Archive for the ‘Development projects’ Category

Construction Projects, Before and After

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I drive a ridiculous amount during the week. When the weekend comes, I really appreciate that I live in a town small enough that I can get around without driving. I also appreciate that William is the kind of kid who, when I ask if he wants to walk downtown for lunch, will answer, “Sure.”

I’ve taken a couple of walks with him lately that took us past some interesting building projects. One is the Lavender Court condos on Carpinteria Avenue. This project is the reason I’m on the planning commission, more or less. After I wrote a letter about Lavender Court on behalf of the Carpinteria Valley Association, Mike Ledbetter and the other city councilmembers gave me the chance to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, by appointing me to the commission.

One thing I mentioned in my CVA letter was the way the project blocks mountain views along Carpinteria Avenue. Here’s the artist’s rendering that was used in ads promoting Lavender Court. This same rendering was on display in the front row when the project’s developer came before the planning commission recently seeking changes in Lavender Court’s conditional use permit:


One point I made in my CVA letter is that the rendering is misleading, because it shows the tops of the Santa Ynez Mountains as being visible above the buildings. Here’s a shot I took on my walk with William the other day (you can see our shadows at the bottom):


See the mountains above the rooftops of the project? Um, right. You can’t.

You can view a few more shots that I took if you click through to the Flickr photostream. Looking at those shots, and at the artist’s rendering, I can see both sides of the issue. The rendering is accurate, in the sense that if you viewed that project from a little ways south of the street — which apparently is the viewpoint the rendering is using — you’d be able to see the mountains over the top of the buildings. But the reality is, the view that the public sees is more like the one in my photos, with the mountains hidden. In hindsight, I think the mountain views along Carpinteria Avenue — which the city’s general plan specifically calls for preserving — were harmed by Lavender Court.

I wasn’t on the planning commission when Lavender Court was approved. But even if I had been, I doubt I would have said anything about the mountain views. The rendering makes it look like a non-issue. Also, city staff argued at the time, and the planning commission and the city council agreed, that there would be no negative impacts, since views would be maintained through the driveways, and on either side of the buildings.

Live and learn.

On the way back home from a recent walk, William and I detoured to the salt marsh, which meant walking along Dorrance Way. We passed the site of a project that has come before the planning commission a few times during the past year; the owners had to go back and forth with the city a bit before getting approval to demolish an existing single-story bungalow and replace it with a two-story house.

As we passed the lot, I saw that the bungalow is gone. Here’s the picture I snapped through the chain link:


I’m looking forward to seeing what the finished house looks like.

One more piece of construction we came across during our walk was this new entrance to the salt marsh. It’s down near the north end of Ash Avenue, so people visiting the marsh from that side can enter without having to hop the fence, or having to walk farther down Ash toward the beach.