New Development Proposed for Entire Funk Zone Block

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.]

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

Tree Fire at Santa Barbara Cemetery

Structure Fire Response on Foxen Canyon Road