Grow UP, Santa Barbara

Thank you, Nick Welsh, for your insightful article "Why Won’t Santa Barbara City Council Progressives Fix Broken Housing Plan?" (Although "Broken" kinda implies that it used to work properly.)

Anyone who attended the Planning Commission meetings on this AUD proposal witnessed the commission listening politely to we neighbors’ many legitimate objections to the plan, then ignoring all of them, to finally bestow their blessing on the project (with only two concerned nays). Shame on you, Planning Commission: You should have sent Greg Reitz back to the drawing board.

At the risk of alienating all of my neighbors, however, I do need to support one of Mr. Reitz’ points: He should have been allowed to design another story onto his proposed AUD. Here is my reasoning:

We SantaBarbarians find ourselves in the unpleasant dilemma of having to choose between density and sprawl. We have no way to limit our population growth, so we have to choose. Clearly, density is the least of the two evils. However, it means that we have to relinquish some beloved treasures — in this case, our beautiful mountain views. Something has to give when population growth presses too hard. Mr. Reitz told the commission that he could provide more affordable units in his design if he were allowed to add another story to it. The commission nixed that suggestion without proper consideration, in my opinion.

I hope that, in future hearings regarding AUD proposals, the commission and the council will impose the following two density concessions:

Demand that the developers build down more to provide adequate secure parking, not only for the building’s tenants, but also — by way of mitigation — for neighbors willing to pay reasonable rent to store their vehicles securely off the street.

Allow the developers to build up a single story beyond the city’s 40-foot limit, to accommodate more affordable housing into the building.