The H.O.T. Principles
Planning for Housing, Open space and Transportation in Santa Barbara County
by Santa Barbara County Action Network
- Housing is an environmental issue that affects and is affected by the community’s open space needs and resources.
- Open space availability is determined not only by natural geography, but also by land use decisions made in relation to housing and transportation.
- Transportation planning makes sense only when it is focused on the places where people live and work.
- There is a crisis with respect to the availability of affordable housing for low income residents and for the middle class workforce.
- There is a crisis regarding the potential loss of open space and agricultural lands both within and outside urban limits, as commercial and residential development continues.
- There is a crisis of increased vehicular traffic as more cars and trucks crowd existing transportation corridors — while funding for alternative transportation remains sparse and governmental policies continue to prioritize and subsidize auto traffic, at the expense of other means of circulation.
- Market rate housing development should be questioned as a matter of course. New housing development can only be justified if it helps low income and working people live in this community.
- Development should be planned in accordance with environmental values that respect the need to preserve open space and agricultural uses. The development of needed housing should occur in a manner that conserves significant wildlife habitat, conserves land and preserves natural resources. Housing should not be placed on land now important for environmental values and agricultural use. Within the urban limit line, viable agricultural land should be considered for affordable housing only if other appropriate alternatives have been exhausted.
- New housing must become the basis for community improvement, not decline. Adequate infrastructure, e.g., police, fire, schools, parks, water, sewer capacities, transportation, etc. must be part of a comprehensive planning approach to development, and guarantees that necessary infrastructure or mitigations for them are implemented must be enforced.
- Existing affordable housing, e.g., rental units that are occupied by low to moderate income households, should be protected from processes of gentrification.
- Housing development should be considered in conjunction with the use of alternative modes of transit. We seek to promote the kind of responsible, efficient and compact development that is transit-oriented and preserves green space.
- Good design maximizes open space and agricultural potentials, even on housing sites.
- “Green” building techniques and low impact landscaping should be utilized to the maximum possible extent.
- Affordable housing should stay affordable, in virtual perpetuity. Mechanisms to achieve permanent affordability such as cooperative ownership of apartments (rather than individually-owned condominiums) should be fostered by government policies and encouraged with government-sponsored loan programs. Mixed use, second units and other concepts of housing development that utilize already developed land should be emphasized.
- Rental housing should be a priority over home purchase, in filling low income housing needs.
- Inclusionary zoning should not be utilized as a primary or even significant method of increasing the supply of affordable housing. Methods that should be relied on include seeking subsidies from government agencies and employers, zoning overlays, and the exploration of other revenue sources such as real estate transfer fees.
- Land use planning should aim to preserve the ecological integrity and aesthetic quality of open space, environmentally sensitive areas, and land used for farming.
- Development should be contained within the urban limit line and avoid sprawl.
- Development potentials should be acquired from landowners through the “transfer of development rights” (TDR) process, to preserve their ability to continue with farming and ranching activities while preserving agriculture and open space.
- The rural character of areas outside urban zones should be protected from residential and related development that is out of scale or incompatible with surrounding uses.
- Zoning changes that erode the long-term viability of agriculture should be limited.
- Ecologically important open space should be preserved in perpetuity. Mechanisms for achieving this might include “open space districts”, as well as other for publicly acquiring and conserving open land.
- Collaborative watershed-scale planning approaches and management tools should be integrated across agencies at all levels to more effectively address the range of ecosystem protection issues in coastal watersheds.
- Investment and planning should aim to reduce congestion, pollution, and nonrenewable energy.
- Housing should be sited near job and school sources.
- Transportation resources should be reallocated toward making mass transit, pedestrian and bike alternatives accessible and convenient.
- Planning should emphasize compact transit-oriented development.
- We must strive to re-create or maintain a jobs/housing balance within the geographically distinct areas of our County, to reduce the need for long commuting and the negative impacts it creates on traffic, the environment, and employees’ quality of life. (The south coast of Santa Barbara County is an example of what we mean by a “geographically distinct area.”)