Thank you for your interest in the Museum's Campus Master Plan. Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about our Master Plan. Please click on a question below to see the answer. To return to the list of questions, click the "top" link at the end of each question.
Q: What is a Master Plan? top
A: A Master Plan is a comprehensive study of an organization’s property and existing conditions with a forward-looking perspective on its future goals, needs, and objectives.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Master Plan aims to revitalize the Museum’s physical facilities and grounds so that they effectively support the institution’s programs and mission in serving the community and enable the Museum to continue being a leader in its field in the 21st century.
Q: Why does the Museum need a Master Plan? top
A: The Museum needs to plan for an urgently needed physical renewal of its campus. A master plan is necessary both to guide this renewal and to comply with a mandate by the City of Santa Barbara.
- AGE: The Museum is nearly 100 years old; many buildings are beyond their natural life expectancy and are deteriorating.
- FUNCTION: Many of the buildings do not meet current museum standards or civic codes. Water leaks threaten the preservation of exhibits and collections, extensive termite infestations weaken building structures, visitors are poorly served because of a lack of basic amenities, and daily operations are hampered by inadequate building infrastructure.
- FIRE PROTECTION: The current campus layout prevents emergency access and fire protection for the whole length of the campus along Mission Creek. This deficiency became alarmingly evident during the Jesusita Fire that ravaged Mission Canyon in 2009.
- SUSTAINABILITY: Built in an earlier age, the current buildings are highly unsustainable in their operation and maintenance and no longer comply with contemporary demands for sustainability.
- REQUIRED: The City of Santa Barbara is requiring that the Museum submit a proposal for a comprehensive Master Plan for the future development of its campus.
Q: What is the Museum’s primary goal for its Master Plan? top
A: The primary goal of the Master Plan is to ensure the vitality of the Museum and its ability to provide relevant services to our community for the next 100 years.
Our idea is to combine our daily Museum objectives to promote sustainability through educational exhibits, research, and our natural history collections into ourcampus land use plans. To accomplish this, we have developed our NATURE goals: N = native habitat restoration; A = amenities for visitors & researchers; T = transforming exhibits; U = upgrading fire protections; R = rehabilitate historic structures; E = environmental sustainability & design.
Q: What does the Museum's Concept Master Plan look like? top
A: Please click on the images below to see a diagrams of the site development zones, existing site, and the proposed concept master plan site.
Q: Will the Museum’s Master Plan bring more people to the Museum and the Mission Canyon area? top
A: No. The Museum does not propose to change program activities or increase the historic maximum baseline of attendance.
The Museum currently operates under three Conditional Use Permits (CUP) issued by the City in 1989, 1991 and 1992. The Museum will request the City to consider a Specific Plan which will consolidate the three CUPs into one updated document that will codify and retain all neighborhood protection and operational conditions.
Q: How does the Museum’s Master Plan impact traffic? top
A: The Museum is undergoing an initial analysis of current traffic patterns and potential changes to the traffic patterns.
Initially the Museum considered the possibility to create left a turn lane on Mission Canyon Road at the intersection with Puesta del Sol and to change Puesta del Sol in front of the Museum from one-way to a two-way road. This concept is no longer a part of the Museum's Master Plan.
Q: After the Tea and Jesusita Fires of 2009, how does the Museum plan to protect its exhibits and collections from future fire threats? top
A: The plan includes fire resistant structures, below grade spaces for the storage of irreplaceable collections, a range of fire protection measures and improved access for emergency vehicles and equipment.
The Museum is located in a high fire zone and is keenly aware of the threat of recurrent fires in Mission Canyon. The proposed Master Plan includes features designed to protect lives, to safeguard the Museum’s irreplaceable collections and other assets, and to help protect its own property and other properties in the Mission Canyon neighborhood in case of a fire originating in the lower part of the Canyon.
Q: How does the Master Plan Change the size of the Museum? top
A: The Museum buildings of the Proposed Plan will comprise a total of 121,000 sf.
The future Museum will feature a modest increase in “public space” (galleries, classrooms, visitor service amenities, etc.--for instance the planned “Naturalist Center” would allow visitors to actively explore and use Museum resources currently inaccessible, such as specimens from our collections). There will also be a modest growth of “non-public space” to accommodate growing collections and add a much-needed loading dock. The biggest growth in square footage will be in “support space” which is devoted to infrastructure such as restrooms, mechanical systems, hallways and elevators, etc., elements largely lacking in the existing facilities but mandated by civil codes and current museum standards. Because of the two-story design of the proposed new buildings, the perceived expansion of the footprint will only be about 6%.
Q: What will happen to the historic exhibit halls that remain? top
A: They will remain exhibit halls.
The Museum will rehabilitate the historic structures of merit (Mammal Hall, Cartwright Hall, Chumash/Gould Hall, Fleischmann Auditorium, the Library, and the original central courtyard buildings) to standards which will be in accord with local and federal guidelines. The rehabilitation will include retention of the historic fabric of the interior of these buildings. The legacy exhibit halls will continue to be exhibit halls, and the auditorium will continue to be used as a public meeting space.
Q: What will the new set of buildings look like? top
A: The architectural design for the new buildings has not yet been developed.
At this point, plans are still conceptual and have not yet progressed to the stage of addressing architectural design. The intent for the envisioned new buildings is that they be compatible with the historic structures as defined by the El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District Guidelines and the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines and the Museum’s location within the context of El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District Part II.
Q: How did the Museum go about developing this Master Plan? top
A: The Master Planning process has involved many people, steps, and meetings.
Recognizing the Museum’s position as a treasured community asset, planning work began with a determined effort to understand the role and mission of a natural history museum in our community in our time and in the decades to come. From the outset, the planning endeavor included the full Board, all staff, and a broad cross-section of community stakeholders.
In late 2008, the Museum completed a new Strategic Plan that is based on three Guiding Principles:
- Inspiring awe for nature and a thirst for discovery;
- Promoting sustainability; and
- Connecting our communities.
The Strategic Plan, in turn, is the foundation for planning the future of the physical campus needed to implement and support the goals of the Strategic Plan.
Master planning began with a broad-gauged analysis of current conditions of facilities and campus and studies of relevant context. The following studies and analyses were completed, and some are still ongoing:
- Current conditions analysis
- Historic Structures Evaluation
- Market analysis
- Traffic and parking study
- Geological/seismic study
- Stormwater management analysis
- Biological surveys and arborist assessments
- Structural, mechanical, and electrical systems analysis
- Landscape considerations
- Land use and urban planning
- Building codes
Q: Who is involved in developing the Museum’s Campus Master Plan? top
A: We have assembled a team of staff, Board members, and community representatives to develop the Master Plan.
Many people from various walks of life in the community have been involved in the development of the Museum’s Master Plan. The team includes Museum trustees, staff, volunteers, expert consultants, and community members. The primary team includes:
|Luke Swetland, President and CEO
Gary Robinson, Director of
Barbara Barker, Project Manager
Hank Chaney, Director of
Collections & Research
Caroline Grange, Director of
Heather Moffat, Director of
Education & Exhibits
Easter Moorman, Museum
Stephen M. Hicks
Walter Schacht, Architect
Susette Naylor, Architect
Suzanne Elledge, Planner
Pamela Post, Historian
Tim Hazeltine, Historian
Susan Van Atta, Landscape Designer
Scott Schell, Transportation Planner
Bill Spiewak, Arborist
Mark de la Garza, Bioresources
Earth Systems, Geotechnical Engineering
Q: What outreach efforts have the Museum undertaken to communicate the Master Plan to the community and invite input? top
A: We have held a number of outreach meetings with the community.
- October 15-30, 2008: Door-to-door interviews with the Museum’s most immediate neighbors
Knocked on 549 homes; talked with 248 neighbors
- February 19, 20 & 21, 2009: 3 Neighborhood Meetings
549 invitations mailed
- April 23 & 25, 2009: 2 Neighborhood Meetings
549 invitations mailed
- March 18 & 20, 2010: 2 Neighborhood Meetings
8,845 invitations mailed
- June 3 & 5, 2010: 2 Community Meetings
2,133 invitations mailed
- May 12 & 14, 2011: Community Meetings
2,577 invitations mailed
- July 20, 2011: Joint Review by Planning Commission and Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC)
- Paid public notices placed in the Santa Barbara News-Press, Santa Barbara Independent, and Independent.com
- Listings placed in community online calendars
Q: Will the Museum’s collections and research remain on the Mission Canyon campus? top
A: Yes. One of the goals of the Museum’s Strategic Plan is to achieve unity of purpose and operational synergy among the diverse programs of collections, research, exhibits, education, and public programs.
The collections and the scientists are an essential resource for all the other programs on a daily basis. The scientists take part in educational programs and are part of interdepartmental teams planning for future programs and exhibits. We use the collections on a daily basis, not only for exhibits, but for ongoing research and daily education programs. Moving the Museum’s collections and scientists off-site to another facility would be a great detriment to the Museum as a whole and would in the long-run make operations more costly and less sustainable.
Q: What will happen to the MacVeagh House? top
A: It will be relocated to another site on Museum property and restored.
The Museum proposes moving the MacVeagh House to a new site on land owned by the Museum on Puesta del Sol, immediately to the north of the historic Museum buildings.
Q: Is there a way to create better pedestrian access in the Mission Canyon corridor? top
A: The Museum is interested in improving pedestrian access in the area.
The Museum is collaborating with a group of stakeholders interested in improving safe passage for pedestrians and bicyclists along a corridor from the Rose Garden and the Old Mission to Rocky Nook Park, the Women’s Club, and the Museum. The group of stakeholders includes representatives of three adjacent neighborhoods (Mission Canyon, Riviera, Upper East Side) and adjacent landowners including both institutions and private individuals. The Museum is highly motivated to assist all efforts to create safe passage in this congested and unsafe corridor.
Q: Will I still be able to walk my dog(s) in the woodland area on the Museum’s property? top
A: Our plans are currently to allow dog walking activities with conditions.
One of the goals of the Master Plan is to maintain the woodland area as a managed, conserved nature space for education, research and public use. The Museum welcomes the public enjoyment of this space on its property, but does expect the public to keep their dog(s) leashed and under control, and to pick up after them as required by City and County ordinances.
Q: Will the Museum provide employee housing? top
A: The Museum currently has a policy of renting its residential properties to employees.
The Museum currently maintains seven housing units that are prioritized for employee rentals.
Q: Will the Museum build a café or restaurant? top
A: Yes. Responding to numerous requests by visitors, the Master Plan envisions a small café accessible to ticketed visitors.
The café would provide simple snacks to enable Museum visitors, particularly those with children, to extend their stay time rather than having to drive some distance to find refreshments.
Q: How sustainable will the Museum’s renovated campus be? top
A: We intend to achieve the highest level of sustainability possible.
It is the Museum’s intent to achieve in the rehabilitated facility the highest possible level of sustainability. While we hope to achieve LEED Platinum certification, our goal is less to attain a particular level of certification than to achieve measurable results. In this sense, the Museum is looking towards best practices among a number of sustainability programs: LEED Platinum, 2030 Challenge, Living Building Challenge, Labs 21 Standard, Sustainable Sites Initiative, and ASHRAE Standard 189.1P.
Q: What are the community benefits of the Museum’s Master Plan? top
A: There are several community benefits of the Museum’s Master Plan.
- Restoration of precious native habitats
- Rehabilitation of treasured historic resources
- Improved fire protection for Museum and neighborhood
- Improved storm water management for Museum site and neighborhood
- Improved educational, scientific, and community services enabled by better facilities
- A model of sustainability
Q: What is the timeline of the Museum’s Master Plan? top
A: We hope to have an approved Master Plan by late 2013 or early 2014.
The Museum submitted its applicant report to PRT (Pre-Application Review Team) in May 2011 and the Museum is still in the entitlement process. We hope to submit our formal application in 2013. Once the formal application is submitted, then the environmental review process begins. When the entitlement process is complete and the Museum has its approved Master Plan, the physical changes to the Museum’s campus will occur in phases.
Q: How long will it take to build? top
A: We don’t know yet.
We do not know how soon after receiving City approval of the plan construction would begin or how long it would take to complete. It is likely that the project will be implemented in phases, with quiet periods in between. The exact timing of the start and phasing is unknown at this time.
Q: I missed the joint review on July 20, 2011 by the Planning Commission and Historic Landmarks Commission. How do I get more information about this meeting? top
A: An archived video copy of the July 20, 2011 meeting is viewable on computers with high speed internet access.
Go online to www.santabarbaraca.gov/hlc and then click “Meeting Videos" and scroll down to July 20, 2011 and click on "Video."
Q: I have a question, concern or suggestion for the Museum. Who should I contact? top
A: Call the Museum’s Master Planning Team with any questions or concerns at 805-682-4711 ext. 178.
The Museum hopes that the end result of the Master Plan is a positive transformation of the campus which provides the space and facilities that allow the Museum to serve the community through exhibits, education, research, and community programs for the next 100 years. The Museum values the community’s input and participation as it goes through the Master Planning process. For more information:
> Go online to www.sbnature.org/masterplan.
> Call 805-682-4711 ext. 117.
> Mail a note/letter to 2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 ATTN: SBMNH-Master Plan.
> Attend a community meeting. The Museum will update its Master Plan website and online calendar with the date(s) of the next meeting(s). Please be sure to add your name to the Master Plan Update Mailing (or Email) List.
- To be added to the Master Plan Update Mailing List, please call 805-682-4711 ext. 178 and leave a message
with your name and complete mailing address with zip code.
-To be added to the Master Plan Update Email List, please send an email with your first and last name and the
subject line “Add Me to List” to SBMNHmasterplan@sbnature2.org.