The Santa Barbara City Council voted to amend the inclusionary housing requirements of its average unit-size density incentive program so that new multi-unit rental housing projects in most of the city make 15 percent of their units affordable. The exception to this percentage will be in Santa Barbara’s “central business district,” which will have a requirement of ten percent. According to a council agenda report for Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, “affordable” means restricted to moderate-income households that earn up to 120 percent of the area median income, or $79,300 for a family of four.
Percentage requirements will specifically apply to projects of ten or more units, whereas developers building projects of nine units or fewer will have the option of paying an in-lieu fee of $25 per square feet or building an additional unit that is affordable. Tuesday’s amendments differed from city staff’s initial recommendations, which called for a ten percent requirement in the CBD and elsewhere in the city, and did not include the option of building additional units instead of the in-lieu fee.
The council passed the amendment 4 to 3, with District 2 councilmember Randy Rowse, mayor pro tempore Eric Friedman, and mayor Cathy Murillo voting no. Prior to voting, the mayor stated that she thought 15 percent was too high.
“15 percent won’t work… No one will come forward with projects at that high of a rate,” she said.
Mr. Friedman agreed and said a 15 percent rate would “disincentivize” developers.
The council also passed a second motion to have the Planning Commission review the ordinance in light of the new amendments and return with further recommendations for the full ordinance. This passed with 5 yes votes, with Mr. Friedman and Mr. Rowse abstaining.
When the ordinance returns to the council, it will require four votes to pass its first reading. It will then require five votes for final adoption during its second reading because the City of Santa Barbara’s charter requires a supermajority vote to pass zoning changes.