Affordable and Workforce Housing
SB CAN advocates for affordable and workforce housing within urban limit lines, near jobs and transportation centers. The development of needed housing should occur in a manner that conserves significant wildlife habitat, conserves land and preserves natural resources. We seek to promote the kind of responsible, efficient and compact development that is transit-oriented and preserves green space. “Green” building techniques and low impact landscaping should be utilized to the maximum possible extent.
2008 Housing Projects
Affordable Housing with Mental Health Support Services
As a member of the General Fund Fairness Campaign, SB CAN, along with other community activists, urged County Supervisors not to cut funding for the Alchohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services Department (ADMHS), which provides low cost housing for people who need mental health services. Studies show that permanent housing with supportive services is more cost effective than "housing" local residents in high service facilities like the jail, emergency room, psychiatric health facilities, or institutes for mental disease. In June, the Board of Supervisors voted to restore funding for ADMHS services.
Santa Barbara Height Initiative
SB CAN has resolved to oppose the Height Limit Initiative should it come to ballot. Affordable housing often requires a higher number of units per acre, and the proposed limit would prevent such development. In addition, density within the urban core discourages sprawl into undeveloped areas and encourages a non-car-centirc culture by creating a more vibrant and walkable downtown. However, we support efforts to formulate compromise or alternative measures that would provide for height limitation with exceptions for projects of public benefit, including the provision of affordable housing.
UCSB-Long Range Development Plan
While we applaud the university for housing their own growth, we believe that there are significant flaws and problems that have been overlooked, and solution/mitigation measures that have not been sufficiently explored.
The following are some issues raised by SB CAN:
1. Insufficient justification for an additional 5000 students.( A key alternative project would involve a 3000 student increase)
2. Overlooking the replacement of 550 faculty in the plan, in addition to the calculated 250 new faculty.
3. UCSB water demand exceeds the known availability of water. Equally important, the plan would result in indirect growth effects that would unavoidably increase the jobs/housing imbalance in this region. It would also unavoidably worsen traffic in the surrounding area.
4. Housing plan and the construction of housing is not concurrent with the timeline for the expected growth.
5. The jobs/housing imbalance increases commuting. The EIR woefully misestimates these effects by describing on 6.0-5 commuting increases from out of county, not accounting for the main commuting population which travels to the south coast from north county.
6. Returning to the smaller enrollment growth alternative, we were disappointed to see that this alterative was coupled with a reduction in the estimates of campus housing development. Another alternative not mentioned would be to retain the housing plans of the existing LRDP with a reduction in new enrollment and staff hires. This alternative if it were adopted would allow the university to house a not only all newly added students, staff and faculty but provide affordable housing options for existing faculty, staff, undergraduates and graduate students. It might also provide an opportunity for the university to offer retired faculty and staff housing options that would open up further housing in the wider community.
2003-2008 Housing Element: Focused Rezones for Affordable Housing
The hearing was continued the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 27, 2009.
2007 Housing Projects
Veronica Meadows Project in Santa Barbara
In January 2007, SB CAN supported a lawsuit filed by Citizens Planning Association (CPA) against City of Santa Barbara and the owners of the proposed Veronica Meadows luxury housing project along Las Positas Road and Arroyo Burro in Santa Barbara. The lawsuit was based on concerns that not all reasonable and feasible project alternatives were adequately explored or mitigated, thus causing unnecessary impacts on the creek environment and traffic in this heavily impacted corridor in Las Positas Valley.
In addition, SB CAN was concerned that the community would be subject to significant adverse impacts for the sake of expensive multi-million-dollar homes that the City had no obligation to approve. SB CAN is committed to supporting projects that provide more of the workforce and low-income housing that our community really needs while addressing corresponding environmental and transportation issues. There is no shortage of luxury housing in our county to justify the negative impacts posed by this project.
The 2003-2008 Housing Element
SB CAN recognizes that the County is facing a crisis with respect to the availability of affordable housing for low income residents. That’s why we support the state’s housing mandate that requires enough high-density zoning to meet the county’s need for affordable housing. However, we also recognize that affordable housing needs to be built across the county near job and transportation centers. That’s why we opposed the County’s plan in 2007 to locate all of the affordable housing rezones needed to satisfy the State’s Housing Mandate in the north county, with five of those sites in Orcutt. That’s why we also had serious concerns about the County’s new plan to satisfy that affordable housing need in Isla Vista. Finding a solution to the housing crisis will not be easy, but the quick fixes that the County proposes, which satisfies the State’s mandates but fails to supply the housing where it’s needed, are unacceptable. The low-income families that support our local tourist, service, and agriculture industries deserve better than that.
Village Centers and the Fiscalizaion of Land Use
One of the County’s quick-fix plans to solve the affordable housing crisis and bring in needed revenue is the cultivation of “Village Centers”—that is, building brand new towns in the middle of nowhere that includes mixed-use housing, commercial districts, and a hotel. “North Hills,” a proposed development in the hills south of Orcutt, fits that village concept. If approved it would have created 7500 new housing units on agricultrally-zoned land that also supports dozens of operating oil wells. SB CAN opposed the development of this project which threatens agriculture, contributes to urban sprawl, and creates safety hazards. That development is now on hold, but plans for new “villages” are popping up all over the county, including a proposed development east of Lompoc and another east of Santa Maria. Creating urban sprawl and threatening agricultural resources is not the way to solve a housing crisis or pad the county coffers.
Finding Common Ground
In 2007 SB CAN joined with other environmental organizations and developers to create a Common Grounds Coalition in Santa Barbara. Since then we have been working to create sound policy for increasing affordable and workforce housing in the south, near job and transportation centers.