Naples Coastal Cow, photo by Reeve Woolpert
Applications have been submitted for the construction of two 7,500 square foot houses, replete with 800 square foot guest houses, 2,500 square foot barns and swimming pools, on two lots on the coastal portion of Naples (aka Santa Barbara Ranch).
The County Planning and Development Department has deemed the applications to be incomplete, but the applicant’s representatives appeared at the SB County Central Board of Architectural Review (CBAR) on Friday August 12, 2016 in Solvang for a “conceptual review” of the project.
Representatives of the Naples Coalition and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy were also there.
We objected to the development on the grounds that it induces growth, is incompatible with the rural character of the Gaviota Coast, and cannot even be considered without a full environmental impact report due to the sensitive nature of the property and the massive nature of the buildings. The CBAR must find that a proposed project shall be “compatible with the character of the surrounding natural environment”. The proposed development flunks this simple and clear test.
To approve a project, the CBAR must also find that structures “shall be sited so as not to intrude into the skyline as seen from public viewing places". The applicant claims they meet this test, due to the screening of the eucalyptus hedgerows planted along Highway 101 and the railroad corridor. However, the CBAR agreed with our position that vegetative screening is not durable and cannot be relied upon for such a purpose, flunking another simple and clear test.
While the following planning issues are not under the purview of the CBAR, they did recognize the substantial number of issues that must be resolved before the architectural character of this project can be considered. The difficulty of providing safe passage over (or under) the railroad tracks was not addressed. Water supply and delivery is assumed, but we question the assumptions. Human waste disposal or residential water runoff near the ocean bluffs could imperil the ocean water quality of the Naples Reef. Transfer of development rights is mandated where feasible by Coastal Land Use Policy 2-13. Numerous legal issues surrounding the earlier EIR and entitlements remain unresolved. And a host of additional “changed circumstances” since the partial approval of the 2008 development in the Naples antiquated subdivision, least of which is the drought, create difficult, if not impossible, barriers to development.
The CBAR held this one hearing on the conceptual review of Dr. Ma’s project, and members felt they would not likely hold another until most of the above issues are resolved. We are of the opinion they may never hold another hearing.
Speculators have been trying to develop the Naples property since 1888. One house has been built in the last century. A multitude of speculators have gone bankrupt or entered foreclosure. Naples is the place where developer’s dreams, and their money, go to die.
We at the Naples Coalition and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and our numerous community allies are steadfast in our commitment to preserve and enhance the rural and scenic character, cultural significances and environmental integrity of Naples and the entire Gaviota Coast. We will fight this proposed development methodically and relentlessly, with the goal of securing these lands as open space for future generations to treasure and enjoy.
Gaviota Coast Conservancy past president Phil McKenna and legal counsel Marc Chytilo were interviewed and featured in the LA Times piece (on 8/11/16) by columnist Steve Lopez, "Between Hollister and Gaviota, fighting to keep rural beaches rural — and public". Here's Steve's blogpost, that discusses the role community groups like Gaviota Coast Conservancy play in guarding precious coastal resources, as a pdf. Marc and Phil took the the reporter with LA Times photographer Allen J. Schaben to the stunning Naples coast. "We want to be able to save this stretch of coast as a wild and rural area for our children and our children's children to explore," said Chytilo. "We want it to serve as a refuge for wildlife and nature... and serve as an example of how people can protect the character of their own community."