County of Santa Barbara Releases Proposed Zoning Map to Meet Future Housing Needs

By the County of Santa Barbara

The Planning and Development Department invites the public to review the proposed zoning interactive map (available here) and attend upcoming workshops on County housing needs and opportunities.  

The County of Santa Barbara’s Planning and Development Department recently released an interactive map showing areas of the county that are under consideration for rezoning as part of the County’s Housing Element update. Viewers are able to see the different areas of the County where sites may be rezoned, and can type in their address to see potential rezones and currently-proposed housing projects in the community.

In some cases, the type of development that is currently allowed on properties may change. The County is considering zoning changes to allow residential instead of commercial uses on certain properties and allowing both commercial and residential uses in commercial zones.  The interactive map displays 45 sites throughout the unincorporated county that are identified as potential rezones. The map shows more potential rezones than are needed to meet the State’s housing requirements, and will provide County decision-makers flexibility in determining the sites to be rezoned. 

The public is encouraged to provide input on the potential rezones by attending either of the upcoming Housing Element Workshops. All are welcome to attend the public workshops either in person or remotely through Zoom. Spanish language interpretation will be available both in-person and on Zoom.

North County Housing Element Workshop
When: Wednesday, November 16, 2022, beginning at 6:00 PM
Where: Santa Barbara County Board Hearing Room, Betteravia Center
511 Lakeside Pkwy Santa Maria, CA 93455
South Coast Housing Element Workshop
    When: Thursday, November 17, 2022, beginning at 6:00 PM
Where: Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Hearing Room
123 E Anapamu St. Santa Barbara, CA 93101

During these in-person and online sessions, you will learn about the process to update the Housing Element, the work completed to date, and important information related to regional housing needs within the county’s unincorporated areas. The workshops will also include a facilitated discussion where you can share your ideas about opportunities to inform policies and strategies related to housing.

 The workshop on Wednesday, November 16th will be held in Santa Maria and will also discuss potential housing opportunity sites in North County unincorporated communities (Orcutt, Mission Hills, Santa Ynez, and New Cuyama).  

The workshop on Wednesday, November 17th will be held in Santa Barbara and will discuss potential housing opportunity sites in South Coast unincorporated communities (Goleta Valley and Carpinteria Valley).  

Please check the Housing Element webpage for updates.


Written by Anonymous

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    • Huh? She’s not on the BOS yet! This is the work of still Supervisor Gregg Hart and his planning director LisaPlowman. It’s a tragedy in the making that neither the county nor the city have stood up and fought these mandates that will destroy the livability of Santa Barbara, the qualities that have distinguished it.

  1. It’s interesting to see how this map highlights different properties for consideration. In many cases, individual properties were selected for study, surrounded by other properties that were not selected. When the county rezones a property to allow a large housing development, the change adds considerable value to the property and can provide the owner with a substantial financial gain that is not similarly provided to neighboring property owners. In fact, applying restrictive zoning requirements to neighboring properties adds to the gain won by the lucky, or savvy, property owner who is able to get a favorable rezoning. This creates a natural incentive for property owners to try to win the support of the officials in charge of rezoning in order to convince them to get a favorable zoning change. Therefore, I think the process of picking the winning properties should be subject to heightened scrutiny. Ideally, an objective standard for rezoning should be established that applies equally to everyone. As it is, I think it would be worth taking a close look at who is granted the financial windfall of a favorable change and how they managed to be selected to win it.

  2. These are new statewide housing laws and no city is exempt from them.
    NIMBY cities, watch out. California is cracking down on jurisdictions that make it too hard to build much-needed housing, and the Newsom administration’s latest target is San Francisco — the liberal city that may be the NIMBYist of them all.
    Last week the state’s Housing and Community Development Department announced its first-ever “housing policy and practice review” to analyze why it’s so hard to build homes in San Francisco. The city has the longest timeline in the state for approving housing projects. From application to permit, it takes an average of 974 days for a development to get approved, according to self-reported data from the city.
    That cumbersome process is one reason why San Francisco has among the highest construction and housing costs, and why state housing regulators have received more complaints about the city than any other jurisdiction in the state.
    The review will examine why San Francisco’s approval process takes so long, which projects get approved or denied and why, and what barriers are preventing the development of low- and moderate-income housing. The analysis will be conducted by the new Housing Accountability Unit, which Newsom created last year to put teeth behind state laws aimed at boosting housing production, protecting rent-controlled units and reducing racial segregation. If the review finds that San Francisco is breaking state law, details about the violations will be sent to the state attorney general’s Housing Strike Force.
    The result of all this work could be legally enforceable commitments to improve San Francisco’s processes and boost housing production, such as streamlined reviews and deadlines to approve projects. It could also create a template for development reform that other cities can follow, and an example of what might happen if they don’t.
    San Francisco is an easy target because of its astronomical housing costs due to pricey real estate and city building restrictions, and the bare-knuckle fights over housing that often result in elected leaders saying “no” to new developments on flimsy grounds. In recent years, city officials have rejected a 63-unit apartment complex because it would cast an evening shadow over an adjacent park, and blocked a proposal to convert a Nordstrom valet parking lot into 500 units of new housing.
    But there are plenty of cities that make it far too hard to build homes and could easily be in the crosshairs of the Housing Accountability Unit.
    For decades, there have been no significant penalties for cities that flouted their obligation to plan and build enough housing to meet population demands. The state took a hands-off approach, deeming development a local control issue. As a result, too many cities were allowed to ignore their housing responsibilities and bend to slow-growth, “not in my backyard” opposition.
    Now California is dealing with the consequences. The housing shortage is at the heart of the state’s biggest problems, including homelessness, poverty, income inequality, clogged freeways and pollution from long commutes. California needs to add between 1.8 million and 2.5 million homes by 2025 to ease the shortage that has driven up rents and home prices.
    Yet, even now with the effects of the housing shortage glaringly obvious, some cities continue to put up barriers to housing construction, including market-rate, mixed-income and affordable projects. The obstinance is especially galling in wealthy communities, such as Atherton in the Bay Area, where residents may bemoan the lack of housing construction elsewhere or donate to charities to address the fallout from the housing shortage, but refuse to make room for more homes in their own cities.
    Newsom and his housing regulators are right to crack down on housing obstructionist cities. It’s long overdue and the state cannot afford to let communities stop or slow-walk construction. San Francisco may be the target now, but other cities should be next.

  3. And this story about Redondo Beach failing to meet the requirements of the housing element:
    Redondo Beach’s Housing Element Failed. Now a Developer Is Planning 2,300 Residential Units.
    Anti-housing development planning now has consequences in California.
    Garth Meyer reports for Easy Reader on a notable departure from an anti-development tradition in the Southern California beach town of Redondo Beach, where a developer has proposed the development of 2,300 residential units, hotels, and offices on a 50-acre site that formerly housed an AES power plant.
    The development proposal is made possible by state laws requiring local governments to make accommodations for allotted housing construction in the local housing element of the general plan through the every-eight-years process called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). As documented by Diana Ionescu for Planetizen in April 2022, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has a new mandate to enforce the requirements for local governments to complete a new housing element every eight years, enacted by a state law approved in 1969.
    Redondo Beach was one of a handful of cities to run afoul of HCD regulators by under-planning for new housing—a club that includes nearby Los Angeles and Santa Monica (although Los Angeles has since rectified its position with state regulators). Nowadays, failing the RHNA test comes with the consequence of losing local control over some land use approvals. Redondo Beach is currently discovering the consequences of their inaction.
    More details on the proposed development and the state laws that precipitated this historic moment in Redondo Beach and California development history can be found in an article by Steven Sharp for Urbanize LA. “Pustilnikov is also pursuing vesting rights under SB 330, which would preserve his ability to develop the property in the event that the City of Redondo Beach is able to obtain state certification of its housing element,” adds Sharp.
    More on California’s crackdown on housing scofflaws can be found in this August editorial published by the Los Angeles Times.

  4. This mandate that communities plan for more housing development is coming down from Governor Newsom and our State Legislature. I think it’s empty political rhetoric….heavy on the vision and the goal, light on resolving the details to make it happen successfully. Promote housing development but eliminate parking requirements for developers, so where will all the cars go? Promote housing development but rely on wishful thinking and hope that our dwindling water supply sources will somehow magically replenish themselves to support new and current users? Promote more housing and electric vehicles by 2035, but we’re supposed to conserve our electricity use between 4-9 pm because our electric grid can’t handle the load now, in 2022? I guess our legislators are hoping that we trust them to achieve their housing goal AND resolve their disconnects with reality. I suggest we each go to our legislator, shake his/her hand, ask them these questions, and don’t let go until they give you a straight answer.

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