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 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 concept drawings completed for a two-story building, according to a report from the County General Services Department.
The Senior Center has not yet launched a capital campaign to raise construction funds, said Ellen Albertoni, executive director of the center, although it has about $50,000 in seed money from a Solvang Rotary Club fundraiser.
“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.