30-room self-check-in hotel project on Garden Street has neighbors worried

A proposed 30-room self-check-in hotel project at 812 Garden Street has raised some eyebrows among those at the seniors’ cottages next door after the project received final design approval through the Order of the day of consent of the Historic Monuments Commission on March 2.

Several members of the public have contacted the commissioners, including the executive director of Laguna Cottage for Seniors and former Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Commissioner Beebe Longstreet.

“It’s a very quiet neighborhood and there are a lot of old people,” Longstreet told the Independent. The fact that it slipped under the radar and landed on the consent agenda to receive final approval also rubbed some community members the wrong way, she said.

During the approval, Historic Landmarks Commission Vice Chairman Steve Hausz addressed the concerns of Longstreet and others, reiterating that the approval was for exterior alterations to the existing building itself, and that the interior operations and alterations were not within the purview of the commission.

Credit: Courtesy

“These were very minor exterior changes, so it was appropriate to go to consent,” he said, “but otherwise it was up to municipal code and all other requirements, we don’t So we had very little expertise in that regard.” He also addressed the finality of the decision.

“Although this may be a ‘final’ approval – which some of them were concerned about, that they would not have the opportunity to provide information – it was only the final approval of exterior design,” Hausz said.

At the city council meeting shortly after the commission’s final approval, Longstreet spoke during public comments, citing noise, safety, and parking issues; most importantly, she expressed concerns about what she said was an “unregulated” hotel.

“We’re looking at 30 units of, essentially, Airbnb,” Longstreet said. She fears the influx of short-term visitors without a lobby or check-in desk is a recipe for disaster, and cited a California code that says any apartment building larger than 12 units must have on-site management. square. If safety issues were to arise, she said, Laguna Cottage site managers would likely have to respond.

“How does this happen and who enforces the lack of management?” she asked.

The owner and man behind the project is Arvand Sabetian, a Bay Area native who now lives in Santa Barbara and has been making waves as a cute young entrepreneur. Inc.com‘s 30 Under 30 list in 2013 for a company he founded during his junior year of high school. He sold the company, Arvixe, in 2014 for $22 million and has since launched a new company, Ziprent, which is described as “the next generation property management”.

Sabetian said he hoped to work with the city and its new neighbors and said the reason the project didn’t need more fanfare and public hearings was that it was mostly exterior changes and that a commercial-to-commercial conversion did not require extensive refitting.

The plan rendering shows an office building converted into 30 individual units, each with its own kitchenette, and the addition of a 998 square foot mezzanine. The biggest change would be the addition of an elevator in place of an existing staircase.

Sabetian has another space in Santa Barbara, Casa Valerio at 6 East Valerio Street, which is a smaller-scale version of what it would offer on Garden Street. At the new location, tenants would receive a personalized key code on their phone that would be specific to their stay. When the customers leave, a cleaning service receives another message to clean and check the unit. With 30 units, Sabetian said there would rarely be a day without staff on site. Overall, he feels like his neighbors share the same goals of keeping the place quiet and safe.

“Concerns about security issues are also a concern for me,” Sabetian said. “I really value the reputation, and to do that I have to provide a quiet place.”

He added that the lack of a lobby, although it looks like it would be a free-for-all, actually leads to a more low-key location. With no lobby or pool, guests have no place to congregate and generally head out to explore the city. “It’s not a complex. People aren’t really going to hang around.

It is even testing new security measures at its Valerio site, which kick in when sound levels reach a certain decibel level and alert officials. Since operating in Santa Barbara, he said, he has never had a police report.

The Garden Street location also has 23 dedicated parking spaces, and Sabetian intends to keep all of them available for potential customers. He intends to start construction as soon as he is cleared, but said he will continue to work with neighbors on any concerns they may have.

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