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Community speaks out over proposed resort along Carpinteria Bluffs

CARPINTERIA, Calif. – For more than half a century, locals and visitors from around the world have cherished the iconic Carpinteria bluffs as a gem in Southern California.  

"It means tranquility ... it means I watch my children, use their imaginations, picking up sticks and seeing birds, and finding critters on the ground," said resident Julia Mayer of Carpinteria.

The small, seaside town embodies California's pristine coast with sunsets melting in the Pacific.

“This town is about love all around and showing up for the community in ways that provide places like this … provides an opportunity really for folks in town experience … open land untouched," said president Patrick Crooks of the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs.

Protection of this area has been fierce.

In the past 20 years, Carpinteria residents fought against development, and won.

Proposals for hotels, housing tracts, and business parks came and went without success.

“When I was a teen in 1996, we all band we banded together to save this land. The kids of our community put quarters and nickels into big water jugs to save this land, and what that really did was for me that showed me that we had the ability to actually make a difference in our community," said Mayer.

In January of this year, story poles went up along 27-acres adjacent to the existing preserve on the bluffs, reigniting a long-burning fire in the community.  

For the first time since 2022, the city was faced with a new proposed development: A 99-room “farmhouse resort".

"I’m very passionate … I believe that open space is as important as having a school library and arts Center for our community … open space is so important for kids nurtures as human beings," said resident Ted Rhodes of Carpinteria.

Plans were officially presented to a standing-room only crowd at the city’s Architectural Review Board on Jan. 25. 

"Well, I went to the hearing to help lead the charge to raise our concerns to the architecture review board as to why this proposed development is totally out of scale with what should be on this property," said Rhodes.

Several generations of Carpinterians including kids said they are stunned by the scope of the project.

“I really didn’t like it because it would be much more crowded and block the views … and probably scare off the nature that lives here and deserves to be here," said Hallie Mayer of Carpinteria.

“I hope he does not build that hotel on the bluffs. I love it because it’s peaceful it’s calm there’s  nature everywhere. There’s birds there’s wildlife," said resident Franklin Steward of Carpinteria.

While the project remains under review, locals are hoping the developer will sell the land to the community.

“There’s a huge sentiment from the community … I would say there’s probably thousands of people ready to throw in some money right now if the opportunity came," said Rhodes.

I reached out to the developer, Matthew Goodwin, for his side of the story.

He sent a statement that reads, in part:

“We believe this plan embodies the spirit and vision of the city’s future with an iconic low-key hotel celebrating Carpinteria’s coastal farming history while also fulfilling a real need for additional affordable housing and permanently protecting over 50 pervent of the property as publicly accessible open space."

The project represents a proposed 27 acre development in which dozens of buildings would spring up from the coastline’s green open spaces.

His plan includes 41 affordable housing units, a 99-room bungalow-style retreat, a gathering barn, a farm strand, a 2-acre farm, 3 acres of preserved farmland and 10.5 acres of open space.

Goodwin believes the proposed design “honors the natural beauty of the Bluffs and will coexist with the wildlife and open spaces that we all treasure.”

In the meantime, locals are hoping the Carpinteria Bluffs go the way of the Douglas and San Marcos Foothill Preserves, among others, and remains untouched.

"It’s something you sort of take for granted until it’s threatened," said Julia Mayer.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs

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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.


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