GCC APPEAL of El Cap Canyon Resort expansion at planning commission Continued to 4-24-2024

By Ana Citrin

Your voice is needed to support GCC’s appeal of the El Capitan Canyon Resort expansion!

Emails to the Planning Commission should be sent to dvillalo@co.santa-barbara.ca.us by noon on Monday, April 22th. 


The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission will consider GCC’s appeal of the El Capitan Canyon Resort “Area F1-F2” Expansion Project on Wednesday, April 24th. This Project includes two development areas that are squarely within the Critical Viewshed Corridor Overlay (CVCO) that the Gaviota Coast Plan established to protect nearfield views of the mountains and ocean from Highway 101. The proposed Project includes 22 “RV Cabins”, 17 yurts, a 1,200 square-foot campground support building, an 1,800 square-foot camper services building, a 2,700 square-foot camper services barn, and a 592 square-foot comfort station, 2 swimming pools, new roadway infrastructure, and new night lighting. If built, the Project would represent the most significant visual change to the Gaviota Coast viewshed in decades.

The Area F1-F2 Expansion Project was partially approved back in 2010.  The Resort’s prior owner never completed the Central Board of Architectural Review process however, and the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) that issued in 2011 expired in 2013 by operation of the County’s Coastal Zoning Ordinance.  Now the Resort’s new owner, SUN Communities, Inc., has tried to resurrect this Project without applying for a new CDP.  This move would enable them to skirt compliance with the Gaviota Coast Plan, which took effect in 2018, including heightened protections applicable within the CVCO.

Project Plans, Area F1 https://cosantabarbara.app.box.com/s/q97rv82305oyfnbdjhcyxrrdhu3dgkqy/file/1450272788858

GCC’s appeal centers on the Central Board of Architectural Review (CBAR)’s preliminary approval of the Project, and raises the following issues:

• CBAR’s approval was flawed and incomplete for failing to include the 22 “RV Cabins” in its review process. These luxury accommodations remain fixed on the landscape and are for all intents and purposes “structures” that require CBAR review.
• There is no valid CDP underpinning CBAR’s approval. The CDP issued in 2011 expired under the clear terms of the County’s ordinance in 2013, and accordingly, a new CDP is required and must comply with the Gaviota Coast Plan.
• According to the Gaviota Coast Plan’s heightened protections within the CVCO, all “development” must be reviewed by CBAR under the Site Design Hierarchy and Design Guidelines that apply to this highly visible project.
• Allowing the Project to proceed with an expired permit, reviewed under pre-Gaviota Coast Plan standards, is contrary to the County’s ordinance and would undermine public trust in the planning process.

Project Plans, Area F2 https://cosantabarbara.app.box.com/s/q97rv82305oyfnbdjhcyxrrdhu3dgkqy/file/1450272788858

We encourage members of the public to submit comments via email and/or speak at the hearing in person or by Zoom. 

Materials for the hearing including the Staff Report and Project Plans are available here:  https://cosantabarbara.app.box.com/s/q97rv82305oyfnbdjhcyxrrdhu3dgkqy/folder/249980427735

The hearing will be held on Wednesday, April 24th at the County of Santa Barbara Engineering Building, Room 17 123 East Anapamu Street, in Santa Barbara.  To participate by Zoom, please register in advance for the webinar at: [website and agenda not yet available]  The hearing starts at 9AM but the agenda and the El Capitan item have not yet been set.

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