A Battle Over Building Heights

In anti-growth Santa Barbara, preservationists and smart growth advocates have forged a compromise that will permit taller buildings for developments that include affordable housing.

"A group that has been passing around a petition to limit building heights in Santa Barbara stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the steps of City Hall with their nemesis, the "smart-growth" crowd who preach the gospel of building up-not out-to avoid sprawl. The occasion, on Thursday afternoon, April 24, was to announce that the two camps have laid the groundwork for a possible "treaty of El Pueblo Viejo." The fight over heights, sparked by recent developments on Chapala Street, drove a wedge between former allies in urban design battles of the past. However, it appeared to be over as both sides praised the compromise they have crafted during the past couple of months. The new coalition is hoping that the City Council will adopt their compromise as an ordinance."

"It would create a 40-foot height limit in all commercial zones that allow residential uses, with one major exception. Projects that include at least 30 percent affordable housing-up to 200 percent of the median income-would be rewarded with an additional 12 feet of height."

Full Story: Ceasefire in Downtown Height Fight

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