ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

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By Denice Spangler Adams

Deferring to newly elected City Council Rep Kristen Sneddon, Santa Barbara Council voted 4:1 (Rowse opposed) to allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) of up to 1200sf on the Riviera, and lower Riviera, within defined High Fire Areas with narrow winding streets and only 2 exits off the hill. JADUs are now allowed in all Extreme Fire Areas. 

Rep Sneddon pointed out there is no turning back after the train has left. She is satisfied 4000 constituents on the Riviera are safe when the next fire or disaster hits based on preliminary representations from the City’s Fire Marshall, contrary to other analysis submitted to Council.

Property owners may now apply for and get a permit for up to 1 dwelling unit each.  Approximately, 14,000 total new dwelling units can be added to the City of which 2,000 ADUs are estimated within the Riviera’s High Fire Area.

Approvals and permit issuance are ministerial taking only 120 days presently. After anticipated passage of SB831 by 8/18/18, effective 1/1/2019 the entire process cannot exceed 60 days for building permit issuance, nor will owner occupancy be required. 

Tuesday the Council voted for an owner occupancy requirement in perpetuity, regardless of property rights,  but a pending state mandate overrides all local decisions except for those related to health, safety, and water supply. These are the only 3 reasons to disallow ADUs from being developed. 

Safety is a major factor in the Foothills and beyond as addressed consistently for 10 months by former Mayor Sheila Lodge, and myself as a West Montecito resident,  evacuated   3 times in 9 years with only minutes notice during the Tea Fire. “You cannot go upstream to get your 4th grader, with all lanes headed down the hill. You can only pray someone jams your child in their car.” Newly elected District Rep Sneddon was either unprepared for the vote or doing as instructed by her local and Sacramento handlers. She was visually confused contradicting herself often during deliberations.

The Tea Fire took less than 10 minutes to get from above Mountain Drive to Hwy 192 in 2008. Over 600 Westmont students had to be huddled in the gym surrounded by flames, spared by the grace of God & determined firefighters as the fire reached the campus within minutes. Every Westmont driver crammed as many as possible into vehicles including children downhill at Cold Spring School.  210 homes were lost. A miracle that no lives were lost due to quick thinking and access to Westmont’s Gym.

City Council Representatives were advised not to approve any additional units on the Riviera for safety reasons presented in this report by UCSB Prof Emerita Helen Couclelis. It notes only 2 escapes routes with one a 160-degree switchback turn near the Mission making evacuation uncertain.

Mission Creek does not allow ADUs. Montecito has a moratorium on future projects due to high public work priorities including bridges and RE-mapping.

Go to to see by zip code how many homes have been cashed out since 2008. 1/3 of Eastside has been cashed out possibly by investors waiting on less restrictions and higher density bonuses from pending state housing mandates up to 8-stories. Traditional family homebuyers will be squeezed out of local markets.

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Factotum Apr 19, 2018 02:46 PM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

Agree, this public safety breach makes no sense. Did the city fire marshal in fact defer to the desire for more revenue growth that some think will come with cramming more people within our city limits. City fire personnel are already the highest paid workers we have in this city. Bluntly speaking, was the desire to fund even greater fire personnel compensation behind this irresponsible recommendation to city council? It makes no sense to allow up to 2000 more residents into this already vulnerable city neighborhood. Thank you for the vivid examples illustrating how bad this will be in the next evacuation emergency.

a-1524194094 Apr 19, 2018 08:14 PM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

And how do we get prevent the state from imposing unwanted density on our city? The whole situation is a mess, and quite dispiriting.

Factotum Apr 20, 2018 09:16 AM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

You stop electing local representatives to the state government who have done this to you: Das Williams, Monique Limon and Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Factotum Apr 20, 2018 09:15 AM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

A local explained to me many UCSB grads don't want to leave this area, have no productive skills needed by the local economy and yet demand someone else subsidize their desire to stay put. That is why producing "affordable housing" on demand is a fool's errand.

pii Apr 20, 2018 07:33 AM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

That is 2000 more ADUs, so the number of people can be double that.
Local governance, whether city, county or state, becomes more and more impotent as big governments flex their muscles.

a-1524235566 Apr 20, 2018 07:46 AM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

Adding more ADUs is how you make Santa Barbara more affordable. It's the old law of supply and demand. More available units lowers the demand, and drives down rental prices. Very simple.....but this does not work in Santa Barbara. More units just means more people who cannot afford to live here will live here, and will complain until the end of time that they cannot afford to live here. Murillo will set things right though....I hope!

Factotum Apr 20, 2018 09:13 AM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

You confuse subsidized housing by calling it affordable housing. Anyone who pays market rate for housing here has found it affordable. You on the other hand are asking for something quite different. Santa Barbara housing is affordable. But perhaps not to your own skill set and ability to live here. But there is plenty of housing for you within a reasonable commuting distance or manufactured housing well within city limits.

Bob Wilson Apr 21, 2018 05:11 PM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

You could build 50,000 units and Santa Barbara will never be affordable. All you’ll do in the process is ruin our community. Common sense logic seems to be a rare commodity these days.

CivilEngineer Apr 20, 2018 09:54 AM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

Maybe we'll get lucky and won't have any more fires in the Santa Barbara foothills. We're due for some luck.

Potif Apr 26, 2018 03:14 PM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

Not sure I would depend on that. It's a wonderful wish though. And, I hope there aren't anymore fires in the foothills, at least in my lifetime.

richyrich Apr 20, 2018 10:07 AM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

This is great! Pulling a permit within the next three months! I'm going to rent it out and that should cover half my mortgage. Growth happens people! If you don't like it maybe you should stay off the freeway for me OK?

a-1524259432 Apr 20, 2018 02:23 PM
ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas

Will Reps say no to Sac ? Or does Factotum have it right: more revenues, higher pay, shorter work weeks, bigger pensions? Who cares? Nor many.

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