The start of a new year often brings with it new ideas, concepts and dreams.

During the latest meeting of the City of Santa Barbara’s Architectural Board of Review at the town’s David Gebhard Public Meeting Room on Jan. 24, substance often took a back seat to style as the seven-member board heard a handful of architect/owners bring forth their plans for the year.

The board took care of its business straight away, wasting little time voting on new officers and choosing which members would participate in the sub-committees that deal with issues ranging anywhere from creek design to visual arts in public places. There was little change in leadership as Christopher Manson-Hing remained in his chair position while Dawn Sherry was voted in again as vice-chair.

Board member Chris Gilliland spoke of his recent negotiations with Caltrans during the Highway 101 Subcommittee report. In particular, he spoke of the proposal of building a third lane near the northbound 101 off-ramp at Salinas Street.

Gilliland spoke of the importance of having a sufficient amount of vegetation on the median, and Caltrans’ insistence that there be a 10-foot shoulder on both sides of the median as a safety requirement. He lobbied for the agency to accept a 9-foot shoulder instead, but reported that they wouldn’t budge.

Item 1 on the afternoon’s agenda featured a plan by the Perry Family Trust to tear down their current 1,771 square foot single-family residence to make room for a new three-unit, two-story, two-bedroom, 5,007 square-foot residential condominium development next to Mission Creek. The property at 432 W. Islay St. sits up against the freeway, occupying a lot that encompasses 7,250 square-feet bordered by a 12-foot-high sound wall covered with ivy.

“When we have a two-story building up to the set-back (line of the property), it’s nothing new to the neighborhood,” said architect Brian Nelson of the location, pointing out the other tall structures in the neighborhood which also features sycamore trees and vast amounts of greenery.

The project which is headed next to the Planning Commission was approved by the board by a vote of 6 to 1, with member Paul Zink representing the dissenting vote. “I’m not comfortable with it – you’re six feet away from the sound wall,” explained Zink.

As the day progressed, the planners examined iron window bars, stepping stones and 3rd-floor privacy issues, among the varied designs brought before them, all in the line of duty.