New Santa Barbara Police Station Passes Rally to Planning Commission | Local News

Santa Barbara Police Station almost has a new home.

The city one Urban planning commission Thursday voted 5-0 to approve a development plan for the new $92 million police department headquarters at 601 Santa Barbara St. Commissioners Jay Higgins and Devon Wardlow were absent.

“From the very beginning, we were committed to designing a state-of-the-art police station that was flexible and adaptable to the needs of the department and the community over the next century,” said the project architect. Brian Cearnalpartner of Cearnal Collective.

“We believe the architecture will promote inclusivity within the department and positive interaction with the community. It will also be a powerful recruiting tool, ensuring our community has the best possible police force.

The current police station at 215 E. Figueroa St. has been plagued with substandard conditions for decades. The building is in need of a seismic upgrade, there are myriad electrical and plumbing faults, and soil contamination has been discovered in the parking lot.

Moreover, the building is so cramped that the City of Santa Barbara rents three other buildings to house its police services.

For more than 20 years, Santa Barbara struggled to find a way to build a new station. Every site considered sparked controversy, and officials never found a way to pay for it. A mandatory measure to this end was voted down by voters in 1999.

In 2017, however, voters approved Measure C, a 1% sales tax increase that created a revenue stream to help pay for the facility. The city also plans to seek bond financing for the three-story, 65,000-square-foot building, as well as a 236-space parking structure.

In the best-case scenario, construction could be completed by 2026, if it begins by 2024.

The Planning Commission praised the project, noting that it was long overdue.

“This project is very well done,” observed Commissioner John Baucke.

The only concerns raised at the meeting were the solar panels, the replacement of a bus stop and the design of the station tower.

Commissioner Sheila Lodge noted the lack of curves on the proposed tower.

“It has to say Santa Barbara when you look at it,” she said. “In a way, it’s a bit out of place, when there’s nothing else on the building that suggests Santa Barbara-style architecture.”

Cearnal said he respectfully disagrees.

“I think there are many treasured buildings in Santa Barbara that don’t have arches, that are still Santa Barbara, and we think this building is very compatible and reflective of Santa Barbara.”

Nonetheless, Cearnal said he would continue to work with the Architectural Review Board to refine the tower.

Lodge is supportive of the entire project, noting that “it’s something that’s been needed for decades.”

Commissioner Lesley Wiscomb said she appreciates that the project, which will be built on the site of municipal suburban land at the corner of East Cota and Santa Barbara Streets, is pedestrian-friendly on the Santa Barbara Street side.

“I appreciate that it’s downtown,” she added. “I think it’s essential.”

The suburban lot is also the longtime Saturday morning home farmers marketand Baucke encouraged the city to continue working with market organizers to find a new site.

“I don’t want to see the folks at the farmer’s market left behind,” he said.

The current plan is to move the Farmers Market to State Street at the intersection of Carrillo Street.

The commission asked the architects to add more solar panels. The design team had previously included more, but the Architectural Board of Review requested less due to the visual impact along the Cota Street side of the building.

According to the commission, the building should have a “net-zero” impact on the environment and more solar panels are better.

Architect Jeff Hornbuckleanother Cearnal Collective partner, agreed and said the design team would push for more solar panels at the next ABR meeting.

“It’s a modern building, we put solar power on it,” he said. “Our thought was, let’s kind of celebrate it, let’s not try to hide it.”

– Noozhawk writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Login with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Aurora J. William