A mixed-use project proposed for the corner of Bell and St. Joseph streets in Los Alamos got a green light Tuesday when the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the Bell Street Ordinance requested by the developer.

Supervisors voted 4-0, with 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam absent, to approve an amendment the staff said would provide consistency between the Bell Street Design Guidelines and the Land Use Development Code’s development standards for the Community Mixed-Use — Los Alamos zone regarding where residential units are allowed.

The vote came at the board meeting in Santa Maria after virtually no discussion and no public comment.

"I am effusive in my support of this project," 1st District Supervisor and Chairman Das Williams said from the board chambers in Santa Barbara, where he and 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf were participating by video link.

Williams said the project is a perfect example of mixed-use projects and "we need more of them."

In addition to the amendment, supervisors approved abandonment of a portion of county right of way and a tentative tract map and land-use permit for the project known as St. Joseph on Bell, which will consist of two, two-story buildings on a currently vacant lot at the corner of Bell and St. Joseph.

In December, county planning commissioners voted 4-0, with one member absent, to recommend the supervisors approve the amendment, tract map, land-use permit and right of way abandonment.

The CM-LA zone requires that residential uses only be allowed on the second story of developments on parcels that front Bell Street within the Los Alamos Community Plan. Currently, approximately 21 acres of land fronting Bell Street are zoned CM-LA.

However, the amendment will allow residential uses on both floors of a parcel on a secondary street that does not have a Bell front line, and all of the 21 acres under CM-LA zoning will now be subject to the amended standards, according to a report to supervisors by planner Rey Montaño.

“With the adoption of this ordinance amendment, housing would be encouraged in locations that are adjacent to existing residential uses and within walking distance to the community’s commercial core along Bell Street,” Montaño said.

She noted the amendments to the Land Use Development Code will take effect within 30 days of adoption.

Owner Sean McGrath can now provide commercial uses on the ground floor and residential condominiums on the second floor of the building closest to Bell Street, while the building at the back of the lot will have residential condominiums on both floors.

Abandonment of a 6-foot section of right of way along St. Joseph Street will allow the developer to create a covered walkway in front of the buildings, thus providing a “Gallery Façade,” one of the three façades encouraged by the Bell Street Design Guidelines and the Land Use Development Code.


News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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