The City of Carpinteria Architectural Review Board gave a glowing show of support last week for the mix-use revitalization project slated for the 500 block of Maple Avenue, a stark difference from the last time the developers brought the project to the board. 

The project, brought by developer Tom Vernon and designed by architect Jeff Shelton, features five new one-bedroom long-term rental units, ranging from 529 sq ft to 795 sq ft, as well renovations to the two existing one-bedroom units on the site. The property is 18,138 square feet, or 0.42 acres.

In total, the property would feature seven one-bedroom units. Three of the units would be located in a two-story tri-plex, alongside six one-car garages, three open art studios, two trash enclosures and two mechanical rooms. Each unit would have a roof top deck. 

The other two units would be located in a duplex on the other side of the property. The existing two one-bedroom cottages and garage would remain, but the larger cottage would be reduced in size in order to add a workshop and would be reclassified as an ADU. 

The project is slated to have 55% open space across the property. Of the total trees on the site, six will remain according to the concept art. This includes a Torrey pine, a redwood and a Canary palm, among others. The storage building and wooden deck currently on the property would be demolished. The plan also features a courtyard with outdoor seating and dining areas, which the board complimented.

This is a drastic change from the previous concept, which featured several short-term dwelling units – “Airbnbs” – alongside a few long-term housing units. Nearby business owners had previously expressed concern about the original plans and property, CVN previously reported. 

But at last Thursday’s meeting, the board welcomed the project’s changes, expressing concern primarily only with parking and trash. 

“This will be exciting,” Vice Chair Jason Rodriguez said. “Definitely a future improvement.” Rodriguez expressed concern about the trash enclosures – and the plan to use sawblades as a decoration on the tri-plex – but complimented the plan’s upper decks. 

Board members Amy Blackmore, Richard Johnson and Jim Reginato also praised the open space concept, applauding the owners for keeping some of the trees in place. 

“I think someone’s having way too much fun with this project,” Johnson joked. 

Blackmore requested that the plan make room for bigger carports, noting that her own truck, for example, would be too wide to fit into those spaces. 

“Other than that, it’s a great project,” she said. “I like that they’re taking care of the trees.” 

Reginato noted that the only thing he is firmly against in the project is the upper decks located on the triplex, stating it was “too much invasion of privacy” and had “too much noise for the neighborhood.” 

Chair Brad Stein also emphasized his support for the project, noting that he was “dead set against what you were planning a couple years ago.” 

“I think this is a great step in the right direction that you guys are taking,” he said. “Everything you’re doing here is a terrific example between a commercial and residential transition in that area.” 

The project now moves onto the Planning Commission’s desk.

“We’re excited for the project, we appreciate your support and look forward to your input,” Vernon said during the meeting. 

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