The Santa Barbara Airport Commission held a kick-off workshop Wednesday afternoon to discuss the proposal for a $55 million expansion and renovation project of the small terminal, located at 500 Fowler Rd., in Goleta.

Over 50 people – including members of the Santa Barbara City Council, the Airport Commission, the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review, the Historical Landmarks Commission and the County Planning Commission – attended the planning meeting, which was held at the Airport Visitors’ Center. Attendees viewed a presentation on the development of the building and discussed potential areas for improvement, such as the addition of a second story, more public transit-friendly access and the possibility of literally raising and moving the structure from its current location. Pat Saley, a land use consultant for the county, led the meeting.

In the past, Saley said, heavy rains have led to airport flooding and the building has sunk two feet since it was converted to an airport in 1936. Saley said the current terminal needs to be raised two feet and moved 65 feet to prevent further structural damage.

Santa Barbara City Councilman Brian Barnwell, following a tour of the terminal, said he was unaware the building was in need of so much repair.

“I’m flabbergasted at how the building is falling apart,” Barnwell said.

In addition to building repairs, workshop participants also discussed plans to expand the terminal to accommodate more people. Otto Randolf, vice president of URS Corporation – a company that offers consultation on civic infrastructure development – said he thinks the airport is overcrowded in comparison to other airports of a similar size.

“It is so crowded now, we are bursting at the seams,” Randolf said. “People are forced to stand outside.”

Randolf said he thinks adding a second story to the terminal as well as loading bridges from the terminal to the planes could help alleviate this problem and provide better safety and disability access for travelers.

To undertake such construction, Randolf said the Airport Commission would need to construct a temporary terminal in the long-term parking area. The airport would have to add more shuttles to compensate for the loss in parking space.

Nabil Jammal, URS Corporation airport consultant, said the remodeling would make the airport more accessible to public transportation. He said the airport bus stop is currently too far away from the terminal and the committee should consider making a bus lane to the building as well as a bus loading area.

Saley said the Airport Commission’s goal is to make these changes without damaging the aesthetic value of the building, which is built in Spanish architectural style.

“We want to create a place that inspires [people],” Saley said. “This is a gateway to the community and the region.”

Randolf said he estimates the Airport Commission will spend the next two years creating designs for the terminal and working out the logistical aspects of the construction. The committee hopes to choose an architect for the remodeling by the end of this year.

“For the next couple of months we’re working on making recommendations,” Randolf said.

Airport Director Karen Ramsdell said she thinks Randolf’s timeline may have been too ambitious and the airport is actually three or four years away from beginning construction.