New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

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By edhat staff

A new development project has been proposed that will demolish and rebuild an entire block in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone.

The area includes the block cornered by Santa Barbara Street, E. Mason Street, Gray Avenue, and E. Yanonali Street. Tentatively labeled "SOMO Funk," a nod to being south of Montecito Street, the massive project is planning four stories of mixed-use development in the Coastal Zone with a tentative subdivision map for apartments and commercial condominiums.

The proposal includes demolition of existing structures except for the 523-square-foot silo, and construction of an approximately 193,725-square-foot mixed-use development on a 2.1-acres. A total of 156 residential units (144 rental units and 12 condominiums), of which 29 would be affordable, with a proposed density of 74 units per acre.

The proposed nonresidential floor area totals 19,202 square feet to include restaurant and retail use. A total of 210 parking spaces are proposed (114 residential and 96 commercial) using a combination of standard spaces, mechanical lifts, and valet service.

The project's site map (Source: Architectural Board of Review Proposal)

Cearnal Collective is the architect, CJM::LA the landscape designer, and RRM Design Group is the civil engineer for the project.  

Described as a "cluster of unique buildings and identities that maintain the scale and character of the neighborhood," the project intends to break up the perimeter of the block with many public alleys to create a "porous and open block to the neighborhood."

"The project site design also preserves many of the iconic architectural elements of the funk zone including The Silo, The Loading Dock, The Weber Bakery brick wall, and The Train Spur. The
Loading Dock is proposed to function as an outdoor space during the day and as the actual site loading dock during the early morning delivery time. The Loading Dock is lined with Artist Studios with roll up
garage doors making the space and indoor/outdoor artist area. Features such as the original train tracks of the train spur that served the Weber Bakery is preserved and the original Weber Bakery Silo is
re-purposed as a staircase," according to the project proposal.

Additionally, the project is proposed using State Density Bonus Law (SDBL) and the City’s Density Bonus Program for additional density, and includes requests for the following concessions and development standard waivers under SDBL:

• To apply the Average Unit-Size Density (AUD) Incentive Program Priority Housing Overlay density (up to 63 dwelling units per acre) instead of the existing Medium High Residential (up to 27 dwelling units per acre) land use designation allowed on this site;
• To allow the proportion of residential uses to be 87% of the project’s total floor area instead of being limited to 70%;
• To allow a 60-foot maximum building height instead of 45 feet;
• To allow a maximum of 4 stories instead of 3 stories; and
• To allow common outdoor living space to be ~8.2% instead of 15% of the total lot area.

As the Funk Zone has evolved into a gathering place of hipster eateries and boozing, the artistic vibe has never faded. Several artist's studios and galleries are in the area that boasted a robust Art Walk scene before the pandemic. Now, artists and makers are worried this new project will push and price them out of the Funk Zone.

On June 25, the project team held a virtual "neighborhood meeting" with current residential and commercial tenants in the project area and neighbors. The tenants offered a variety of suggestions to the project team including increasing the number of artist studios, adding live/work studios, and allowing existing artist tenants to be grandfathered in or given priority for renting the new studios. Additional concerns were raised about traffic, parking, and the loss of mountain views.

The Planning Commission met on July 2 for a concept review of the project. While the majority of commissioners showed support in its initial stages, no formal decisions were made as the application has yet to be submitted.

The project team pushed for a straw poll for planning commissioners on a variety of questions relating to the project. When it came to questions on housing, the majority of commissioners voiced approval for the project despite concerns regarding nearly every other aspect such as scale, height, parking, traffic, outdoor space, views, and affordability.

Commissioner Barrett Reed recused himself from hearing this item due to a financial interest in a nearby property.

Some of the current tenants in the project area were dismayed to find additional artist studios were not added as discussed in the neighborhood meeting. Additionally, the label on the proposed collaborative artist space was changed to a potential gallery or collaborative space.

The Architectural Board of Review (ABR) also held a concept review on July 13, although no final appealable decision was made as the project requires compliance with the Project Compatibility Analysis and other guidelines. The majority of concerns centered around the mass of the building and asked for story poles for the board and public to get a better sense of its size.

"The building is approaching a balance between previously unacceptable mass, bulk, and scale and housing given the new priority of providing housing in this area," according to the meeting's minutes.

While the project is still in its beginning stages and nothing has been approved, current tenants and neighbors are left with a lot of questions and concerns for their future.


[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article included incorrect square footage and residential units.]

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a-1596573869 Aug 04, 2020 01:44 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Drive through the Eastside and see the huge number of city multi-story housing projects. What do you mean this downtown Funk Zone project is housing for the "Missing Middle"? The new housing on the Eastside looks fabulous - sounds like the "missing middle" are snobs, and only want housing downtown near the beach so we residents are required to pay the price for this "Missing Middle" housing demand with denser and taller, totally view blocking, monstrosities. No, no, no. "Missing Middle" go rent or buy what you can afford, where you can afford it because we can't afford to give up our town just because you don't want to live in all these new housing projects on the Eastside. Perfectly wonderful neighborhoods and homes in the Eastside for the "Missing Middle". This over-development of the downtown for the Missing Middle is a complete scam. Take the commuter bus and buy what you can afford outside of town; but you do not get to ruin this town for your own whims.

goletathegood Aug 02, 2020 09:53 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

I see many people complaining here, but how many of you have put your money where your mouth is, and supported the grass roots organizations that are fighting this corrupted destruction of our city and county. And I don't mean the bike guys, because they are partly funded by $100,000's of our tax dollars, thanks to Das.
This "Funk Zone" project will have less parking than exists there now-
locations that workers currently use for parking will be built over- and they expect people to walk to De La Guerra Plaza?
This project will fail like the Entrada Project, and the congestion will increase because the City took away 50% of State St. carrying capacity.
Try getting a variance for your home remodel- they will trash your plans; but if you a re a buddy developer, you can build a monster property, and make room for plenty of new low-income tenants that we will help support.
Next time we need to evacuate, remember who narrowed the streets and grew the density.

SBLetsGetAlong Aug 01, 2020 09:40 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Below the Blue Line?
The City Council says that in 30 years lower State St and every thing below the Blue Line will be underwater.
Very irresponsible to allow building and residential in this area as many people may loose their lives to tsunami or flooding and global warming.
Or do they only say the environmental stuff to get elected?
Then take developers monies knowing that they are selling death traps in 3 decades?
Remember the Montecito Debris Flow? That occurred in the same spot in 1969, but the government allowed building there anyway.
Same with the la Conchita slide decades ago.
So what is it City Council & Zoning? Greed or don’t believe in sea level rise?

Plambsb Jul 31, 2020 10:48 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Before 1980, car dealerships lined lower State Street, the California Hotel was a flop house with a breakfast diner below. Behind State Street was the real funk zone, artists, surfboard shapers, furniture makers, who used the cheap industrial buildings. The Feed Store moved into the back streets, a restaurant and entertainment, dancing venue. On State St. across from the car lots was Starboard Marine and in the back Sundance Windsurfing set up shop. Soon to follow was Channel Islands Surfboards with Al Merrill working behind in the funk zone. The Beach House and Mountain Air Sports survived over the last 40 years of gentrification of lower State Street.
One request is that Santa Barbara not cave in to the elite and tourists who pay high prices for what should be available to all in Santa Barbara.

a-1596213953 Jul 31, 2020 09:45 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Funk implies musical... Look it up--means a state of fright, cowardice! As plotted, this will change the character of this place forever and for the worse. 29 Affordable units that will still be unaffordable for a slave class of government workers or "service providers". Should have been middle class units and 29 millionaire units? Why are we losing our signature Mediterranean look ( ( or Latin character) for a Downtown LA build up to block the view from the sea of the real beauty. Modern Hispanic is possible. We are a state over 40% hispanic--hello. We are a small ocean community not a San Jose Business district-- parking, what a joke! This is ugly as the intent that spawned it! RUIN Santa Barbara so LA people feel at home and architects can ruin a city.s soul? Proves we are losing it to fake history, and political power plays. This is not a "funk music" village look--We are already boxed in....more boxes we will need to get out of!

a-1596305914 Aug 01, 2020 11:18 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Yes, back in the '80s a friend was 'awarded' a lottery winning ticket to a subsidized housing condo on Modoc by the developer for supporting that same developer in letters and appearances before the planning commission and the city council. He lived in it for a few years and has rented it out ever since.

a-1596215540 Jul 31, 2020 10:12 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

We do need an audit on who exactly does get these "affordable" units - how neutral is the lottery and what is their status of these windfall "affordable" units today? A few decades ago an audit of subsidized housing projects was shocking - many of them getting sublet out for market rates by the original recipient. Who in fact benefits - what businesses get this tax payer subsidized benefit at what overall cost to the community in lost tax revenues. How many in fact do end up in government employee hands, due some shady insider dealings when these are finally handed out. What happens when no one is looking decades later and tenancy or ownership changes hands?

jenninSB Jul 31, 2020 08:58 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

This architect always gets his way in Santa Barbara. Go ahead and try and fight it but he is responsible for most of the overbuilt, pushing to the edge, limited parking projects in town

a-1596215608 Jul 31, 2020 10:13 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

It is odd when there are hundreds of hungry architects in this town, that only one name dominates the scene. How did this happen? How did he learn to play the inside game.

Watcher237 Jul 31, 2020 05:17 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Santa Barbara will always be the collective representation of the sum of its population at any given time. You bet it changes! Not always for the best. But also not always permanently! If you live here, be a part of the way you want it to be. No excuses. Everything can always improve.

Yeti Jul 31, 2020 05:37 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

I can't remember seeing it on Craigslist, but how much did Santa Barbara sell it's soul for? Big developments like this may provide some short-term boost in tax revenue, but it will never make up for the shortfall over the long term of employee pension balances and all of the other deficits. The government has to get serious about cutting their budgets and tightening their belts. Giving away more to developers is not the solution! These developments are soul suckers that bring us one step closer to canyonization and LA style density. It's very sad.

a-1596211389 Jul 31, 2020 09:03 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Yeti, there is myth among city staffers growth is both good and necessary to fund their own salaries and pensions. City council persons beholden to city employee unions have never questioned this. Ironically, the city's now only remaining revenue stream comes from property taxes so degrading this community overall with their misguided policies will destroy future property tax growth. But most city insiders who made these long strings of really bad community planning decisions over the past 20 "progressive" years in this town will be long gone, cashing in their own pensions and many moving out of state so we never see those dollars recirculated in our own local community. In the midst of this municipal malfeasance is never reckoning with how much property they took off the property tax rolls and put into non-profit hand-out "affordable" housing just to gain re-election creds. We are still a town who thinks candidates who 'raise the most money" (99% from special interest groups) is the most favored candidate to vote for. Plus the ingrained voting block of city employee union members who have direct and immediate interests electing more of the same. District elections has been a total disaster. New city council reps are far more interested in handing our personal favors on the fly, than crafting sound long term city policy. Voters did get the government they deserved. A new independent movement must take back this town from the past 20 years of "progressive" mismanagement.

JB86 Jul 31, 2020 02:35 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

One simple issue, parking, is a fatal flaw. It is already a problem, and a reason why a lot of people do not go there. Providing less than one off-street parking space per residential unit is nuts. Maybe this is urban-planning PC, but in itself is enough to keep me away.

SB Barbarian Jul 31, 2020 11:01 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

It's not nuts if you plan on the additional revenue from parking violations to increase substantially. I'm not saying it's correct or the best thing for residents, just not nuts if all you care about is the revenue.

420722 Jul 30, 2020 11:23 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

NO NO NO. Just like the signs posted along the Jacarandas on mission about renaming San Andres. I’ll say it again. No! This type of bulky LA style architecture is not needed or wanted in tiny Santa Barbara.

a-1596174197 Jul 30, 2020 10:43 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

CAD architecture tools can only easily can draw straight lines - which is why all new projects look so terrible, lazy, sterile, cut and paste, and 100% unappealing. Clients and the city should demand original free hand drawings only, before we turn this entire city into computer-drawn ticky tacky boxes. Bring art back into architecture. Otherwise, get your plans from LeggoLand.

a-1596169826 Jul 30, 2020 09:30 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Sheila Lodge in the 1970's led the slow growth take over of city council and kicked out the huge developer corruption that was ready to put in 14 story high rise in what is now Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens. She led a grass roots group at that time that took the city back, against the most entrenched powers that be. Same energy can do this again. God love, Sheila Lodge. Create a core group, get a GoFundMe or friends donations for some exploratory seed money, consult a campaign specialist and then pull papers, start an official campaign committee, run as a slate and then hold the line once in office. Have a cup of coffee with Shiela and let her tell you how she did it. The good old days here were good because good people stood up and took back their power over the future of this town. Term limits, low voter turnout and the power of city special interest groups snatched that power away from voters who stopped caring. And look what they did with it. No more. Just say no to any further degradation of this town. And it is a town, a small interconnected town - stand up and be counted.

a-1596169291 Jul 30, 2020 09:21 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Everything wrong with this project is a function of who we vote for to sit on city council. They appoint the Planning Commission; they appoint the ABR; they write the zoning ordinance. We have a terrible group sitting on city council right now. We simply have to vote them all out of office. Few of them have any experience at all before getting elected or appointed to city council so never ever think you are not qualified to also run for city council. This is the least experienced and least seasoned group of council members we have ever had and it shows. Be willing to run - you care about this town which already makes you more qualified than any other special interest know-nothing currently sitting on the council. Do not be intimidated - just look at the prior qualifications of every single one of them and compare them to your own skill set. You stop this trashing if our city by getting rid of the ones who did this to us.

Justavoice Jul 30, 2020 09:03 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Unfortunately none of your opinions matter because money talks. SB has officially peaked.
All this wonderful “change” and much needed “diversity” for the “housing crisis” and “low income. Won’t help anyone but the developers.
We’re about to be like Venice Beach
Homeless everywhere....way too expensive and most likely human defecation on the street.

a-1596167499 Jul 30, 2020 08:51 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

This is horrendous. What an ugly monstrosity. A previous commenter was right. Who the hell are these for? Certainly not for regular people. Please stop messing with our city. Cernal is a greedy developer who has no clue what History, charm and culture are.

a-1596165145 Jul 30, 2020 08:12 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Can we please just stop this thing now- these people have no sense of "there" or here..... eg "there is no there there".....they create their pretend little upper middle class elitist compounds, commercializing and appropriating the terminology of the past-- to provide a cookie cutter vacation home [because, come on, that's what those units will be] for out of towners. Look what was done to Venice beach? Abbot-Kinney?? Please folks, let's get together on this one...

40900 Jul 30, 2020 05:34 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

If that is actually a dog peeing on a fire hydrant on slide 3 of 8 above, then that is my view of this project. And the Drunk Zone in general, for that matter. Gentrification of SB at its finest.

a-1596153686 Jul 30, 2020 05:01 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Which one is uglier? The huge new Castillo-Carrillo lumpish behemoth at 101; or this latest over-hip Cernal Contraption. Why do so many people want to destroy everything Santa Barbara has long stood for and the reason they even want to be here in the first place: no more than two stories with deep setbacks and yes, Spanish-Moorish charm. No more catering to these hordes of new people who demand we destroy this town just so they can "afford" to live here. Come back later, when you can afford to live here. Time for a new city council who no longer hates Santa Barbara. Time to get rid of district elections and back to at-large voting for the good of the entire city. Everything went down hill after the city moved to district elections - a total disaster. Plus it met none of the goals of the CVRA- voter participation did not increase and now all we have is a squabbling batch of inexperienced kids running the show.

a-1596234031 Jul 31, 2020 03:20 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

No. Every city that fought against district elections lost. That is why S.B. didn’t go to court in the lawsuit that was filed. The City knew they would lose.

a-1596170629 Jul 30, 2020 09:43 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

How do we go about getting rid of district elections? Has it ever been done? Will we be sued by the ACLU? All would be worthwhile if we could get rid of the sitting SB City Council.

123805 Jul 30, 2020 02:52 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

While this project is being touted as "arts-oriented" and "community-minded," I hope that people can see that what's behind those labels is superficial. In reality, the plans include only six artist studios, which wouldn't be all that functional - quite small at approx. 12' x 16' and would have no natural light unless the roll-up doors were open. There is also one collaborative art space included, the purpose and functionality of which remain nebulous. For comparison, on the block there are currently five studios (plus a gallery) at Mason Street alone, an additional studio and gallery at the silo, and then the loading dock section, the quonset hut, and the Green House all have multiple artists and studios. So what makes this project "arts-oriented"? Labels in the plans include "Art Garage" (the idea is to have the interior painted in an artful way), "Artist Courtyard", "Exhibit Alley" and "The Gallery" (a patio space). There are mural concepts on the buildings in the illustrations, and metal water tanks of a sculptural nature. In multiple presentations there has been mention of painting the utility boxes in a fun way. This is how the project team proposes to make this a project about the arts - with deceptive labels and surface-level decorations. Artists don't need painted utility boxes. They need sufficient, affordable studio space, live/work units, exhibition space, adequate restrooms and clean-up facilities, storage, parking...basically this would mean implementing and managing an art program/organization on site in order to actually support the arts.

bumblebee Jul 30, 2020 01:37 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

This project will be outstanding for the following:
1) When the sea level rises, it will become the Venice of Santa Barbara and
2) When the next pandemic hits, because of its small quarters and high density, it will be
virus heaven.

sblocal1967 Jul 30, 2020 01:18 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

This is awesome. Great to see people willing to invest in our city. It was just a matter of time that all of this land/property near the ocean was going to get transformed from industrial to commercial/residential. I am hoping an investor will do the same with the Sears location.

SBTownie Jul 30, 2020 01:07 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

I'm young and pro-development and can see why we don't necessarily need to build some Spanish-Moroccan fantasy in the Funk Zone, but this is straight up awful. I really hope this does not pass in its current form. It is inappropriate in scale, and the whole "street art" things are just cringe beyond belief and entirely tasteless. This is NOT Santa Barbara.

mp805 Jul 30, 2020 12:49 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

The comments here are amazing, We seriously need to push back on this monstrosity...The real conversation that needs to be had is how to revitalize downtown especially Paseo Nuevo that will have 2 big Department stores empty! Nordstroms is planned to close this month!

Minibeast Jul 30, 2020 12:48 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

This reminds me a bit of Cannery Row in Monterey. Sometime in the late 70s-early 80s a bunch of developers decided to "revitalize" and rebuild Cannery Row into a more attractive-to-tourists tourist trap. As a result, The Row lost its history, its feel. It became "Restaurant Row" with T-shirt shop after T-shirt shop, turned into a seaside mini-mall. Sure, the place gets lots of visitors, but it could be Anywhere, USA along the coast. ************Now developers want to build out our beach front, erecting this FOUR story unimaginative "cluster of unique buildings and identities . . ." ************ It is a profit-mongering, pocket-liner of a project coming to us under the guise of glamorization and modernization of the Funk Zone. What we have instead is yet another tragic assault on and demolition of of our town's history and charm. Rather than helping our local artists and artisans and keeping our Funk Zone something different and remarkable, we become bland and cookie-cutter and Anywhere, USA.

a-1596306423 Aug 01, 2020 11:27 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

The main draw of Santa Barbara WAS its low key lived environment and total lack of superficial glitz. She's now resembling an aging hooker covered in cheap makeup.

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