The Goleta City Council heard three key presentations regarding the concept of housing in the area during Tuesday night’s meeting.
While they were presented with three separate presentations, one on the regional housing needs allocation, another providing an update on affordable housing in the area, and the final one on drafting a plan for the homeless, they were all interrelated.
In terms of the RHNA, the only obligation needed to meet the state’s criteria is to accommodate their share of the regional housing need and provide for adequate residentially zoned land in that share.
To that point, the city is doing “extremely well,” said Peter Imhof, the city’s planning and environmental review director.
“We have a certified housing element that the state has recognized is adequate to accommodate that,” Mr. Imhof said.
The city has constructed 479 units of the 979 that they are going to construct. They are also doing well in providing housing in the above moderate category.
“This year, we do anticipate that there will be a number of affordable units, especially in the village of Los Carneros that will come online and that we’ll get credit for but on balance, we are doing very well on the above moderate category,” Mr. Imhof said.
He added that the city is struggling in providing housing in the extremely low, very low, low, and moderate categories.
While discussing the issue, Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards said he would like to see the city engaging in the process needed to provide housing for all groups of people, regardless of income.
“I want to make sure that we’re engaging in this RHNA process and that it will have a real positive effect on our community. It’s not just about fulfilling a state-mandated numbers game requirement,” Mr. Richards said. “I want to make sure we are actually getting more affordable housing out of this process and it is not just about density or any of these other things.”
He also brought up the issue of gentrification, stating that he would like to avoid gentrifying areas such as Old Town Goleta.
Mr. Imhof responded by saying the process actually has active steps in avoiding succumbing to these issues and others.
“We’re certainly very aware of those issues on the planning side and we’re doing our best to take a holistic view of all of those issues and there will be opportunities through the development of the different housing scenarios to think about those, along with a range of other issues,” Mr. Imhof said.
One of the issues is the expiration dates to keep the housing units at an affordable rate.
For example, 20 projects have confirmed expiration dates, including two of which have already expired with an additional five projects, totaling 94 units, set to expire within the next 10 years.
Mayor Paula Perotte shared her concern, saying that those expiration dates will be “here before we know it.”
“We need to keep this on our radar, keep talking about this and figure out what we can do to keep those all affordable,” Ms. Perotte said.
One way to circumvent the issue, according to Mr. Imhof, is by trying to extend the expiration dates.
“If we are poised to lose affordable units and we find a way to buy them back or extend the terms, then we get credit for those and we get to count those parts of RHNA. That’s one way in which we can meet the reader and that’s a perfectly valid move because it really does preserve affordable housing that otherwise would go away,” Mr. Imhof said.
In terms of homelessness, some of the city’s goals include increasing access to critical services, reducing the impacts of homelessness on the community, and preventing at-risk individuals from becoming homeless.
Some short term objectives that the city hopes to accomplish, that members of the community were also in favor of, include establishing mobile showers, a warming center in the community, partnering with local nonprofits to provide job training opportunities, and more.
Councilmember James Kyriaco shared his frustration with the state, however, in terms of their lack of support.
“Until the state steps up and decides to truly be a partner with communities like ours that are trying to do our best, not just for affordable housing, but to actually put it in where it’s appropriate and where we have the resources to do it effectively, it really puts us behind the eight ball,” Mr. Kyriaco said.
“I just want to say, as perhaps the newest council member here, it’s just a real point of frustration for me when you’re not getting the tools. Grants are great, but grants are no way to do an annual planning budget, and to actually implement a housing plan for affordability over any real consistent length of time, we’re not getting the support we need.”