A highly contentious meeting over the Miramar Hotel could put the current project in jeopardy.
The Montecito Planning Commission’s decision to postpone the hearing caused billionaire developer Rick Caruso to bolt out of the hearing room and did not talk to members of the media.
Caruso and his team at Caruso Affiliated spent six and a half hours before the Montecito Planning Commission in Santa Barbara on Monday.
This was to be the last phase of approvals on the second revision of the plan which decreased the overall size of the hotel.
A previous project had already been approved by the planning commission. That included 186 rooms, a fine dining restaurant with 258 seats, and a banquet hall with a 500 guest maximum. However, Caruso Affiliated proposed a revised project that would reduce 16 rooms and 100 less banquet guests.
Members of the commission hammered away at a number of concerns including parking, water use and landscaping.
More than 70 members of the public were in the hearing room and mostly voiced support for Caruso and the project.
A few people brought up concerns including one Miramar beach homeowner’s lawyer. The lawyer wanted to postpone the project because of what he said is lack of parking.
After hours of debate on the parking issue, Caruso reached a boiling point.
“You’ve got one homeowner who has asked us, asked me, to give him my real estate so he can park his cars when he visits a home that he bought that doesn’t have parking. How would you feel?” Caruso asked the commission.
The developer was interrupted by First Vice Chair J’Amy Brown.
“Mr. Caruso could you finish up please?” she asked.
“No. I will finish up. With all do respect, but how would you feel if someone asked you for your real estate for free? So all I’m asking you to do is take a vote. And if you don’t like this project, vote it down. That’s fine. But we’re not changing it,” said Caruso.
The planning commission continued the hearing until late next month to address more concerns.
The decision will inevitably put the groundbreaking for the project up in the air.Slideshow: Montecito Planning Commission and Future of Miramar Hotel