Montecito Club’s Sports Complex Latest

By Kelly Herrick   |   July 22, 2021

Last Thursday, after more than four hours of discussion, the Santa Barbara City Planning Commission voted unanimously to give Montecito Club owner Ty Warner and disgruntled neighbor Angelo Mozilo two months to cooperate enough to conduct a noise study at the Club’s “Sports Complex,” which was built on the property’s upper lawn without the benefit of permits. The Sports Complex includes a children’s sliding hill, three athletic hard courts, sand volleyball court, turf soccer field, a batting cage (which is in the location of previously approved golf hitting bays), grading, rock retaining walls, and related signage, landscaping, and hardscaping. Club reps were also in front of the Commission for approval of a new 1,100-square-foot golf simulator facility located between the tennis courts, tennis building, cart storage building, and clubhouse. 

Mozilo, who is being represented by attorney Barry Cappello, had filed a temporary restraining order earlier this month, forcing all activity at the complex to cease. In a letter to the Commission, Cappello called the Sports Complex “grossly inappropriate” and less than 100 feet from Mozilo’s property. Mozilo has complained about insufficient setbacks of the Complex and noise impacts. 

The Planning Commission approved the redesign of the Club and golf course in 2009, which included improvements to the entirety of the golf course as well as a remodel to the clubhouse including a renovated pool complex with a family pool and lap pools, new locker rooms and lounges, new fitness rooms, an improved dining venue, renovations to the kitchen, and more. Exterior improvements included a new member event lawn, a new golf cart storage building, updated parking lots, a new upper maintenance facility, and extensive landscaping. More than 100 members of the Montecito Club sent letters of support to the Commission last week, urging them to approve the as-built Sports Complex. 

Reps for the Club told the Commission that the Club is sensitive to noise impacts to the neighboring community, and that they require that members use only club-provided bats, balls, and pickleball paddles, which are made from noise abating materials. Before the restraining order, the Complex was open from 9 am to 7 pm or sunset (whichever occurs first). An associated City Staff report asserts that noise levels from the facility will not exceed standards, and that no lighting is proposed at the facility. There are also no proposed changes to membership levels, parking, or other operational aspects of the Club. The golf simulator and associated equipment are proposed to be screened within a building; staff found the project to be compatible with the approved development of the property. 

The Commission agreed to an objective of monitoring the noise from the Sports Complex and analyzing compatibility with the surrounding residential neighborhood. In addition, the motion included a requirement that the Club analyze potential alternative locations for the Sports Complex, particularly the batting cages. The Club is also required to increase signage related to the requirement of utilizing only the noise mitigating equipment at the Complex, and a hotline with an easily found phone number must be set up to field complaints.

“Fairness is very important here. That is regardless of who owns the property, how large the property is, and the uses of the property,” said chair Deborah Schwartz

“Today’s hearing is very disconcerting for me. With all due respect to the applicant’s team members here today, I don’t really think there are any justifications or excuses that are acceptable. But I’m trying to find my way through this,” Schwartz said prior to voting in agreement with the noise monitoring plan.

 

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