The community of Carpinteria is girding for the grand unveiling of the biggest development proposal to hit the much-cherished bluffs in years, including a 154-room hotel, 45 single family homes, and 40 units of rental housing, plus 11 units of live-work space. The development plans — slated for the 27-acre parcel now occupied by the driving range and farm fields between City Hall and the Venoco plant — are strictly conceptual with nothing submitted yet for environmental review.
A team of developers, including Jack Theimer along with architect Brian Cearnal and land-use agent Ken Marshall, hope to get a good read of the community response at a joint meeting of the Carpinteria City Council and Planning Commission. In addition, the conceptual plans call for an 8,000-square-foot hall for community meetings — much needed in Carpinteria — plus exercise and gym space and a 2.3-acre farm featuring “farm to fork” produce, not to mention a nine-hole “St. Andrews Himalayan” golf course. None of the structures would exceed two stories in height, and about 500 parking spaces would be provided underground.
Already the Carpinteria Valley Association has come out against the proposal, calling it too big and intense. The land in question is zoned primarily for residential, but the other proposed uses are allowed. City zoning is silent, however, as to how much of each is allowed, meaning it’s up to the discretion of elected and appointed decision makers to make the call. While Theimer is well-known in Santa Barbara development and political circles, the real developers are Neil Mehta out of Fullerton and Bradley M. Hall out of Beverly Hills. Three years ago, Theimer initiated efforts to develop a new hotel on another portion of the Carpinteria Bluffs, but that plan quickly fizzled.