County Releases Housing Element Draft

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By Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County continues to move forward with the Housing Element Update for 2023-2031.  The County completed the draft Housing Element on January 30, 2023.  A copy of it can be found

Completion of the draft kicks off a formal 30-day public comment period.  During this time the community is encouraged to formally review and submit their comments on the Housing Element by going to

The Housing Element Update is one of the mandated components of a General Plan.  It directs local governments to plan for the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community.

County staff has been working with the community on this Housing Element Update for the past year, holding in-person, virtual workshops, and individual meetings. The County’s goal is to submit a high-quality Housing Element that has the unincorporated communities’ best interest in mind.

For this cycle, the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) requires that Santa Barbara County identify land to accommodate 5,664 new housing units in unincorporated portions of Santa Barbara County between 2023 and 2031. That housing need allocation, the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), is further broken down to require 4,142 units in the South Coast region and 1,522 units in North County, and includes mandated affordability criteria.

To satisfy State HCD’s requirements, the County has inventoried current capacity and is proposing to meet the balance of the requirement in a number of different means, including by rezoning properties that meet State HCD’s requirements in order to increase the availability of housing opportunities.  The County went above and beyond these requirements to reach out to owners of identified potential rezone sites to ensure they were receptive to rezoning.

The Housing Element update process will occur in two steps.  The first is updating data, policies and programs, and identifying a range of sites that will be considered for rezones.  After the public comment period, the draft Element will be reviewed by the State.  Once the State finds the Element to be generally in compliance, the updated Housing Element will be adopted.  The second step in the process includes refinement of the rezone sites and the preparation of a programmatic environmental impact report assessing potential impacts associated with the proposed rezones needed to meet the County’s RHNA.  The rezones will be then be considered by decision makers after the adoption of the Housing Element Update. 

The deadline for the County’s Housing Element to be completed and determined by State HCD to substantially comply with requirements is February 15, 2023.  Due to the complexity of this cycle, unforeseen staffing shortages, the large amount of housing units to accommodate (8 fold-higher than last cycle), and the new required public input period, the County is on track to submit the first draft of its Housing Element to State HCD in March 2023.  The rezones are required to be completed by February 15, 2024.

The County continues to welcome and encourage public involvement and comments up until the Housing Element Update’s anticipated adoption by the Board later in 2023.

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salsa guy Jan 31, 2023 06:49 PM
County Releases Housing Element Draft

Who in SB County wrote this fluff piece? The SBC building and planning department failed miserably. The had 8 years to get his done. They really started working on it in June or July. They have put the entire county planning department at risk of losing control over housing projects. If they say otherwise they are lying or ignorant.

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