After nearly six hours of public testimony from the dueling factions, the Santa Barbara City Council wrestled a last-minute compromise into place over plans to expand the Valle Verde retirement home on Modoc Road. Valle Verde has proposed building 37 new housing units while at the same time expanding the size of many of its existing apartments. Some neighbors objected that Valle Verde is doing such a poor job providing employee parking under its current configuration that no new expansion should be allowed.
While both sides packed the chambers with articulate and passionate champions, Valle Verde had the clear edge when it came to raw numbers. Its supporters cited the pressing need for senior housing; they cited the efforts Valle Verde has made over the past five years to meet neighbors more than halfway; and they cited the 9.8 acres that Valle Verde has pledged to dedicate as undeveloped open space in perpetuity. Opponents showed photographs of nearby streets choked with cars, telling horror stories of near misses and actual collisions caused. They talked of special events drawing up to 8,500 visitors a year. Valle Verde executives highlighted their plan to build — for the first time — an employee parking lot. They agreed to abide by a condition requiring residents and employees to park on-site and not on the streets. They also agreed to relocate one of the new units and to shuttle visitors to and from larger events.
While some councilmembers noted Valle Verde could have made life easier on themselves by building an underground parking garage — which would have reduced the need to spread out and encroach on neighbors — the council voted 6-0 to approve the expansion plans.