There comes a point in the development of most cities when the beauty, character, and social structure are cast aside for the almighty dollar. That moment has arrived in Santa Barbara.
I am sure many people have noticed the new housing project between Milpas and Salinas on the mountain side of the freeway. This project is a replacement for the old trailer park that was there. These are DMV licensed mobile homes … two-story doghouse-lookin structures towering so close to the new decorative sound wall that they (with their small single window) literally stare down into the windows of passing vehicles. They are uniform little cubicles not wider than a car lane. This is a huge step back in urban design, a step that Santa Barbara County has fought for decades. Greenbelts and buffer zones have given way to cheap, ugly, high-density housing.
Santa Barbara and its surrounding communities have always put a high value on visual aesthetics. While driving the freeway from Carpinteria to Goleta, one encounters beautiful vistas, amazing specimen trees, and lush landscape. The buildings are set back to provide a buffer zone between the noise, dirt, and grime that freeways inherently produce. These beautiful vistas are a wonderful welcome to our area for residents and travelers alike.
Low-cost housing is a good thing. This isn’t low-cost housing for the future tenants, starting at $1,500 per month for a one-bedroom shoebox. It is high density, high cost per square foot (for the tenants), poorly designed cracker boxes. It’s a low building cost that translates to high revenue for the owner. “Urban blight”!
How could a local architect firm design and build such a horrible looking development and get it passed through Design and Review? What happened to standards in existence for years that were obviously set aside creating this eyesore?