After seven years of stubborn silence and relative inactivity, the Bellosguardo Foundation seems to be taking its first steps towards opening the palace of the late Huguette Clark to the public.
The Foundation was formed in 2014 and officially took possession of the property in 2017, but in addition to hosting a Gatsby the magnificent– themed fundraising gala and a few private tours, he made no real progress in transforming the historic 27-room mansion and its 23 acres of well-tended grounds into a modern community center to promote the arts, as Clark, an avid art collector herself, dictated in her will.
Foundation president Jeremy Lindaman submitted a request to the Santa Barbara City Planning Division in March, saying the organization would like to start offering small tours and hosting special events. In order to install the necessary ramps, portable toilet trailers and approximately 90 parking spaces, Lindaman is seeking the city’s conditional use and coastal development permits.
Although planning staff said they were “broadly in favor” of the proposal, according to their written response to Lindaman, they took issue with the lack of detail in his application and deemed it “incomplete”. How many guests would there be on each tour, they asked? How often would the tours take place? At what hours of the day? Would a shuttle service be offered to those parked off-site? How many docents would be employed? Would any of them live in the field? How often would the events take place and how many people would they attend? Etc. “You didn’t answer any of our questions directly,” the staff said.
Even basic information about the ramps and toilets was omitted, staff noted. “The plans for the project would benefit from being better organized, especially with regard to the location of the proposed ramps and toilets,” they said. “We don’t know how many ramps are available and where they would be located.”
Lindaman – who, according to the Foundation’s latest tax records, receives a salary of $ 120,000 – was given the opportunity to amend and resubmit his application. It is not known if or when he plans to do so. In a previous hearing before the Historic Monuments Commission, Lindaman briefly discussed other vague ideas for Bellosguardo, including “the potential addition of structures.”
Since his appointment, Lindaman has pledged more than once to hold “press events” to publicly expose the nonprofit organization’s long-term strategic plans for its $ 85 million in assets, including fundraising campaigns and potential partnerships with arts organizations. So far none of these events have materialized and Lindaman has refused repeated requests for interviews.
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