Op-Ed: Carpinteria Community Rejects Bluffs Resort Proposal at ARB Hearing

Crowd that spilled out of the Carpinteria city council chambers during the Architectural Review Hearing on January 25, 2024 retarding the Carpinteria Bluffs project (courtesy photo)

By Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs

Architectural Review Board Votes to Continue Ruling and Give Developer a Chance to Bring the Proposal in Line with City Rules

Following a standing-room-only hearing with hundreds of community members spilling out from the Carpinteria City Council Chambers, the City of Carpinteria Architectural Review Board voted not to recommend advancing a development proposal to build a massive luxury resort on the Carpinteria Bluffs. ARB members continued the decision in order to allow the developer to come into compliance with the city’s General Plan and propose a project that is much smaller in its footprint and intensity, protects valuable view sheds and considers other impacts like those on Chumash cultural heritage and the protected Harbor Seal Rookery.

Brad Stein, Chairman of the ARB, stated that the project would require “a whole lot of reduction and a whole lot of change” in order to meet city requirements. An estimated 500-plus people attended the hearing to protest the development of a luxury resort that would use the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve as a selling point and guest amenity. The marathon meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and didn’t finish until 50-plus concerned residents delivered nearly 4 hours of comments against development.

“The community showed up and left little doubt about its appetite for a luxury resort on the Carpinteria Bluffs,” said Patrick Crooks, President of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs. “From the 47,000 cubic feet of earth removal proposed, to the lost views and incompatibility with the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, it’s clear that this intense project is the opposite of the guidance provided by the City of Carpinteria General Plan.”

The developer of the 99-room hotel, spa, events center, restaurant and apartments stated that the project was “community-driven” but found almost no support from community members for the project. Rather, dozens of people condemned the proposal as an exploitation of the past several decades of work in the community to prevent this exact type of development. Several speakers argued that the General Plan and Local Coastal Plan approved for Carpinteria specifically ruled out development such as the proposed “Carpinteria Farm Bungalow Experience,” which could benefit the out-of-town developer and investors but offers little benefit and much harm to the community.

ARB members gave many recommendations for the proposal that would help it better fit the community’s vision for the 27.5-acre property that borders the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and Carpinteria Skate Park and spans from the protected Harbor Seal Rookery to Carpinteria Avenue.

The meeting of the City of Carpinteria Architectural Review Board marked the first time that the proposed 99-room Bluffs Resort development came under public review, and commenters overwhelmingly stood against the project.


The proposed development includes 56 buildings totaling 178,000 square feet. The resort includes two large hotel lodges (59 keys), 40 bungalows, a restaurant, spa, two pools, and an events center. Also proposed are 41 apartment units mixed between 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms.


Chairperson Brad Stein —

“Right now, emphatically, where I’m sitting, I would never support this.”

“Issue number one from me is that this project is not compatible with that neighborhood.”

Views: “Anything along the ridgeline needs to be changed. Whatever buildings are there, make them smaller.”

“For events, you’re going to have parking all over that area for your project, and I really have a problem with that. I know that if you were sincere about being part of the city and what we want, the parking would be part of that.”

Stein is a retired train engineer: “The railroad crossing is really opening yourself up to liability. … You’re just promoting someone getting hit.”

Vice-Chairperson Amy Blakemore —

“Just because a plan is less terrible than a previous plan doesn’t make it not a terrible plan.”

“It just seems like a lot of things haven’t been thought through logistically.

“I cannot support a project that has 47,000 cubic yards of grading.”

Commissioner Patrick O’Connor —

“To me this is an incomplete proposal.”

“The seals and Chumash are not addressed at all in the developer’s proposal.”

“What is the plan for the southern 4.13 acres? That’s not included.”

Commissioner Richard Little —

“All structures seem to be overbuilt.”

“The bigger question seems to be, why here and why now?”

“I’ve never before seen affordable housing with 10-foot ceilings.”


Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs was founded in 1996 as a nonprofit grassroots community organization to preserve forever the Carpinteria Bluffs as open space. The organization uses educational and promotional activities to raise public knowledge and appreciation of the Bluffs and its natural features. Its aim is to ensure that the Bluffs remain an area for active and passive recreation. The group was integral to preserving the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and Viola Fields in 1998 and the Rincon Bluffs Preserve in 2018.

Op-Ed’s are written by community members, not representatives of edhat. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the author’s.
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