Solvang Senior Center

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved an extended lease on the land under the Solvang Senior Center, seen here in a photo from June 2017, to help the organization obtain funding to build a new, larger facility on the same site.

Solvang Senior Center got a little help in its effort to build a new facility when the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved an extended site lease with the Santa Ynez Valley Senior Advisory Council Inc., which operates the center.

The request for a new lease came before the board Sept. 11 as part of the administrative agenda, a group of items usually approved in a single vote without comment.

But it was pulled from that agenda to allow a Senior Center representative to address the board.

Alice Olla, president of the Solvang Senior Center, told supervisors the existing facility was put together from modular units in 1983, and although the organization has maintained the building, it is starting to show its age.

In addition, Olla said, the organization with more than 400 members is outgrowing the space, which is not efficient or well-suited to its current use.

The organization plans to replace the existing structure with a new facility and has already had drawings completed for a 6,645-square-foot, two-story building estimated to cost $2 million, according to a report from the County General Services Department.

So far, the organization has raised $1 million and plans to seek a loan to cover the remainder of the cost, the report said.

“But it’s hard to ask for money when it is only a five-year lease,” Olla told the board.

The center’s existing lease was set to expire in 2019, with an option to extend it to 2024.

According to the General Services report, the new facility would consist of about 1,200 square feet of offices and meeting rooms on the upper story, while the lower story would contain a large dining room, a commercial kitchen, handicapped-accessible restrooms and an outside eating area with a built-in barbecue grill.

However, the report noted the design of the new center will have to come back to the board for final approval, and supervisors can require the organization to adopt an alternative, impose mitigation measures or reject the project as a result of environmental review.

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann urged the board to support the new lease, which would expand the ground area from 12,000 to 16,000 square feet, keep the rental price at zero and extend the period to 20 years, with three 10-year renewal options.

“They’re making an investment in the community, and this is a way we can support that,” Hartmann said.

Supervisors wasted no time in debating the issue, but immediately voted 5-0 to approve the new lease.

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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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