Is High-Density Housing Project Too Big for the Neighborhood?

By Nick Welsh : independent – excerpt

It was a long hot, afternoon for developer Greg Reitz as he doubled down on Santa Barbara’s love-it-or-hate-it experiment to create new rental housing in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. Reitz is proposing to raze most of the eight lots bounded by Anapamu, Garden, and Figueroa streets to build 52 apartments ​— ​with mechanically stacked underground parking ​— ​plus new office space. At last Thursday’s Santa Barbara City Planning Commission meeting, opponents outnumbered project supporters three to one. As political theatrics, it was an exuberant defense of the existing neighborhood, a collection of old wooden apartment buildings, charming bungalows, a couple of Queen Annes, and some utilitarian offices…

In denouncing Reitz’s plans, words like “monstrosity,” “ludicrous,” and “unfathomable” were tossed about…People are passionate about what it means to live in Santa Barbara,” he said. “I’ve heard it before.” Reitz was referring to the seven hearings his project has received before the Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) over the past 18 months. Members of the HLC don’t much care for Reitz’s project either… Fellow HLC member Steve Hausz accused Reitz of “swinging for the fences” by seeking the very maximum allowable density possible under the city’s controversial bonus density plan, known colloquially as Average Unit-Size Density or AUD: 63 units per acre. That’s nearly twice what could otherwise be allowed. Hausz noted that Reitz was seeking the maximum possible height of 45 feet…

Reitz preached the gospel of sustainability. His project’s residents wouldn’t need a car at all, he explained; they could take a bus to do their shopping at Ralphs… (more)

Looks like the dense housing is not very popular in Santa Barbara. Some communities are just not interested in changing. Some residents are living the life they choose and protecting it is high on their list of priorities.



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