ADU's Authorized in High Fire Areas
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 www.CalMatters.org 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.