Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

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By edhat staff

The Architectural Board of Review (ABR) provided mixed reviews of the new Santa Barbara Police Station on E. Cota Street during their meeting on Monday.

The three-story, 53-foot high, 65,000 square foot station will take over the commuter parking lot at 119 E. Cota Street, where the Saturday Farmer's Market takes place. An associated 37.5-foot high and 86,000 square foot parking structure will also be built to accommodate 244 parking spaces. Each structure would have a subterranean level and additional surface parking would be provided. 

Additionally, a total of 24 Tipuana tipu trees and 6 oak trees would be removed, but replaced with 26 new trees and have 700 solar panels installed. The existing MTD bus stop shelter on Cota Street would be relocated, along with the existing plaques commemorating the old Lincoln School. 

The $80 million police headquarters project, lead by architect Brian Cearnal, will consolidate police operations from four separate sites.

ABR members provided a range of thoughts during the concept review. One member stated the current design leaves no room for expansion and it just barely fits the site selection. Other comments included critiques of the design stating it's too modern and cold, doesn't offer community openness, and doesn't fit with Santa Barbara's Mediterranean Spanish architecture.

There were no issues with the size of the building but concerns were raised about the main entrance being on the one-way Santa Barbara Street and the Cota Commuter Lot not being the best location.

The project will move to the Planning Commission for review providing public comment options.

Artistic renderings by Cearnal Collective of the new Santa Barbara Police Station at 119 E. Cota Street

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Bird Nov 18, 2020 01:42 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Wow, how Santa Barbara it is --- tile roofs on top of a large white rectangle, complete with palm trees, replacing the oaks and Tipuana tipu trees. And just so appropriate for a police station, there are no casual strolling city people with their dogs. It feels forbidding, just as for some a police station is. What a change from the farmers market!

doulie Nov 18, 2020 02:09 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

I agree the building looks "too modern & cold," especially for the oldest part of town.
Was consideration given to adding/including arches in the building? What was housed in the four separate sites that will be in the new building? This has been a long time coming.

a-1605813720 Nov 19, 2020 11:22 AM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

State Street is just one block away and this design resembles the massively ugly one proposed for the former Staples location on Gutierrez. No surprise there, it's by the same architect. It's not just criminals and cops that go to a police station but Santa Barbarans for licenses, etc. And many of us like to think that the face of our SBPD is welcoming and protective, not aggressively in-your-face as this design looks to be.

a-1605890258 Nov 20, 2020 08:37 AM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Agreed! Why so cold and modernistic? The design is awful in my opinion. There are so many beautiful buildings in Santa Barbara to emulate, for example, the courthouse, Cottage Hospital, etc. Why not add some arches?!

giftedinSB Nov 18, 2020 03:00 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

For the people saying the building looks cold and uninviting, isn't that what a police station is supposed to be like? I don't think I've ever thought of a police station as warm or inviting.

Bird Nov 19, 2020 11:40 AM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Yes, Doulie, it is similar to some of the proposals for the block-away State Street designs, especially one for the former Staples property. That one is proposed to be tall and massive - this looks massive but apparently? isn't tall, but it is cold ...and to those who love Santa Barbara's architectural historic style (that brings in so many visitors), ugly. Guess what, it's by the same designer.

Babycakes Nov 18, 2020 03:04 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Please keep in mind that this building has been needed for quite some time, and should accommodate the SBPD for many/many years. People have gotten used to the Farmer's Market at this location, but the FM has become a bit run down and shabby in my opinion. The new building will certainly be an improvement to that area, which needs an upgrade. Plus, De la Cruz Park will be usable once again....especially kids who live in the nearby neighborhood. The FM only serves the needs of a few dozen folks, and can/should be moved to another location such as Alameda Park, Schott Center, DLG Plaza, MacKenzie Park, Sears/La Cumbre, or on top level of the numerous multi-story parking structures that we have in town.

a-1605911939 Nov 20, 2020 02:38 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Remember when Goleta ended up delaying Target by literal years because they said the design was "TOO RED"? It's almost comical, until you realize how much time and money these review boards are wasting.

PitMix Nov 18, 2020 04:28 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

They have to jam this building plus parking on a pretty small site, after all. So it is going to be pretty dense and uninviting. Plus they have to think about armoring it against domestic terrorists so that isn't going to help. You want wide open and inviting, you have to build it on all of the open space around SB Jr. High.

RHS Nov 18, 2020 06:09 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

The building is needed. It should be toned down from the bunker mentality that designed it. In this time of reform we need to continue the push to make the police more a part of the community, less isolated and more welcoming to the public. Most people who do business with the department are not arch villi ans and no one should be treated that way in the ordinary course of business. So, yes, the new space is needed but please make it a community valued asset.

a-1605817104 Nov 19, 2020 12:18 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Just three months ago, Seattle's East Precinct station officers were under attack. Rioters attempted to trap them in the station, while setting fires. This bunker design might serve a defensive purpose in future.

a-1605819103 Nov 19, 2020 12:51 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

That won't happen if our local police department actually listens to its citizens and stops racial profiling and egregious spending. How many Bearcats do they need for a small town by the ocean with minimal crime?

a-1605820069 Nov 19, 2020 01:07 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

How oppressive have the Seattle and Portland police departments really been to warrant their civil unrest?
Los Angeles will now have a "soft" county District Attorney and the mayor's cuts, have resulted in eliminating some special crime units. So we will soon see effects of defunding police.
Not really impressed by the so called "violence interrupter" solution or transformative justice tribunals.
Police officers often experience confrontations during traffic stops. Many stops are enforcing expired registrations; at the request of government to collect revenue. Perhaps reg fees should allow hardship waivers.....might result in fewer confrontations.

doulie Nov 20, 2020 05:05 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

A-19103. No doubt you can identify the cases of "racial profiling" to which you refer? What is the "egregious spending?" What has the PD purchased that you believe to be "egregious." If it's not a purchase, what money is being spent you consider "egregious?" As to the "Bearcats," how many does the PD have in their arsenal? Since you believe there is "minimal crime" in SB should police only carry sidearms?

3P14159 Nov 18, 2020 06:13 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Given the needs and limitations under which the architect was required to operate, it looks like a good design. If the nay-sayers don't feel that way, they should be more constructive about their reasons. Whining generalizations are not worth anyone's time.

a-1605818543 Nov 19, 2020 12:42 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Do you even know what socialism means? Before regurgitating jingoistic propaganda, you should maybe learn something. Social Security? Medicare? Unemployment assistance? What do you think those programs are?

a-1605805293 Nov 19, 2020 09:01 AM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Business as usual. Is the Black Lives Matter movement not teaching law enforcement or city councils anything? We need fewer police and the authoritarian tactics that police and all law enforcement exhibit. Therefore we need smaller police stations. Figueroa St. station should be remodeled.
The Quakers (American Friends Service), I and many others advocate for no more incarcerations. Jails of all sorts and the people employed exhibit the worst of human behavior. It has to STOP. Look to Norway for humane treatment of all people who break the law. The SB City Council and the Police Department have such obsolete and inhumane thinking. Let's change now so the Black Lives Matter movement stands for real justice. This building continues injustice at a massive scale. What a waste of taxpayer money and human potential. Society loses.

Roger Nov 19, 2020 09:58 AM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

I think it's a comment by one of the people who verbally tag teamed my ars on Facebook the other day and to that I say....Ha! The Old Police department born the same year as my old BOOMER Ars is outdated and not safe so a new police department needs to be built this looks fine as long as it's secure..."Doesn't look homey enough." that is funny.

sacjon Nov 19, 2020 11:46 AM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

9:01 - Not sure getting rid of incarceration is the answer. Norway has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world and no where near the amount of violent criminals as the US does. Some of these people NEED to be behind bars, away from society. They pose incredible danger to the public. For the non-violent, victimless criminals, it's a different story. But, to allow the violent criminals to be out in public is just absurd.

dukemunson Nov 19, 2020 12:15 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

Advocating for no more incarcerations makes no sense. You can advocate for less incarcerations, and/or less time behind bars for various crimes, but the statement that you "advocate for no more incarcerations" is just silly. But if you are going to be silly nonsensical at least have some creativity and humor... Vermin Supreme had the foresight to start wearing a boot on his head to aid his quest to give everyone in America a pony.

citizenSB Nov 19, 2020 03:11 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

While I am not a "defund the police" advocate, I do wonder why we have had such growth in police staff?
When the current police station was built in 1959 there were 85 police staff for a population of 58,000. Today we have a staff of 211 , 248% growth in staff, for a population of 92,000, 157% growth.

Santa Barbara did a comparison study in 2016 against 10 similar cities; Santa Maria, Oceanside, Ventura Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Carlsbad, Redondo Beach, Sunnyvale, Newport
The study compared the staff size against City of SB and the other cities. Compardly Santa Barbara is significantly over staffed. Santa Barbara 11.3 full time staff for 1,000 residents, compared to an average of 6.25 full time staff for 1,000 residents for the 10 cities.
Overall staff SB is 180% of average per 1,000 residents.
For police SB is 117% of the average per 1,000 residents.
For fire staff SB is 120% of average per 1,000 residents, and 25% below the after area to cover.
The condition of our roads is 19% below the average condition of the other cities while we have 20% less road miles to maintain.

The City of Santa Barbara has an efficiency problem that needs to be addressed.

sbsweetpea Nov 19, 2020 04:57 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

The city of S.B. has so many vacant buildings. I still think the city should consider purchasing a commercial site and refurbish it. I have always thought the old Sears building would be perfect for several reasons (the big drawback it the city's eyes is they don't own the land) It is a huge building, has ample parking (parking is always an issue downtown), easy on/off access to freeway, close to the jail and yes I know the city/police want a location close to the courthouse, but I think that they take more people to jail than to court. There is an existing auto repair shop on site; wouldn't that be convenient for vehicle maintenance? During construction it would not wreak havoc on city streets/traffic. Multiple entry points, no one-way entrances. The Sears building is already not attractive and there is so much architects could do to improvement it. Not in historical district. I think it is a safer location for the public and police overall. Someone mentioned the situations that occurred in Seattle, Portland, LA etc. If there is any future civil unrest wouldn't it be easier to defend a location NOT located in the busy downtown corridor? Also the Sears location would be easier to deal with during disasters such as fire/earthquake/flood etc. Close to Earl Warren where the county stages a lot of emergency services. How much would it cost to purchase that location and refurbish it? The price tag right now for the city to build the station ground up is 80 million and we all know how most projects never come in on TIME or on BUDGET. Look what happened with the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center and Bathhouse, estimated cost in 2015 12.1 million dollars, 2017 contract awarded for 16.7 million dollars. I can't find the actual cost on the city's website the link they provide does not work. Page not found. No webpage was found for the web address: https://civicaweb.santabarbaraca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=43443.
Didn't it end up costing around 20 million? So how much over will the police station come in? Like 100 million when it is all said and done? I think the price tag is way too expensive. I have never understood why the city is so stuck on this location other that the fact that they own SOME of the land. They would still have to lease part of the land from the State of California.

Voice of Reason Nov 19, 2020 05:05 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

It is more cost effective to level an old building and rebuild from the ground up than to try and upgrade/retrofit an old building to meet the onerous requirements of the Santa Barbara Building Department, which has some of the strictest building codes in the nation.

PitMix Nov 20, 2020 06:57 PM
Mixed Reviews of New Santa Barbara Police Station Design

VOR as long as you paint it adobe and slap some orange tiles on the roof, the ARB is okay with your design. Of more concern would be the seismic standards and if the old building meets the current standards. Plus does the police force need cubes with 20 ft ceilings.

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