Citing concerns about parking, the Santa Maria City Council sent a plan for a four-story, mixed use building at Broadway and Main streets back to the drawing board. 

The move all but guarantees that the plan presented Tuesday night is no more.

“I think it would be a serious mistake if we do this. It has too many negatives for me and it all centers around the parking,” Councilman Mike Cordero said.

Developer Ben Nikfarjam now has the option of working with the Community Development Department to create a project with more parking. Had the council denied the project outright, it would have sparked an appeal or reapplication process that could have taken years. 

Nikfarjam was seeking approval on plans to build the structure that Santa Maria Community Development Department leaders thought would be a catalyst for growth downtown.

The 0.3-acre site is currently home to a vacant speaker shop.

Nikfarjam’s plan, which was formulated with the help of the Community Development Department and last month received approval from the city’s Planning Commission, included building 4,100 square feet of commercial space on the structure’s first floor, enough space for up to three commercial tenants. The second floor would have been office or residential space; and the third and fourth floors were exclusively residential.

According to city officials, Nikfarjam intended to build the second floor for residential use, which would create a total of 31 apartment units ranging in size from 468 to 990 square feet.

Most of the units would have been one-bedroom apartments with some two-bedroom units and potentially three-bedrooms could be available.

Councilmen Jack Boysen and Michael Moats spoke out in favor of the plan. The rest of the council, including Cordero, Etta Waterfield and Mayor Alice Patino, were concerned about the lack of parking associated with the venture.

The plan called for only 12 parking spaces, which would not be for the building’s residents but first-floor commercial tenants.

Santa Maria Principal Planner Neda Zayer said in her report to the council that the residents would be directed to park in one of the free public parking opportunities less than 500 feet from the project -- across Main Street at the public parking garage at Town Center East; the large public parking lot at Town Center West; and a public lot behind the project at West Chapel and Lincoln streets.

“This is a project that needs to happen in our downtown. We need to put this seed on our true gateway property right there in downtown,” Boysen said.

“Civilization has changed. Most of us qualify for Medicare. We are not going to be the type of folks that will be utilizing this type of residential facility,” he added, motioning to the rest of the Santa Maria City Council.

The potential residential tenants would opt to walk, use ride-sharing applications or bicycles instead of driving, he said. Traditional grocery shopping has changed, with websites like offering next-day delivery for many grocery needs, he added.

Cordero was not convinced.

“This is a residential building at Main and Broadway. I don’t think that it belongs there. This is a commercial area,” he said.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.