Let Rick Caruso go back to wherever it is that he builds malls. He clearly isn’t the sort of hotelier that Santa Barbara needs. He isn’t even a minor league innkeeper.
The Miramar property is too big for Caruso’s bankroll and his credit line. The property may be too big and too pricey for any economically viable hotel. It’s a lousy piece of real estate for a hotel, sandwiched between an overcrowded freeway, a noisy single-track railroad line, and litigious neighbors wishing they hadn’t fallen for the same realtor babble that suckered Ian Schraeger, Ty Warner, and then Rick Caruso.
It is certainly too big a property and project to fail and keep the Montecitonians happy. A modest proposal is in order.
The property should be subdivided. Cut the flanks off for a pair of residential areas with a swanky zip code, easy freeway access, ritzy property taxes, coastal mildew and the romantic rumble of trains in the night. Build an economically viable hotel in the middle piece. Ideally, the project should be locally funded and managed so that we don’t have outsiders buying our politicians to gain the required approvals.
This course appears to fit the needs of the county’s most successful hotel operator, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Their expertise in navigating local bureaucracy combined with their excellent credit rating could make it work. They have experience dealing with lawsuit-prone neighbors, they need housing, and they should reclaim some of their coastal heritage.