This letter is in response to the Milpas Housing Proposal at 711 North Milpas that was “slammed” by the Architectural Board of Review. Like many residents of the neighborhood around Milpas, I was delighted to read that the city rejected the current proposal, yet I was dismayed at the reasoning for the rejection.
The Architectural Board of Review rejected the proposal because the building would be ugly. Ugly. In a part of town where the cost of living is rapidly exceeding the average pay; where families are forced to live in multi-generation households; where yet another luxury housing complex just popped up on Canon Perdido; in a place where the people are hurting, the city is worried about how the new building will look. This is an insult to the community.
If Santa Barbara wants to get serious about its housing crisis, it must make drastic changes. The citizens of this city do not want more luxury, $3,500-a-month apartments. They want dense, affordable housing. The city regulations on height for dense housing units must be abolished. Let developers come and make Santa Barbara a place for everyone, and not just the rich.
What will happen to local shops on Milpas street as the community becomes more gentrified with luxury housing? It will start to look like State Street, where there are only two types of storefronts: high-end retailers and vacant rooms. The only possible future for Santa Barbara is an equitable one, and dense housing is the way to start.