Believing that the Montecito Association was about to send a letter to the County of Santa Barbara noting disappointment in the recent MBAR approval of his hillside residence, Robert Largura visited their monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 9, to offer his viewpoint, and he didn’t come alone.
He arrived at the Association with a half a dozen land use pros in tow, along with a scale model of the project. However, before Largura could even unwrap the model, MA’s VP Diane Pannkuk explained that, with an appeal of the project now pending at the Montecito Planning Commission, the Association had decided to defer any comments on the project until the county’s staff report was delivered. But not wanting to miss the opportunity to hear Largura’s case, Pannkuk invited them to explain the project to the MA board.
Architect Bob Easton began with a history of the property, noting it has been in development since 1998. “It’s been a struggle, but we are committed to the project,” he said, in what may be the understatement of the year. “We’ve worked on it for a long time. There have been six different versions of the plan and we have worked with the community to scale down the project,” he explained.
Easton said he believed the lengthy effort might be due to ambiguities in Montecito’s architectural guidelines. “There is a belief they are open to interpretation. If they were better defined, it would certainly be helpful to us,” he said, nodding to the land use professionals in the audience. “I would love to help with that direction because I have the battle scars and I can provide information. We all want to see our community preserved, but it has to be fair.”
After the presentation, the MA board, as promised, took no action. Pannkuk said no date has been set for MPC’s hearing on the Largura project appeal, which was brought forward by Largura’s neighbors, Kay and Dave Peterson.