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Water and parking issues linked to Santa Barbara’s AUD Incentive Program

Many NewsChannel 3 viewers expressed concern over the City of Santa Barbara’s Average Unit Density (AUD) Incentive Development Program for workforce housing with regards to water and parking issues.

NewsChannel 3 reached out to Water Resources Manager Joshua Haggmark and Principal Transportation Planner Rob Dayton for their input.

“If you look at it in the big picture, it doesn’t have us concerned at all,” Haggmark said, referring to the impact the AUD will have on the City’s long-term water supply. “We had been expecting demands of 40-acre feet a year of new development as the City densified and we’ve been seeing 27-acre feet a year of new demand if you were to average it out.”

Haggmark said increases in the population don’t mean increases in water use, stating that projected water use in 2030 would be “slightly less” than 2011 usage.

“Look at the last 25 years,” Haggmark said. “We used over 20 percent less in 2013 than we did in 1985.”

Haggmark cites new developments and improvements in plumbing efficiency, along with the latest plumbing codes and water conservation measures both for AUD developers and future tenants.

“In some cases, what’s actually being demolished there and going in is using less water than what it used before,” Haggmark said.

The same isn’t necessarily true when it comes to parking and AUD developments.

“We don’t know how the AUD program is going to work with parking,” Dayton said. “But the good news is we know that more housing is being proposed and that was the goal.”

Dayton calls the lower parking requirement associated with AUD developments the “secret sauce” and “primary motivator” for the incentive program. He admits parking will be problematic as the units go up.

“One space per unit for the AUD project is not enough to cover demand,” Dayton said. “So we do believe that some people will be parking on the street from those projects.”

Dayton points out that the AUD locations are in areas that have more “efficiency” and less requirement for cars, such as the Milpas St. and State St. corridors that have bus stops and service routes throughout.

However, Dayton points out that the City is not seeing as many of the AUD projects downtown as they expected. He also said neighborhoods close to businesses and commercial zones are already experiencing parking tension as residents and nearby employees battle over an increase in street parking.

As for folks considering moving into a downtown AUD unit once it’s built, Dayton warns that those tenants may find parking challenges as well.

“They won’t be able to get a permit to park on the streets. So, that problem will solve itself,” Dayton said.

Perhaps the purchase of a bicycle or scooter will help solve the problem.

“We’ll just have to wait to see, as the (AUD) projects are on the ground and people are living in them, how we shape the next phase of the program,” Dayton said.

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