Santa Barbara City Attorney Responds to Grand Jury on Funky Zoning Issue

City Agrees With Grand Jury Findings, But Won’t Implement All Recommendations

Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

Neighbors rose up against a seafood processing facility on the Eastside in 2015, claiming the
business was causing a stink; their concerns over odor, noise, and traffic were brought up to City
Council, eventually leading to a Santa Barbara Grand Jury review of the zoning and permitting
issues.

The December 2021 Grand Jury report presented a play-by-play of how things turned sour
between the anonymous complainants and the fish market facility at 528 N. Quarantina Street,
including recommendations as to how the city could prevent similar situations in the future.

The council unanimously approved City Attorney Ariel Calonne’s official response to the Grand
Jury report Tuesday, in which Calonne agreed with all six findings but noted that the city would
not be implementing the recommendations, stating among other things that people who live in a
commercial area should expect some noise and traffic.


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Among the Grand Jury findings was the fact that the city issued a building permit for the facility
in 2014 without input from the planning commission; the report recommended that the city hold
a public hearing for any zoning and permitting decisions “that may lead to obnoxious or
offensive operations in any zone.”

Calonne responded: “Santa Barbara processes literally thousands of such permits annually.
Implementing the recommendation would cost millions of dollars, even if lawful.”

The Grand Jury report questioned whether the company or the complainants were right about
their interpretation of the zoning ordinance, while the city contended its zoning language, could
lawfully allow the Santa Barbara Fish Market’s “food products manufacturing.”

The city also found that the facility had made “good faith” efforts to respond to all complaints,
including making renovations and signing a settlement agreement with the residents who made
the complaints. The agreement “recognized that the parties have differing interpretations of the
Santa Barbara city code” and allowed the company to continue operations at the location.


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