La Entrada de Santa Barbara, a proposed $75 million condo time-share and retail store complex that would cover three blocks of lower State Street, won a victory in court Friday when Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle ruled that the complex would not obstruct mountain views.
The ruling defeated a lawsuit by the Citizens Planning Association & Foundation and the League of Women Voters to protest the project’s environmental impact report, which stated that the proposed structure would not affect the mountain view of surrounding businesses and residences. Anderle ruled May 10 that the EIR was correct.
The Santa Barbara City Council approved the development project, which was first proposed in 1991 by developer Bill Levy, in August 2001. The Citizens Planning Association & Foundation and the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit in 2000 demanding an EIR to determine the potential effects of the development.
When Anderle agreed and ordered the EIR, the Citizens Planning Association & Foundation and the League of Women Voters – who have been represented in court by the Environmental Defense Center – extended their lawsuit to protest the results of the EIR.
The Entrada will encompass three square blocks of lower State Street, beginning at the corner of State and Mason Streets. In order to accommodate the development, State Street would be narrowed from four lanes to two lanes, and many existing buildings would be either destroyed or converted.
The blocks on which the proposed project would be built currently accommodate a mix of tourist services, including bike and kayak rentals, the Californian Hotel, a parking lot, a coffee shop and retail stores. La Entrada would consist primarily of 56 time-share units.
EDC attorney Tanya Culesseaian said the decision reflected a need for stronger city ordinances.
“The current ordinances leave room for discretion so the city can approve large projects such as the Entrada,” she said. “The judge said the city has the discretion to approve these projects and it is the responsibility of the city to strengthen the ordinances.”
Culesseaian said there has been strong opposition to La Entrada because it will block views of the foothills and mountains, is out of scale with the waterfront area, and will convert 96 affordable hotel rooms into expensive time-share units.
Catherine McCammon of the Citizens Planning Association & Foundation said she is waiting for the advice of the EDC before appealing the decision.