This year’s election cycle includes a hotly contested race for Carpinteria’s two open seats on City Council. Citizens of the World’s Safest Beach will have a chance to choose two councilmembers from a pool of three qualified candidates. Incumbent Mayor Wade Nomura competes for his third term, with eight years Council service under his belt, and the desire to serve another four.
Candidate and Carpinteria-native Natalia Alarcon hopes her experience in community service and background as a bilingual Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist will help her win a seat on the Council to “amplify the voices of our underrepresented community members.” And, retired professor and media presenter Mark McIntire has thrown his hat in the ring with the slogan, “Make Carpinteria better than ever.”
This week, in the last installment of CVN’s “Ask the Candidates” series, a four-part Q&A series aimed at helping readers make an informed decision on Election Day, we find out how each candidate stands on the Train Station Inn project. To see all installments of Ask the Candidates, visit coastalview.com.
This week’s question: In the next two years, City Council will be reviewing a proposal for development of an inn on Linden Avenue at the Amtrak Station parking lot. The city stands to raise significant revenues through the lease and bed tax collected from an inn, but some concerns have been raised about loss of open space, parking congestion and the role of city government in commercial enterprise. What actions and opinions do you intend to take regarding developing an inn in that location?
The city has entered into an understanding with one developer who is pursuing an inn on the site adjacent to the railway station. The understanding does not guarantee that the project will be approved; it only provides that their plans will be reviewed by the design review bodies.
The developers are currently in the conceptual phase of design and have not submitted a formal design application. Therefore, their design has not been subject to review and no decision has been made.
As a member of City Council, I cannot ethically make comments on this project until at a council agendized hearing. I can, however, make comment on the process of projects such as this without getting into specifics.
The review process includes Architectural Review Board, Planning Commission and City Council. All projects need to be evaluated on what is best for the community. At each review stage, public comments can be made and ways to mitigate items of high concern or that may be considered non-conforming should be provided.
The Planning Commission’s review includes secondary potential impacts such as to neighborhoods beyond the actual project site.
City Council then reviews the entire project including the perceived pros and cons.
It is my responsibility to ensure that a comprehensive review is given to all projects or we risk not evaluating them based on what is best for the community. I spent close to 18 years on the Architectural Review Board which has given me the experience to better understand our design guidelines and consider possible solutions for negative features of a project that could potentially bring it into conformance. I have also lived in Carpinteria since 1977 and appreciate our small-town charm.
I will consider all factors affecting our community. My decision will be based on what is best for Carpinteria.
Many residents have expressed concerns about the proposed inn at the railroad station. The lack of community parking, obstruction of views, noise and the overall fit are all reservations I have as well. Our council recently passed an extension of 365 days, allowing the developer to present the proposed project at a conceptual review meeting.
It is my understanding that the conceptual review of this project will be in November. At this review, I will be participating during this presentation through public comment and I hope many of you will do the same. Community input will be vital.
Making a well thought out and educated decision is of utmost importance on this issue. My educational and work background as a licensed psychotherapist and a program manager at a community non-profit gives me the ability to evaluate all sides and arrive at practical solutions to difficult issues.
When I am elected to City Council, I will be accessible to all those who live and/or work in Carpinteria and I’m eager to hear your perspectives on this and any other issues.
As this is a topic that continues to advance in Carpinteria, I encourage residents to submit their opinions of the inn, both positive and negative, through the city’s website: carpinteria.ca.us.
This is a no-brainer. The present proposal for the development of a Montecito-style luxury hotel, euphemistically called an ‘inn,’ should be scrapped immediately. It’s a bad idea.
In the first place, the City Council never even surveyed every Carpinterian with a cell phone if they even wanted a train station luxury hotel, wiping out 65 prime beach parking spaces in the process.
In the second place, the council violated the competitive bidding democratic process by entering into an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with a single bidding developer with a spotty record.
In the third place, the present planned ‘inn’ is too large for that footprint in the present train station parking lot. Council is charging ahead without solving the relocation of the 65 parking spaces sacrificed by this ‘inn.’ There is a city-owned ‘open-space’ between the train tracks and The Spot, but then, Carpinterians lose another prime open space. Madness!
Lastly, that parking lot was a life saver during our recent fire/flood Highway 101 closure for weeks at a time providing the only way in or out of Santa Barbara for Carpinterians.
My voting principle is: ask “we the people” first before Council makes commitments of public resources that will affect our community for decades. I certainly will when I’m elected this Nov. 3.