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Old 09-25-2004, 10:56 AM
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Default Santa Barbara-San Marcos Foothills Mini-mansion Development

A development of a 300+ acre area near Santa Barbara is currently under consideration by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. The site has been the subject of several development proposals over the years, none of which have been approved. Now, the newest proposal calls for subdividing the property to accommodate mini-mansions, the type of housing that is in such short supply and provides so much to communities such as Santa Barbara, where only people with incomes above $150,000 per year can afford to buy a modest home.
Visit one group's website for lots of good information on this project at, the San Marcos Foothills Coalition.
At issue at The Preserve at San Marcos (the currently proposed development) is the loss of grasslands, lichen boulder fields, and habitat to rare birds such as the Burrowing Owl and Grasshopper Sparrow.
Another group, the Small Wilderness Areas Preserve (SWAP), in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Center of Santa Barbara have developed an alternative that it wants the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to consider, that would allow almost the same number of houses (including the mini-mansions) but significantly reduce the adverse impacts to the environment. However, the County staff have determined that the SWAP alternative is not economically feasible, but have failed to support their conclusions with any economic analysis.
Information can also be found at, and the project description can be downloaded from the Santa Barbara County's website devrev/projects/sanmarcos/2-IS&Scope.pdf.
Fire hazard issues at sites such as this will further impact natural vegetation and wildlife habitats as the Santa Barbara County Fire Department requires clearing of natural vegetation for a distance of 100 feet from all buildings. The SWAP alternative would result in the smallest area of impact, and in fact would require almost no brush clearing beyond the proposed Landscaping and Development Envelopes (LDEs), something that sets it appart from the other project alternatives, besides minimizing the edge of development adjacent to natural habitats.
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