Bruce Bartlett, Architect and Planning Commissioner, Dies

Lengthy Career Created Notable Buildings and Renovations on the South Coast.

Bruce Bartlett serving on the Santa Barbara City Planning Commission in 2008.
Paul Wellman/file photo

Bruce Bartlett, architect and former planning commissioner and Architectural Board of Review member for the City of Santa Barbara, died last Friday at age 68 of pancreatic cancer. Among the more recent accomplishments of Bartlett’s 40-year career are the renovations to the Santa Barbara Bowl; Chapala One, now known as Sevilla; the new La Entrada going up on lower State Street; and UCSB’s Manzanita Village residence hall. He is survived by his wife, Ann, and his sons, Nick and Cord.

His co-founder at DesignARC, Mark Kirkhart, recalled that Bartlett would head off for the night “to go do homework for the Planning Commission” and that he was always prepared, reading reams of material on the issues. Bartlett’s work for the city and for his architecture and design firm can be seen and felt in many places around town.

The city’s Average Unit Density Incentive Program (AUD) and the Upper State Street Guidelines were being written when Bartlett was appointed to first the Architectural Board of Review for three years and then the Planning Commission for eight. One of the first buildings out of the gate in the AUD program, which seeks to build more affordable workforce housing within the city, is an 89-unit building going up at La Cumbre and State streets — within walking distance of grocery stores, bus lines, and other necessities of life — which Bartlett’s firm was chosen to design.

He also worked on the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance update, which codified “good neighbor” guidance on such issues as privacy, landscaping, lighting, and noise, and Plan Santa Barbara’s housing element. His insights on housing needs, said Beatriz Gularte, a senior planner for the city, were always directed toward making Santa Barbara a beautiful community.

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