July 21, 2024

Rezoning Property for Housing Getting Increased Santa Barbara County Scrutiny | Local News

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider whether to require more affordable housing for very low- and low-income households as part of its discussion on rezoning agricultural, commercial and other sites slated for housing.

County staff and some supervisors have proposed rezoning agricultural land to build housing, but most of the units would be market-rate, and not necessarily for people who commute in and out of the area for jobs.

The county, as part of rezoning land, will consider whether to require developers to build below-market rate units beyond the current 20% standard.

Identifying sites for housing development is part of the Housing Element Update, which the county and local cities have been working on for months.

“My No. 1 priority throughout this entire Housing Element process is affordability, especially as we’ve witnessed rents and real estate skyrocket by over 30% in the past few years,” Second District Supervisor Laura Capps told Noozhawk.

“Lower- and middle-income people are struggling. The high cost of housing and how it creates and exacerbates so many other challenges — including poverty, workforce retention and transportation — is the most urgent issue facing our county.”

Capps also said the county should convert much of its own underutilized land into affordable housing.

The county approved its 2023-2031 Housing Element on Dec. 5 and will now decide which properties to rezone to build housing.

County officials are most interested in rezoning properties with owners who want to pursue residential development.

Based on current projections, the county has a shortfall of 2,151 lower-income units throughout the county and of 857 moderate-income units on the South Coast.

The State of California has mandated that the county find land to build 5,664 new housing units throughout the county for the current eight-year cycle, 2023-2031.

There must be enough residentially zoned land to fulfill state-mandated development goals, but the units won’t necessarily be built.

The county Planning Commission will consider and make recommendations on which sites should be rezoned early this year, and the Board of Supervisors will be holding meetings to make final decisions on rezones in the spring.

On Tuesday, the board will consider its rezoning criteria to guide those discussions and decisions.

The county has released a Balancing Act tool, which is a map-based application allowing people to choose from the sites that the board will consider.

Two maps are available for people to utilize the Balancing Act tool, one for the South Coast region, available here, and one for the North County region, available here. The application includes instructions for using the tool.

“The Balancing Act tool lets the public put themselves in the board’s shoes,” said Lisa Plowman, director of the Planning & Development Department. “It’s a complex calculation; there are overall unit requirements in both north and south, and there are also affordability requirements across three income categories.

“Balancing Act does the math while you select or deselect sites.”

People also can choose to submit their plan, which will then be reviewed and presented to the Board of Supervisors during rezoning hearings.

The Board of Supervisors meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Board Hearing Room at the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

The meeting also can be viewed virtually through the county’s YouTube channel or on the county’s website.

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