The Bellosguardo Foundation has resubmitted its proposal to Santa Barbara officials for hosting tours of late Huguette Clark’s clifftop estate. The documents attached below offer the most detailed look yet at the seven-year-old nonprofit’s first steps toward opening the private grounds to the public and eventually transforming the dusty relic of turn-of-the-century opulence into a modern community center for the arts.
“By utilizing existing infrastructure with the addition of ADA ramps and restrooms the foundation can accommodate public access to the main house where it can experience it as it was when the Clark’s [sic] last visited in 1953,” the foundation, which is seeking conditional-use and coastal-development permits, said in a letter to the city’s Planning Commission. “In the future the foundation will return to the city with requests for permits to upgrade the facilities for expand [sic] parking, accessible areas, and guest experiences.”
The application’s operations plan shows Bellosguardo will offer “self-parking tours,” in which a maximum of 34 guests would park on the property and be directed toward a “rally point” for a docent-led tour of the first floor of the main house. Tours will be every hour and a half from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Reservations would be made through the foundation’s website. “On-site valet” tours will be conducted for larger groups of up to 63 guests. Ticket prices were not included.
The foundation’s application also seeks permission for different-sized special events each month with shuttle service: up to five special events for between 64-199 guests, up to two for between 200-500 guests, and five dance and theater performances for between 500-1,500 guests each. A separate letter stated Bellosguardo employs four full-time maintenance workers and anticipates hiring five more people when tours begin.
City planner Kathleen Kennedy said staff are still reviewing the new proposal, which comes eight months after its first draft was sent back with requests for more information. A final decision is expected by November 30. If approved, there would be an environmental review and vetting by the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission and Planning Commission. Approvals could be appealed to the state’s Coastal Commission.
Meanwhile, the Bellosguardo Foundation remains in delinquent status with the California Registry for Charitable Trusts after it failed to file complete financial records for the last three tax years. The nonprofit has a deadline of November 29 to conduct an outside audit or its 501(c)3 status could be suspended or revoked.