‘An unforgivable betrayal’: Carpinterians stand firm against proposed cliff development | News

Angry community members at a special town meeting on Wednesday night were adamant in their views on the big development in the area: The 99-room hotel and accommodation experience, proposed for the cliffside development, n are not welcome in Carpinteria.

The meeting, held jointly between Carpinteria City Council, the Architectural Review Board, and the Planning Commission, gave the project applicant – Carp Bluff, LLC – a chance to pitch the idea to the public ahead of the design process. formal examination.

Billed as a hotel experience, the 27.52-acre project is comprised of two 59-room lodges, 34 bungalows, six cottages, a 7-acre farm, a 16-unit labor housing apartment building, a restaurant, an event space and more. at 5669 and 5885 Carpinteria Ave., part of the Carpinteria Cliffs.

Developers have included in their proposal an option to expand workforce housing to 32 and 48 units, associate city planner Syndi Souter told the public on Wednesday. Parking will be available for public visitors, for apartments and for hotel visitors.

The plots are separated by railway lines. On the plot closest to the ocean, the developers want to realign the coastal path, placing it farther from the edge of the cliff.

Additionally, they want to establish a 20-foot-wide multi-use public trail, linked to existing trails near the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. They also propose to build a second gazebo for harbor seals.

Although many locals and visitors have frequently used the proposed development site as an access route to the seal colony, it is privately owned and was sold to private developer Matthew Goodwin and a few partners late in the year. ‘last year. Currently, the Tee Time Golf Course sits on part of the property.

The project’s lead planner, Laurel Fisher Perez, said Goodwin was committed to keeping 60% of the area open space. She spoke of the “unique” aspects of the property and said one of the developers’ priorities was to expand the network of public footpaths in the area.

“(This project) reflects important community values ​​and goals for this property,” she said. “Matthew has a sincere and determined respect for the land and embraces the responsibility that comes with stewarding this special property.”

Goodwin – speaking in front of a “Priceless Bluffs” sign held up by a member of the public – said he grew up in Ventura County and had a history in the hospitality industry. He highlighted his interest in keeping the area focused on nature and as an open space.

“I know it can be very quickly compared to other properties that have happened in the county, like the (Ritz-Carlton) Bacara, like the Miramar, and these are – without being brash – but pretty much the opposite of what we would try to predict for this property. (They are) the antithesis of hospitality and how we think about any type of property creation,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin told council he had already met with the Citizens of Carpinteria Cliffs, Seal Watch, the Carpinteria Valley Association, the South Coast Chamber of Commerce, several local businesses and other individual members of the community over the past two years to discuss project compatibility. with Carpinteria.

Carp Bluff, LLC is far from the first to attempt to develop bluffs, but as in previous years, Carpinterians stood firm on Wednesday, standing strong with their small town, anti-big development stance: Bluffs should not not – cannot – be developed.

Rarely has a good word for the project been seen among more than an hour of public comment; Mayor Wade Nomura repeatedly asked members of the public who were not on the microphone to keep the cheers and noise down.

“There are no buildings to build to improve it. It’s already improved,” said Ted Rhodes, on behalf of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs.

“Citizens of the Carpinteria Cliffs, our mission is always to save all the cliffs as open space. This is our mission. We are opposed to this project.

Rhodes asked members of the public to raise their hands if they thought the city should reject the proposal; the majority of the room met his response with cheers and hand gestures.

Public commentator Brenda Guzman, holding up a sign that reads “You are in homeland,” took issue with the proposed development, saying it should remain as is: non-profit.

“Tonight, not once – not once – (the devs) mentioned that we’re in homeland, that you’re developing in homeland,” Guzman said. “30 months (developers) have been in there – try 30,000 years, 3,000 years, 300 years our ancestors (Chumash) occupied this land, and now you want to develop it for profit.”

Other commentators – including a few who spoke with their children at their side – echoed similar anti-development comments, calling on the city to preserve the area for future generations.

Commentator Nathan Pratt called Carpinteria a “special place” and spoke out against the development.

“As other speakers have mentioned, you have a unique natural resource here. That’s why people want to live in Carpinteria,” Pratt said. “Having traveled the world, I can tell you that this town, Carpinteria, is the best beach town in the world to live in… Once you let it go, once it’s built, it’s gone. It’s gone forever.

“This (project) would be an unforgivable betrayal,” said commentator Bob Franco, urging the city to acquire the property. “Our planet is dying.”

The only public supporter of the project at Wednesday’s meeting, Drew Taylor, said he believes in the passion of the Carpinteria community and that Goodwin “stands true to his heart” for that same passion for nature.

While members of the City Council, Planning Commission and Architectural Review Committee were more muted in their comments – complimenting certain project designs – many agreed with concerns about compatibility and how the development fits into the general plan of the city. Of the three organizations, the hosting project will be presented for the first time to the architectural review committee at a future meeting.

“I would suggest that you spend a lot of time asking our community what they want and what they don’t want,” council member Roy Lee told Goodwin.

The city has dedicated a “hot topics” website to the project, which can be found at carpinteriaca.gov.

Michael J. Chiaramonte