The Pearl Chase Society and the Santa Barbara Conservancy request an appeal to the City Council of the referenced HLC decision. The grounds for this appeal is that the proposed project design does not conform to the El Pueblo Viejo Guidelines; the proposed project impacts historic resources, especially the Presidio and its historic environs; and the project’s proposed site location, within the EPV district, is not appropriate for the intended high-density multi-residential use.
The project is within close proximity to the city’s historic core. The adjacent block to the southwest includes the Santa Barbara History Museum, the Meridian Studios and the Casa Covarrubius. The adjacent block to the northwest includes the main Post Office, El Cuartel and the Canedo adobe. Within two locks are El Presidio, El Paseo, De la Guerra Plaza and City Hall. The project shares frontage on Santa Barbara St. with the Anacapa School (next door), the Rochin Adobe and other 19th and early 20th Century buildings.
Due to the site’s close proximity to this sensitive area, we believe that a high-density AUD project is highly inappropriate. Furthermore, we believe that the city’s AUD overlay map of the site and immediate area to the southwest is incorrect. It shows the 700 block, which contains the History Museum, Meridian Studios and Casa Covarrubius adobe, all to be within the high density residential area. Obviously, this is in error. If the map is corrected with the 700 block changed to its rightful historiczone, then the 800 Santa Barbara St. address naturally becomes part of the contiguous buffer zone along with the remainder of the frontage on the block. The buffer zone as identified in the city’s Historic Resource Element HR 2.8 states – “Employ historic resource buffers … AII development proposed within 250 feet of historic adobe structures, El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park and areas inclusive of the original footprint of the Presidio and other City landmarks to be selected may be subject for additional protection. Such protection may require adjustment in height, bulk, size and setbacks.” Wedo not believe the HLC addressed these protections, except for the increased setbacks shown in the developers’ latest design.
The current property as exists provides a significant buffer of mature trees. Of the 27 trees on the property, the development proposes that only 9 be retained and protected, 15 removed, 3 relocated, and 17 new trees added. We feel this is too severe a reduction of important buffering vegetation.
We also believe another impacting element that was not carefully scrutinized by the HLC, is the underground parking garage. The access to the parking garage facing the street adversely affects pedestrian scale and the visual streetscape. Being a buried garage will require mechanical equipment to draw out the concentration of automobile fumes. The proximity of such exhaust venting in relationship to the Anacapa School we do not believe was adequately addressed by the HLC.
The project proposes to wall-off the neighboring Anacapa School with a 6 feet and higher property-line wall. We believe the wall and the three-story building elements cut-off solar access along the southfacing exposure of the school, which also was not adequately addressed by the HLC.
The project is mixed use and contains a commercial unit. How it fits into the residential units has not been addressed by HLC.
One of the HLC members commented that he was bothered by the three story portions of the proposed buildings. But then voted in favor of the project as designed. We believe that the three story element is one of the most problematic features of the development. It is not compatible with neighboring structures. This would set an adverse precedent to the Santa Barbara Street corridor, which presently has no comparable multi-residential projects of this height and size.
We also disagree with an HLC comment that since the developer has been in the process for such a long period of time that they should not be penalized with any reversals of previous approvals. When an item such as a mislabeling of the overlay map is discovered, it should not be swept aside. This is the physical reality of the situation and will not relieve the permanent counter-aesthetic consequences of the project being built within the historic core of the city.
President Pearl Chase Society
632 East Sola St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103