The city’s Historic Landmarks Commission recently reviewed a proposal for an electric-vehicle charging station at the former Greyhound bus depot at the corner of Chapala and Carrillo streets.
The charging station is the newest in a line of ideas for the lot, which has stood vacant since 2012 and seen a number of proposed projects that never broke ground, including a commercial/office building approved in 2017.
The concept of the station received general support from commissioners for its forward-thinking purpose, though preliminary designs were criticized for failing to fit within the strict Spanish Colonial Revival aesthetics laid out in “El Pueblo Viejo” guidelines.
“I think Santa Barbara needs this service,” said commissioner Dennis Doordan. “But I do think this project has a long way to go.”
Commissioner William Mahan questioned whether the proposed building materials would fit the traditional mold of wood, stucco, and red tile typically found in Santa Barbara, but he agreed that an electric-vehicle charging station would be a great addition to the city’s legacy of environmentalism.
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“Personally, I’m very excited about having an electric charging station in Santa Barbara,” Mahan said. “Santa Barbara is one of the fountainheads of the environmental movement that started with our oil spill in 1969.”
Electrify America, the company spearheading the project, currently has more than 500 charging stations across the country and teamed up with architects from Gensler for the design, which is expected to be heavily modified before moving forward through the approvals process.
Project manager Lauren Peletta presented the idea for 20 eight-foot-tall charging stations, where a charge would take about 30 minutes for a newer-model electric car; Tesla-model vehicles would be able to use the chargers with a converter.
Peletta was very optimistic about the premier location, which she said was a “star property right in the middle of downtown,” and developers were open to the idea of changing the designs to fit the area.
The property is precluded from being used for residential, hospital, school, or day care purposes due to soil contamination found in 2014 from a former dry cleaners at the site.