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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Sensibly Common Jul 30, 2020 01:05 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Caernal is an excellent architect. Don’t forget that he works for someone (the developer), and if Caernal doesn’t stuff as much density into the design that the developer wants, he probably gets fired. Tough predicament.

Eggs Ackley Jul 31, 2020 04:51 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Aye matey the code be merely guidelines. Architects hate rules because it forces them to say NO to their clients. And there’s the bonuses they get for achieving square foot thresholds. I see parallels between systemic racism in America and systemic developmentalism in Santa Barbara. It’s so ingrained that most people just accept it as “the way we’ve always done it”. The planners and politician slap one another on the backs and say “job well done. We listened to the arts community and the housing advocates. “
Meanwhile a developer is seeking special dispensation for a project that for most citizens will be of little to no long term benefit to the quality of life and will have demonstrable ill effects. The parking alone is a disaster and a fatal flaw.

liberty Jul 30, 2020 10:55 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

This monstrosity does not fit Santa Barbara's laid back style at all. It looks like a San Francisco nightmare. I don't know why this Cernal guy + these developers wants to turn Santa Barbara in San Francisco. Doesn't he know that all of the techies up there are fleeing that city in droves? They hate these kind of buildings and that lifestyle.

Yes this project will make the architects, the developers, and their lawyers really wealthy. And they will give us all kinds of reasons for why we need this project, how talk down to us as if we are not thinking on their futuristic level. But they are the ones who are wrong. They are in it for the money only. They will convince themselves first, before ramming it down our throats and changing this town forever. Say no to these people.

Santa Barbara has a laid back, smaller-building, Spanish style, beach town style. It's why people like it here.

a-1596137091 Jul 30, 2020 12:24 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

And isn't it strange, I was going to write "funny" but it's not funny, how there has been a lot of publicity about how increased density has led to COVID-19 infections! Yet Santa Barbara and most of its planning and design commissions PLUS the Murillo-led city council (and she is directly responsible for the elections of the two Gutierrezes) are hell-bent for increased density and charmless developments!

SantaBarbaraObserver Jul 30, 2020 11:03 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

This is good. If SB wants to survive the next 10years, we will need to revitalize that area and build for the future we need. While there is arguably some charm to dilapidation, its not very good for what we truly need most. Businesses, professionals and their incomes, market rate property tax revenue and of course, tourism. Not too mention that entire zone is chock full of bums and layabouts so the faster we clear out the old shacks, rusting shipping containers and mishmash of what-evers, the faster they'll move along to some other haven...

SBLetsGetAlong Aug 01, 2020 09:36 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

What about revitalizing State St?
Why do you think the homeless won’t be an issue? They’re already throughout the area, State Street and the new condo complexes around State St all the way up to the Arlington.

Britinsb Jul 30, 2020 11:05 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

That parcel is definitely ripe for redevelopment, and the mixed-use is a good step, but the design sucks - looks totally out of character for Santa Barbara or the Funk Zone. I almost wonder if this is deliberate, so the ABR can reject it a couple times and feel they did their job before eventually approving something much more in character.

a-1596133217 Jul 30, 2020 11:20 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

To the naysayers: Please speak up at City Council and ABR meetings (even though they are in Cearnal's pocket). He will put you in your place, but do it anyway. It's the only way you might have any influence. Edhat comments are interesting but don't effect change.

Always_Running Jul 30, 2020 11:43 AM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

More overpriced apartments your average working class won’t be able to afford. How can you put parking for half your units and have stacked parking for commercial use. Your going to put an entire block out of business and the surrounding neighbors will have no parking because the construction crew will park at 7am. Who want to enjoy wine and saw dust at the same time.

a-1596155827 Jul 30, 2020 05:37 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Tall buildings block the views for everyone. Doesn't matter if no one goes to the Funk Zone. Once the views are gone, they are gone. City was smart enough a hundred years ago to say one and done and no more 8 story when the Granada Building went up. No walls of tall buildings and view canyons. Funk zone over-building that block the sweep of the sea to mountain views is totally unacceptable.

SDP Jul 30, 2020 12:04 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Didn’t the last proposal Dipaola have sailboats one the rooftops? I wish they would let the Funk Zone remain funky and just infill the empty lots and not demolish perfectly good historic funky structures.

Bird Jul 30, 2020 12:28 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

But sea level rise is and will be an issue! ...And will the public, the rest of Santa Barbara, be responsible to protect this massive ugliness from encroaching salt water?

PitMix Jul 30, 2020 12:57 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Each new coastal project is required to have the finished floor elevation above the projected sea level rise occurring 70 years from now. So the project should be the only thing built to reasonable standards in this area.

Minibeast Jul 30, 2020 08:33 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

M-CUBED. I don't know about the pint, but to borrow a line from Jack Irish, you'll def be able to get a coffee with beans "handpicked by free-range organic Peruvians."

a-1596159867 Jul 30, 2020 06:44 PM
New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

Unfortunately, there are three new planning commissioners who were tutored by former planning commissioner (and developer) John Campanella; one of these commissioners is a developer and he recused himself from this decision. Few there, except for Lodge have a deep love for Santa Barbara, its history and architecture.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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