Money and Business

Hotel Californian artificial grass becomes a turf battle in Santa Barbara

Operators say it will be green throughout the year

The artificial grass at the Hotel Californian created a real dispute at Santa Barbara City Hall. (John Palminteri/KEYT photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The artificial grass at the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara may be fake but a controversy over it is real.

The grass was laid out in a special plaza area near conference rooms and a dining patio.

Santa Barbara's Historic Landmarks Commission appealed the choice of grass  to the city council Tuesday saying the turf was not approved.

The commission says it requested real Buffalo grass in the area.

An attorney for the hotel, Doug Fell said the artificial grass is going to be green year round and a better surface for guests at special events. "The Buffalo grass would not have provided the appropriate circumstances to allow people to walk in high heels and other types of shoes in our view the use of that lawn is going to be very important for public events," he said.

The city council has sided with the Hotel Californian on the design, but not without having a discussion on how the signals were mixed up on the grass issue from the design process to the final layout.

Incoming Mayor Cathy Murillo, a current council member said, "be creative. There are other ways to landscape to make it appealing to brides and cocktail parties and dessert flowers are beautiful."

During the peak of the drought in the last seven years, Santa Barbara leaders have been favorable to projects that removed lawns and even offered rebates to residents who designed low water use landscaping. Many properties in town have artificial grass as a result of the water shortage. 

The Hotel Californian opened in late September in an area of lower State Street that was rundown for years. 

The 121-room hotel has a three-corner design, and retained the shape of the classic previous hotel that was built in 1925.   

It has panoramic views from  a rooftop pool along with a spa, fitness area and two restaurants for now.  A third restaurant, Finney's Crafthouse and Kitchen,  is set to open soon along with Melville wine tasting and a McConnell's ice cream shop.

The hotel project is reshaping the Waterfront in Santa Barbara as the gateway to the city.

Soon, there will be improvements between the lower end of Santa Barbara to downtown by changing the design of the Highway 101 underpass.  Community meetings are being held to discuss new art, lighting and pedestrian walkways.

For more information on the hotel go to :  Hotel Californian

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