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Carpinteria Farm and Hospitality Experience proposal gets first public hearing

Pubic comments overwhelmingly oppose hotel and housing concept overlooking Carpinteria bluffs

CARPINTERIA, Calif. – Some people hitting golf balls at the First Tee at Sunset Ridge off of Carpinteria Avenue are worried a proposed project will close their favorite driving range.

They call it Tee Time and it is open seven days a week for people of all ages.

Golfer Kenny Bouchard said, "I  get there is an economy for it, but at the same time I believe in youth development in sports and this great place for kids to enjoy the game."

He said sometimes people see celebrities including Rob Lowe hitting golf balls at the range.

But the area is now at the center of a proposal called the Carpinteria Farm & Hospitality Experience.

It would cover the 28-acre site, farmland and undeveloped acres between the bluff top and the train tracks.

It would include a 99-room hotel, 34 bungalows and a building with 16 residential units, a restaurant and event space.

It would also include an organic farming area, a farm stand, open space and trails.

People packed city hall and an outside tent to hear and comment on the conceptual review on Wednesday night.

They included members of a group called "Save The Rest of the Carpinteria Bluffs."

Julia Mayer brought her children to the podium and said, "We cannot allow a resort to be placed in the center."

Mayer helped fight for a skate park for her children to enjoy and she doesn't want them to lose the open space the entire community enjoys.

Speakers including council members talked about about the estuary on one end of the Carpinteria and the bluffs on the other.

They also talked about it having a Chumash history.

Susie Anderson held a sign opposing the proposal and said , "The bluffs belong to the people, they have a history of open space, they are open space and they should stay open space forever.".

But the land was sold to developers looking for opportunities and this isn't the first time the city has heard proposals.

Developer and Cal Poly Grad Matthew Goodwin of Camarillos said he represents Carp Bluffs, LLC.

"We are really trying to slim a lot of this down to the point where it is as tight as it could be," said Goodwin.

He said they have been trying to work with the general plan and the community to make something special for Carpinteria.

"There would be one restaurant that would be hyper-unique to this project and I do think an agriculture component has worked successfully in other parts of the world."

He said it would not be like the Rosewood Miramar in Montecito.

"I personally think that is a travesty what happened up the road, as I mentioned I went to the original one for many many years as a kid."

He said they have been working on the concept for 30 months and have a lot to think about after hearing all but one public comments in favor of the concept.

"Perhaps there is a way to propose some kind of project that can make permanent the existing open space and more permanent active recreational open space."

No votes were taken at the hearing.

This was just the first public hearing before the City Council, the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Board on a proposal that could need the approval of the coastal commission.

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

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