Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

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By Natasha Todorovic

Join your neighbors as they speak to City Council on March 26, beginning about 2:00 pm. This is when an appeal to stop the 4-story, 8 lot modern complex proposed for 711 N. Milpas St. The Architectural Board of Review said "no" and the developer is appealing the decision. 

There are many reasons this is wrong for our neighborhood including public safety, the compromised process that allowed this flawed project to come this far, the size of this project which will set precedence for others of this scale, the willingness to give away city streets to a for profit developer, reduction of parking, gentrification, and more. 

Public Notice can be found here. We don't yet know the exact time and the agenda for this hearing. You will be able to locate it here on Thursday, March 21.

It will tell you roughly what time it will start. You can plan for at least 2-3 hours as there will be a staff presentation (20 min), questions by City Council, the first appellant's presentation (20 min), questions by City Council, and the second appellant's presentation (20 min) + questions by City Council. This will be followed by public comments where you are encouraged to speak. You don't have to speak and you can make your opinions known by giving your time to a speaker who can represent your position. Please attend. That shows you care. 

Please do not use this as the forum to learn about the issue - it is too late when it comes this far. I am against the project and would like the City to uphold the Architectural Board of Review's decision.


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VinSB Mar 22, 2019 01:50 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

The March 26 City Council meeting agenda is now available. Click in the article above or cut/paste this in your search bar: (then click on Item #15) https://records.santabarbaraca.gov/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=448&doctype=1&accessible=true

VinSB Mar 22, 2019 01:41 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

The project referenced here will offer high rent housing, mostly for professionals NOT planning to stay here permanently (who would pay $3-4K a month while trying to buy?) or wealthy out-of-towners seeking a Santa Barbara vacation home. There is no allocation for affordable or moderately priced units. Please read the City Council meeting agenda, including written public comments before commenting further (I'll attach a link to cut & paste in your search bar): https://records.santabarbaraca.gov/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Documents/ViewDocument/Attachment%2011%20-%20GENERAL.pdf?meetingId=448&documentType=Agenda&itemId=13826&publishId=9305&isSection=false

VinSB Mar 22, 2019 01:46 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

The AUD program hasn't exactly done what it was meant to do. See the rents typical of these developments (chart near bottom of article). This proposed development has no plans to include affordable or moderate units in the mix. https://www.noozhawk.com/article/planning_commission_inclusionary_housing_santa_barbara_aud_20190310

a-1563662701 Mar 22, 2019 02:10 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

The AUD program has exactly done what it was meant to do - line the pockets of the City Council campaign contributors / developers / city unions. Everything else was/is window dressing.

a-1563662701 Mar 21, 2019 03:25 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

There is actually a solution to this. Do what they do in Asia - limit the number of kids people can have. Anyone complaining about this development on here, who has more than 2 kids, should have no say and should seriously look at their own glass house, putting more and more people in the world who need this type of housing. If you aren't willing to curb your procreating selves, then don't complain about this.

PitMix Mar 20, 2019 09:51 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Let's face it, SB is going to have to densify and build taller if we want to provide housing without covering every available open space. And because our numbers are growing, including my family, it is seems naive to say that we can just stop building entirely. My only problem with the planning process is the lack of parking- to assume that people will not own cars with our current poor public transportation system is either ignorant or deliberately deceptive.

PitMix Mar 22, 2019 09:43 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Defacto, again, making a lot of assumptions so you can discount my comments. Pretty common strategy. By the way, you are wrong in every assumption about my family and what I meant by that.

Factotum Mar 20, 2019 10:20 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Your "family" does not deserve handout housing. If they can afford the available inventory of housing fine, but just raising children in this town does not buy them a free ticket to more density for the rest of us.

RHS Mar 20, 2019 08:56 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Please do not continue to object to this sort of thing without objecting to the growth in population. This means object to the lack of family planning, tax laws that encourage children and immigration laws that facilitate such growth too.

PitMix Mar 22, 2019 09:40 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Mar 21, 2019 01:48 PM, the stories I read say that care of the elderly in those countries is becoming a huge problem. It seems like you are talking about the way that things used to be. They showed a lot of elderly people being affected by the Fukushima disaster in Japan. And the rural elderly in China do not have social security or adequate medical care and are suffering.

a-1563662701 Mar 21, 2019 01:48 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

PITMIX who says? Japan and China are actually doing fine. Their society values care of the elderly. Just because you have 5 kids doesn't mean any one of them will care for you as you age. In Japan, and China for that matter, the kids (usually split between 2) take care of their parents. Once the current elderly population passes on, what will be left is a much lower population than in times past b/c of the child restrictions - and more money, services, etc. for that generation due to lower population drain. That is the idea behind it. It's working.

PitMix Mar 20, 2019 01:11 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Capitalism is a system that needs growth to survive. Check out how Japan has been doing for the last 30 years if you want to see the effects of no growth and no immigration. An aging population with no one to care for them. Be careful what you ask for, you might even get it.

a-1563662701 Mar 20, 2019 08:25 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

AUDs have a range of densities to fit the lot configuration such as 37 to 63 units per acre. The AUD buildings also have to meet ordinances and guidelines such as minimum set backs, maximum height, natural light per unit, neighborhood compatibility, on site parking per unit, etc. . The 711 Milpas developer tried to get the maximum development not the doable per his acreage and ordinances. He has encroached into set backs. His building is too high. There are so many units this required on site parking can be met. His building is sterile with no Spanish style fringe on a flat roof in sight. He had the audacity to request taxpayers give up their public street, which by the way is an emergency exit of SB Jr. Hi., for his development's parking, taking away a pedestrian sidewalk, endangering bicyclists, making turning for large delivery trucks for other businesses nearly impossible, all the while increasing the human density on this corner where 15 year old Sergio Romero was killed in 2011. Developers who greedily flaunt all guidelines can expect to have a public outcry and a delay in their project's planning process. You don't have to like or dislike the developer or architect be s/he local or out of town. Rules matter.

sbbeachguy Mar 20, 2019 07:04 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Tell your state legislators to reverse the policy that requires every city and county to build housing beyond the carrying capacity for our infrastructure - water, public safety, etc. The state will fine and/or withhold funds for not complying with this policy.

letmego Mar 20, 2019 10:00 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

This is the most intelligent comment of the bunch. Everyone can complain that they want SB to stay "the same" (it can't) or they want it "to grow so I can afford to live here" (prob not happening either). Population growth, unfortunately, necessitates change. It's up to us to figure out how to make it happen in the least painful way possible. If we can't work together, well then you get what you get.

Roger Mar 19, 2019 09:15 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Where the hell were some of you when Paseo Nuevo was built? Yeah your alittle late all right....We should all be working together not against. If one thing doesn't work agree to another we all basically want the same thing.

a-1563662701 Mar 19, 2019 08:31 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Some of these comments are ridiculous and immature. "Newbies"? So, the only people allowed to live in a town are people who were born/raised there ? I know some SB locals who are for the development or at least aren't crazed. I personally don't like it, it's too sterile looking and no character but all of SB is Disneyland for the most part at this point. This is just what happens. You can't freeze time. Being so resentful is also unhealthy. If it really bothers you that much there are other places in the US to live that have the same character that SB used to have.

Factotum Mar 20, 2019 10:25 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Housing belongs to those who can afford it, at market rates. Consequently, all housing is affordable and the market will continue to determine what is affordable. When there are no buyers, prices will drop. When their are willing buyers, the prices will rise. This is quite simple. And fair. What is not fair is the government demanding some people must subsidize others, and getting nothing in return.

SantaBarbaraObserver Mar 20, 2019 08:54 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Reminds me of that old joke: How do you tell someone is an SB local? Don'd worry, they'll tell you...Ba dum bump! I've lived here off and on for 25 years. By far the least friendly, least driven people I've met are so-called multigenerational locals. It's like they suffer from some sort of attitude affliction where they think they're 'special' and due special treatment because great grandpa lived here in 1925. If I didn't know better I'd say they're all from the same genetic family and suffer from some sort of in-breeding. Nah, they're just living the results of a life where they sacrificed their future so they could live in SB, in grandma's old house that she bought in 1955 for 25k. Granted it's not as bad as the locals in Hawaii, but its pretty close.

mesawino1 Mar 19, 2019 08:11 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Am I too late? Okay, I’m not from here, I’m from L.A. and love Santa Barbara. Pearl Chase and other citizens protected Santa Barbara from developers. Shoreline park, Chase palm park, Wilcox property, other open spaces are there because of their foresight. The preservation of the “old town” Santa Barbara, the presidio and De La Guerra plaza and the adobes make Santa Barbara unique. Check out the development in Goleta.. want that? Santa Barbara is special because of the people and the architecture and the public spaces, not because of state street or a development on milpas. locals are not the problem, people trying to make money off “Santa Barbara” while destroying it at the same time.

a-1563662701 Mar 19, 2019 07:41 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Dudes, Milpas looks so rundown and the architecture there is....eclectic? This would provide a nice facelift, give the area a bunch of eyes-on late at night, when stuff goes down. There are already 4 story buildings here, and the World Did Not End. Get over yourselves. That could be a cool neighborhood except for whiners like these who just want it to stay like 1960 and keep everyone out.

Roger Mar 20, 2019 12:09 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

What about the proposed 3 Story buildings on the South End of Milpas do you have anything to say about those or are you just angry at the guy for turning you down?

aragorn Mar 20, 2019 11:49 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

1. There are no 4 story buildings anywhere on Milpas St., only 2 stories. 2. Yes I am local, born (in 1956) and grew up over in the Milpas St. area in 1961, 1962 when my mom and I moved there from Montecito. This 3 1/2 to 4 stories AUD is not compatible to the Milpas area with the proposed architectural design. it is too massive in bulk, size, and height. Needs to be scaled down to 2 stories and the architectural design should be that of Spanish/Mediterranean/Pueblo style. 3. The owner will rent a 1 bedroom around $2,500 or more per month. AUD's are not affordable. 4. I know the owner, and last year I ran into him on south Milpas while I was waiting for the bus, and I asked him since I am on low income with my monthly Social Security and I am on Section 8 for low income rent, would he be willing to rent me a unit and many others like myself, his answer to me very sarcastically he said, "No! I will never do that. Well, maybe someday". There are many low income working families that reside over in the Milpas area, and just no way they can afford to rent in any AUD units. Especially if they have families. 5. Does Milpas need a nice facelift? Sure it does, but keep and preserve the old Spanish historical charm.

a-1563662701 Mar 19, 2019 07:21 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Build, build, build. Build sky-high. What the hell? Who cares anymore? Let the "It's better than where I came from" faction take over Santa Barbara and make it into just where they came from-----filthy air, ugly, overcrowded. Who needs old time charm and a place for the little guy? Build away, you developer jerks. You have the blessing of all the newbies.

A Real Local Mar 19, 2019 06:40 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

To get the approved modifications Staff and RRM Design pulled the wool over the Staff Hearing Officer's eyes. Susan Reardon couldn't grant the modifications to basically turn East Ortega Street into a parking lot if the project reduced parking. Staff approved a 40 foot commercial loading zone right out in front on North Milpas because the project didn't want to provide one for its own use. The City then moved the parking places on East Ortega. So, when kids make a right off of North Milpas on their bicycles to go to schoo thel vehicles will back right up into the path of the bicycles. The City also took away a sidewalk that goes to the school. All of this for a for-profit development who also got increased density with the AUD. wasn't that increase density enough? Why did they have to get all of these government giveaways? How many units did the owner get? Over 20! Will they be affordable? That would be a Big no! Did the City get 1 affordable unit for all of this PORK? Did the City get impact fees? Do you think Washington DC is swampy? DC has nothing on our swamp!

a-1563662701 Mar 19, 2019 03:39 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Oh the histrionics are out again against change and development... for profit no less - the HORROR!! Was it only a few years ago when the sky was going to come falling because a 4 story development on State Street/La Cumbre was going to change the city and neighbourhood as we knew it? Only to be built and do none of the horrors the fear mongers and NYMBYs foretold. I'm tired of the Chicken Littles.

420722 Mar 19, 2019 07:56 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Actually, it was great before newbies came which why you were obviously drawn here. DUH!!!! We’re not making this stuff up. Sb used to have much more than traffic, angry drivers, over priced restaurants, tech companies, 300 breweries/wineries that sell drinks that all taste the same (good beer but all the same). Those days are gone I get it, but it’s sucks because of the newbies not the people that made this town so desirable to you.

420722 Mar 19, 2019 05:42 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Then leave, move to a large city...we ( born here locals) like Santa Barbara the small community not the one modeled to look like sf and my. Please go away if you think 4 story buildings are needed or wanted here thank you!

a-1563662701 Mar 19, 2019 04:38 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Maybe you're not horrified, but as a resident of San Roque, upper State is absolutely changed in those areas. Is it the end of the world? Nope. Is it a damn shame? Big yup. It's a slippery slope that gets more slippery with each big build. Ever read Tipping Point? Once we hit it, there's no going back. So sure, as you say, "none of the horrors foretold" exist at the moment - come back in a decade. As with most things, it all adds up.

SantaBarbaraObserver Mar 19, 2019 03:18 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Gentrification is listed as one of their objections to the building? Goodness. Let the building rise let the neighborhood evolve. The street needs a makeover, it is not attractive in the least. Everything we build today is better than 1960-70's built places that line the street. I've always been puzzled by Milpas St. Whether the check cashing line out the door at the liquor stores on Fridays, the travel agents who also do your taxes and can send your money back home while helping you obtain car insurance and buy a new quinceañera dress... Milpas seems to be an affront to the expensive and tightly honed marketing image that SB proudly touts - you know, the 'American Riviera'... Personally I'd like to see more modernization and development on Milpas. The street and its buildings should be improved and this project is a great step in that direction.

mesawino1 Mar 19, 2019 08:43 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

SB observer, don’t be puzzled by Milpas. It's business model is working while the one on State street is not. Calle Milpas is the heart of the city to many residents, it’s not about “looks” to an uptight person who only travels Milpas to go to the Trader Joe’s.

a-1563662701 Mar 19, 2019 02:30 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

Agree 100% with Roger. The neighbors against this project have engaged in witch-hunting tactics that are astonishingly vindictive and personal. The ABR is actually the real problem here, though. As a city, you can't tell someone 'go ahead and develop a project that fits with our ordinance', approve their preliminary design, let them get years into the process and spend big $, and then decide not to approve the same design they approved 3 years earlier. The ABR fell for the witch-hunters' fearmongering, and reversed themselves, finally breaking the city's choked, mangled, and overly cumbersome development process . And citizens wonder why no businesses can get through the planning process to open on state, or why no new housing gets built here. The developer should sue the city, the activists and ABR members that were derelict in their duty.

a-1563662701 Mar 20, 2019 08:23 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

I wish they had. I had the opportunity to watch this project, as I also have a project going through ABR. I saw the chair turn to the other commissioners at times and say, 'we can't ask the applicant to now add in something we told them to take out in the last meeting.' She was clearly frustrated that the ABR was misguiding the project, and changing the design each time, and then rejecting the changes they asked for at the next hearing. That kind of thing opens a city to litigation, and a judge would have no trouble finding the city itself was the problem in the development process. I'll be curious to see where this goes. For all the 'out of town greedy developer' set, this is a locally-owned business that's been on Milpas 50+ years, and they're creating housing where none exists today. Don't know if you've been watching, but the rents in this town for lousy units on the Eastside have gone astronomical. We need housing, people.

Roger Mar 20, 2019 07:37 AM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

I doubt it when someone is not liked in this town they get shot down every time it's just like any other place there will be other buildings developers that are accepted. I never considered this man big money, Big Heart is more like it. I don't agree with him on some things but he has a bigger heart than many others in this town that are selfish and full of greed.

a-1563662701 Mar 19, 2019 08:46 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

The ABR is doing its job protecting the city for the citizens, not selling out to big money developers like they have in the past. Bravo ABR!

Roger Mar 19, 2019 01:48 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

The developer should appeal the decision this project has become political all these people that are getting up and saying this project is wrong for the neighborhood is doing so for reasons other than what they are saying. They don't like the guy he has been a businessman in this community for many years and has done alot of good for Santa Barbara but that is not good enough for some people. When the good is pushed out the bad comes in maybe that is why things are the way they are now.

a-1563662701 Mar 20, 2019 01:29 PM
Reviewing Oversized Building Proposed on Milpas

It has nothing to do with disliking Alan Bleeker, the owner of Capitol Hardware that will be demolished for the 74 market rental unit, 4-story building. When he was involved with the Milpas Community Association, indeed, he did good things and worked hard, with the E.D., Sharon Byrne, for an East Business Improvement District. (That was shot down by (some) business owners and our present mayor.) Part of the arguments against that EBID were that it would be a step towards gentrification. This proposed building WILL BE gentrification - and the housing will not be for lower incomed people. As usual with AUD developments, there will be limited parking (1/unit) so there will be increased on street parking by residents, affecting other businesses in that area. It's a dangerous area for students going to Santa Barbara Jr. High via Ortega Street. This would be a welcomed development if it were two-stories, replacing the one-story hardware store, and also if it were aimed for area workers instead of whatever the market will bring and were more in tune, architecturally with the city's area architectural guidelines.

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