Coast Village Story

Battle Over "Gateway to Montecito" Project Rages On

Story poles at the 76 Station on Coast Village Road.
J'Amy Brown

With almost half of the City of Santa Barbara Planning Commission leaving the room due to conflicts of interest, the Commission heard a proposal by Santa Barbara businessman John Price to build what he calls the Coast Village Road Gateway Project. The site-at 1298 Coast Village Road, on the corner of Coast Village and Olive Mill Roads-is currently home to a 76 gas station.

Price stated that of the two development options he has-installing new petroleum tanks and building a new, larger filling station, or, alternatively, building a three-story mixed-use condominium-the latter option is better for the community. “I’d like to use this opportunity to do something special with this property,” he said. “We feel that this is a fitting gateway to Coast Village Road.” Price has also stated that the height of the building-35 feet with a 40-foot tower-is below the 45-foot building height limit set by the City.

The development proposed by Price includes eight units and 38 parking spaces, with the streetfront units on the ground floor to be used for commercial uses. Residential units would be included on the upper floors, and the building would include street, underground, and covered parking spaces. It would include solar electric panels on the roof and adobe with red tile roof styling.

The site’s neighbors, Sandy and John Wallace, are opposed to the development, saying that it will destroy their privacy. And while members of the Planning Commission stated that they have received about 200 letters from the public, with the majority of them being in favor of the development, the majority of the public speakers at today’s hearing were in opposition. “We think the city staff has applied city standards to this project, when it should be more sensitive to the needs of Montecito residents,” said Derek Weston, a Montecito resident. “The architecture is beautiful, but there’s too much of it. We believe the scale of this project to be inappropriate.”

Activists from Save Coast Village Road – a grassroots organization aimed at keeping development in check – showed in force, and are vehemently opposed to the proposed project, opining that its proximity to the three-story Montecito Inn will cause a “canyonization” of Coast Village Road. The Montecito Association supported the project two years ago, but sent in a comment letter recently opposing it.

After hearing several hours of testimony, the Planning Commission unanimously decided to continue the item until Thursday, March 20 at 1 p.m., stating that they needed more time to review the project’s details. “We’ve had enough testimony today to choke a horse,” one man was heard saying. The Commission reminded members of the public that the comment period on this issue is over, and the Commission should not be contacted in regards to its consideration of the project.

Having annexed the land in the 1950s, the City of Santa Barbara has jurisdiction over 1298 Coast Village Road. Some Montecito residents stated that they would like the Montecito Planning Commission have some input.

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