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Status UpdatesPublic Works


March 17, 2021
On February 12, 2021, the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) held a publicly noticed work session with the Design Team for the Police Station Project, and it was overall very positive.  In addition to presenting the revised plans, the goal was to provide the ABR with some additional background on the project that previously had not been presented due to the time constraints for the presentations. 

This background helped explain some of the design criteria and constraints under which the project is working.  The Board appreciated the changes that were implemented since the previous hearing in January 2021. 

Although the design is not yet complete, the Board voted 4-2 for the project to proceed to the Planning Commission to request the height exception above 45 feet.  As a designated Community Benefit Project, the building height can exceed the 45-foot height limitation for the area.  The ABR was supportive of the height of the building and the overall scale of the building, but still had concerns about the Cota Street elevation and the entry proposed on Santa Barbara Street.  The elevation of the first floor is set by the entry elevation on Santa Barbara Street, as well as the required elevation above the worst case flood elevation on Cota Street, based on the Hydrology study conducted on the site.  This puts the finished floor elevation between four feet and five feet above Cota Street.  

The project will be before the Planning Commission on March 18, 2021, for an initial concept review and for the height exception request.  There are several design elements that are being worked on and refined that the Design Team will take back to the ABR for review after the Planning Commission meeting. If you would like to listen to or participate in the planning commission hearing, please register for the meeting using the link found on the meeting’s agenda HERE .

Recently, there have been requests made by the public for story poles to be constructed in order for the proposed height of the building to be assessed.  For a building this size, story poles up to the height of 53 feet would be required. Also, the story poles would require the displacement or closure of the Farmers’ Market for at least two weeks, possibly three.  The Design Team is confident in a technological solution that will graphically show the building simulated into a fly-over of the area and show the building in context with the buildings around it and in the context of the downtown area of Santa Barbara.  This is an effective evaluation tool that could take the place of story poles.  There are two different simulations. One is a 360-degree fly-over using Google Earth, and that can be viewed by clicking HERE. The other is a street level view also using Google Earth and that can be viewed by clicking HERE.  Additionally, three photo simulations showing existing and proposed views have been installed at the site for the public to view.  Those photo simulations can be seen here as well using the following links:

Link to Photo view from Cota Street

Link to Photo view from corner of Cota and Santa Barbara Streets

Link to Photo view from Santa Barbara Street

We encourage all who are interested in this project to stay involved to improve this important project for the City of Santa Barbara.

October 1, 2020

On September 17, 2019, City Council selected the Cota Commuter Parking Lot as the preferred site alternative for environmental review for the new police station in Santa Barbara.  As part of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review, technical studies are required that will inform the design and environmental review. The City selected Dudek as the environmental consultant to produce the technical studies, conduct peer review of studies previously completed, and evaluate the site for potential environmental impacts.  This review has been completed and will culminate in an Initial Study.

Cearnal Collective and McClaren Wilson and Lawrie (MWL) are the architects producing 30% drawings for the project as part of the environmental review.  The project has received Community Benefit Status from City Council and, therefore, has the possibility of going over the 45' height limit for the area.

City Staff has submitted an application to the City’s Preliminary Review Team (PRT) and will be submitting plans to the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) for a concept hearing.  Feedback from ABR will be taken into account.  Following ABR, the project will go before Planning Commission to request the height increase above 45'.

It is expected that the project will be submitted to the Development Application Review Team (DART) submittal in early 2021.


Architectural Board of Review (ABR) Concept Hearing:  November 2020
Planning Commission Concept Hearing – height increase request:  Late 2020


Once the project has completed its DART Submittal a schedule for the project will be posted here.


A preliminary budget has been produced based on preliminary plans but cannot be relied upon enough to post here.  Once the plans have been developed beyond schematic and conceptual design, it will then be appropriate to produce a budget that can be more confidently relied upon.

Last Updated: Mar 17, 2021
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