotten substantially
bigger since City Hall began studying the area in response to
public concern about traffic and development there. Councilmembers
and planning commissioners worried that plans for a Whole Foods at
the Circuit City site and a three-story, 73-unit condo project at
the Sandman Inn site have grown in size despite planning efforts to
reign in such proposals. A League of Women Voters spokesperson said
the disconnect between the city’s concerns and the development
results could jeopardize the legitimacy of a planning effort to
revisit the city’s general plan, beginning next month. The two
developments got bigger at the suggestion of city officials who
urged more housing.


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