The median home price in SB is nearly $1.2 million
The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury released a report last week on the affordable housing shortage in Santa Barbara.
According to the report, published on Wednesday, the median price of a home in the city is $1,170,200, far out of reach for low- and middle-income families.
The Grand Jury made nine findings, including that the Santa Barbara City Council has not found permanent sources of funding for low-income housing projects or identified publicly owned properties that could be converted into low and middle-income housing units. They also alleged that the council delayed development of accessory dwelling units despite state directives and failed to require inclusionary or low- and middle-income housing units when approving housing developments.
The report suggested the council should implement a low- and middle-income housing plan, create or secure affordable housing funding and require inclusionary or low and middle-income housing units when approving housing projects with 10 units or more among other recommendations.
In 1969, the city created a housing authority to provide affordable housing projects. Since its inception, the city housing authority has provided more than 1,300 housing units. The Grand Jury said that is not enough.
“The need for affordable housing has continued to increase, and the City has not maintained its commitment to provide it,” the report read.
The Grand Jury noted that workers make 5,000 trips to Santa Barbara from North County and 25,000 trips from areas south of the city.
According to the report, the city must provide over 2,000 affordable housing units by 2023 under the State Housing Element and the Regional Housing Needs Allocation program, but it is also dealing with widespread homelessness.
“The City needs to recognize that it must clear itself of unproductive patterns and adopt a forward-looking vision for creating affordable housing,” the report read.
The report claimed city council members appear to be “provincial when making affordable housing decisions that would impact their districts.”
Jurors suggested budget-neutral approaches to creating affordable housing, such as directing the city Community Development Department to allow “form-based zoning.”
“This type of zoning looks at the individual project, its form, façade and scale, and if it can blend into the surroundings. Multi-unit projects can be designed to match the character of a neighborhood,” the report read.
The Grand Jury also suggested multi-use zoning to expand the areas available for housing development in the city.
A senior county representative suggested to the Grand Jury that the city could also identify land and publicly owned property and apply for state funding to develop it into affordable housing.
“The City needs to regain their trust by assuring them that they could complete the permitting and building process with few complications or delays,” the report read. The Grand Jury claimed Santa Barbara has a poor reputation among developers because projects can take up to 10 years from application to construction.
They encouraged the city to streamline the approval and environmental review process for affordable housing projects and reduce permitting fees.
“Mostly, the City Council needs a change in vision. It has spent the recent years guarding the
interests of certain residents and neglecting the rich diversity of people that the City celebrates,” the report read.
A response from the city of Santa Barbara is requested within 90 days.