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Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors selects future housing sites

Courtesy: City of Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors met Monday through Friday to select future housing sites throughout the county.

Below is a press release from the Board on the matter:

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) – The County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Santa Maria and Friday, May 3, 2024, in Santa Barbara to review and select sites to accommodate affordable housing throughout the county. 

On Friday, the Board voted to rezone ten sites in the North County and 17 sites on the South Coast that can accommodate affordable housing units for lower-, moderate-, and upper moderate- income households countywide. The Board also selected nine County-owned sites to provide needed housing units, all in the South County. 

This is the final step in the Housing Element Update process and ensures the County remains in compliance with State Housing Law. The selection of sites is the end of a long process that began in 2021 when the State Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) through its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA, pronounced REE-nah) process mandated how many housing units the County had to accommodate as part of the current Housing Element Update cycle.  

For this cycle, State HCD required 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. The RHNA was further broken down to require 4,142 units in the South Coast region and 1,522 units in the North County region. This breakdown attempts to address the current jobs-housing imbalance. 

The State further mandates the number of units the County accommodate at lower-, moderate-, and above moderate affordability. The Board of Supervisors selected more sites than required to meet the RHNA, and asked owners of sites to guarantee more affordable units than are required under State and local housing regulations. 

The Board voted to rezone 9 of 18 potential rezone sites identified in the North County region. The majority of the North County rezone sites fall within Orcutt, with one site in Cuyama, and one site in Santa Ynez. 

The Board also voted to rezone one pending project in Vandenberg Village. The Board’s North County selections exceed the State’s requirements for lower-income affordable units plus a 15% buffer by nearly 200 units. 

At the North County hearing on April 30, Supervisor Bob Nelson, whose district includes Vandenberg Village and Orcutt, began the North County selection of sites, acknowledging, “The decisions that we make here are going to be lasting and impactful.” In the South Coast region, the Board voted to rezone 15 of 18 potential rezone sites, nine Countyowned sites and two pending projects. 

The Board’s selections exceed the State’s requirements for lower-income affordable units plus a 15% buffer by 360 units and moderate-income units by just over 250 units. “This is a significant step to provide much needed lower- and moderate-income housing in our County,” said Lisa Plowman, Director of Planning and Development. 

“We worked to make the rezones itself an opportunity to promote more of what our community needs. Low-income housing by encouraging partnerships with the Housing Authority and other low-income housing developers with a record of keeping their housing affordable over time. Workforce housing by encouraging partnerships with employers with the South Coast Chambers Housing Consortium. And community benefits such as parks, trails, childcare, and other opportunities we also encouraged,” said Supervisor Joan Hartmann. 

The County’s Interactive Map, available on the County’s website, will be updated to show the sites that were rezoned by 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 7. As part of the process, the Board certified the Final Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 2023-2031 Housing Element Update (HEU). 

The final document, comments received, and the County’s responses are available on the County Planning and Development website. The County Board of Supervisors adopted the 2023-2031 Housing Element Update (HEU) on December 5, 2023. 

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) found the County’s adopted housing element in substantial compliance with State Housing Element Law on January 22, 2024. 

The Adopted HEU can be found at: 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.  This is the 6th Housing Element cycle, covering 2023-2031. Below is a list of sites the Board selected to rezone. These sites may be seen on the County’s Balancing Act tools (North and South), available on the County’s website:

Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors
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