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Miramar, Biltmore parking added to Housing Element; Magnolia Shopping Center dropped

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The County of Santa Barbara is one week away from submitting its final Draft Housing Element to the State of California.

The state-mandated housing requirement is compiled every eight years.

Lisa Plowman, Santa Barbara County's Director of Planning and Development, said the community actively participated during the 30 day public comment period that began Jan. 31 and ended Mar. 1 during which, several issues were raised for the County to consider.

"We received over 440 comment letters ranging from supportive housing letters to letters having concerns about resources and infrastructure constraints and the preservation of agriculture."

Plowman said a total of 19 new sites were added to the process with the bulk in the South County.

"That includes seven county-owned sites," Plowman said. "It includes two sites in Montecito where we have the Biltmore Hotel and the Miramar Hotel proposing employee housing. And, we are going to be counting UCSB's faculty and staff housing projects of which there are three. That includes the Ocean Road project, Devereaux Road North Knoll project and, the Ocean Walk project."

Parking areas at the Biltmore Hotel and Miramar Hotel were listed as sites for proposed employee housing, however, the Biltmore also included the tennis area.

The total unit count for the Draft Housing Element is 5,664. The additions bring a total of 2,151 new units to the plan.

"That includes 518 lower income units, 666 moderate units and 967 above moderate or market rate units. Essentially what this means is, we now have over two times the number of units to meet our Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) so that the board has a wide range of options when they're looking at rezoning property."

Plowman said all of the sites included in the original rezone process -- except for one -- are still on the map and will be presented to the board. The Magnolia Shopping Center is no longer included as the site was unlikely to be able to accomodate housing within the eight year cycle.

Plowman said six other additional sites include the vacant Montessori School off of Hollister near San Federico, the Tatum property near El Camino Elementary. Both are located in Eastern Goleta valley.

In North County, there are three additional sites: one in Vandenberg Village and two in Orcutt along Clark Avenue.

Plowman said a vacant property currently owned by Friendship Manor in Isla Vista was also included.

"We will have a board hearing on April 4 to discuss the revisions to the Housing Element and submittal to the state. The state will take 90-days to review the Housing Element."

Plowman said the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is expected to be released to the public this Summer. Two hearings will be scheduled, one in the North County, the other in the South County.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here


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