County Releases Revised Draft Housing Element

By the County of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara County will formally submit a revised Draft Housing Element Update (Draft HEU) to the State Housing and Community Development Department (State HCD) for their consideration on September 22, 2023. The Draft HEU is posted on the County’s Housing Element website for the State-mandated seven-day posting period: September 14 – 21, 2023.

The County has been working on revisions to the Draft HEU to ensure that it meets all of the State’s requirements.  Pursuant toGovernment Code Section 65585(b)(1), the County must “post the draft revision on its internet website and shall email a link to the draft revision to all individuals and organizations that have previously requested notices relating to the local government’s housing element at least seven days before submitting the draft revision to [State HCD].”

The County’s seven-day posting period is September 14 – 21, 2023. The County will formally submit a revised Draft HEU to State HCD fortheir consideration on September 22, 2023. The revised draft can be found at; all revisions are tracked in the Housing Element Update documents.

The County continues to work with State HCD to ensure that it finds our Draft HEU in substantial compliance with State law. The notable revisions include 1) the addition of a new program (Program 25) to ensure equitable access to services and resources, particularly in the disadvantaged communities in the county, and 2) as directed by State HCD, assumptions of lower-income housing on larger sites on the South Coast (San Marcos Growers 1 and 2, Glen Annie, and Giorgi) were reduced from 50% of the total units to a maximum of 300 total lower-income units each.

The County submitted the draft housing element to the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) for review on March 31, 2023.  After receiving preliminary comments from the State during their 90-day review period, the County submitted revisions to address the State’s comments on June 30, 2023. Those revisions were primarily clean-up and clarifications.

“Our team has worked very hard to produce a draft that we believe meets State HCD criteria and the County’s needs,” said Director of Planning and Development Lisa Plowman.

The County hopes State HCD will find the Draft HEU in substantial compliance during this round of review. State HCD has 60 days to review the revisions.

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.

For this cycle, State HCD requires that Santa Barbara County identify sites to accommodate 5,664 new housing units in unincorporated portions of Santa Barbara County between 2023 and 2031.  This is an 8-fold increase from the last cycle. That housing needs 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.

The State requires the County’s Housing Element to accommodate 2,818 very low, low- and moderate-income units.  The new public and private sites following the public comment period added nearly 1,200 units in these categories.  

An interactive map showing all the potential housing sites can be found at,

Once the State finds the Housing Element to be generally in compliance, the updated Housing Element will move through the public hearing process including review by the Planning Commission and adoption by the Board of Supervisors later in 2023. 

The next steps in the process include refinement of the rezone sites and the preparation of a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) assessing potential impacts associated with the proposed rezones needed to meet the County’s RHNA. The next opportunity for public participation will be during the public comment period on the Draft PEIR. The Department will hold two public comment hearings; one in north county and one in south county.  


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  1. Seems like SB county is bending over backwards to accommodate the building industry and their minions in Sacramento pushing these mandates on local communities. Newsom wants to gut CEQA. A recent projection shows LA county losing population while SB county increases by 20%. Something is very wrong with all of this.

  2. I can’t believe Glenn Annie Golf Course is even being considered! Who in their right mind is coming up with this stuff? Taking away from the community a family friendly, healthy, outdoor activity to build low income, high density housing in an area that already has some of the worst traffic in Goleta, rediculous! Move the growth out to Winchester Canyon, the most underutilized on and off ramp in the area. Move Old Town to the proposed area next to Ward Memorial (The Giorgi, Caird, Ekwill site) and design a nice city center, maybe one that resembles Carpinteria with a promenade and walking/biking paths down to the beach. Bulldoze Old Town, which is poorly planned out anyway and put up high density housing there instead. Multiple problems solved…

    • Not talking about any housing, only the commercial buildings along Hollister. Give them an option to move business locations. There’s already a push to rebuild that whole section from Fairview down to Ward. Instead of wasting resources on that, plan out a nice city center off of Ward Dr. with another on off ramp off of 217. There’s plenty off space there to add new neighborhoods as well. All I’m saying is that there is a better way to use space in this town that would benefit the whole community, while solving multiple issues…

    • GOLETA1st – “Move the growth out to Winchester Canyon, the most underutilized on and off ramp in the area.” WHAT?! Obviously your not “Goleta 1st.” Why would you suggest destroying the rural beauty out there? Please don’t suggest that. It’s one of the few beautiful things we still have in Goleta. Ugh! Take that elsewhere!

    • I don’t think you can “move Old Town.” You can build something better or different elsewhere, but by definition it won’t be Old Town. And building high density housing where there is already a lot of traffic is often the preferred plan because there may already be bus lines, stores and other services handy. Cramming everyone together is the goal. The planners no longer seem concerned about traffic congestion and parking, with a long term goal of getting people out of cars and into public transit. Alas, our public transit has not caught up to the need.

    • This will get me a ton of hate but from this peanut gallery I see that as a compliment. Frankly, half the golf course should be turned into housing. Thousands of people who work hard at multiple jobs in town could have a place to live instead of two dozen (mostly white, mostly male, mostly old) people playing a dying sport. But the utilitarian, common-sense option will never happen, for obvious reasons. The powers-that-be will never give up their day drinking spot. As George Carlin said, it’s a big club and you and I ain’t in it!

  3. Hey all you Democratic Edhat Readers… This is the RESULT of your voting a straight Democratic ticket and not voting in what is best for the State and the peeps who reside in it… All this (housing mandates) came from our one Party State “Representatives” along with making CA the most over regulated State in the country… Policy matters- Enjoy your next trips to the gas pump too!

  4. Most will agree that we need more affordable housing in the SB/Goleta area. SB (including Montecito and Hope Ranch) are already built up on nearly every square inch. Goleta/Winchester/Glen Annie areas are the only areas where there’s plenty of “cheap” land to build on, and that’s just a fact. I wouldn’t want to see the GA golf course get built out, but you have to admit it already has the infrastructure (electricity, water, access, and so on). I’d rather see the GA golf course built out than have families who work in Santa Barbara commute from Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Maria, etc. Most of us who are concerned about the quality of our air/water and crowded r.oads certainly want to see LESS commuting, rather than MORE commuting. When these places are built, I’d also like to see more public transportation put in and incentives for taking it, or even mandate in certain instances. The building codes could be made less stringent to allow for multiple story apartments, studios, condos to accommodate those who wish to live in the Goleta area. We need to invest in our future NOW…..not somewhere down the road. Basically, a win-win for everyone in my opinion.

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