The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara is planning to tear down a business property at 200-220 N. La Cumbre Road to build affordable housing.
On Monday a Housing Authority letter to tenants was released on Facebook by Family Practice Medical Group of Santa Barbara. The letter informed tenants the Housing Authority purchased the property with the intent to develop it into affordable housing.
“In the short-term (next 3-5 years) the Housing Authority will continue to operate the property in its current capacity as a commercial site … we will not be undertaking any major improvements or investments with useful lifespans that would exceed a five year period,” reads the letter.
Skip Szymanski, Housing Authority deputy executive director, said most of the tenant leases will expire before the end of the five-year period.
Those that don’t will be given a remedy “typical for the circumstances,” he said.
After the planning and permitting process is complete, the Housing Authority intends to demolish the existing buildings.
Housing Authority officials met with tenants on July 9 to discuss the project.
“From the responses we received at the meeting, we understand and can appreciate the personal and professional hardship our endeavor may create for tenants in the long-term. … In an effort to better assist the planning necessary for current tenants, the Housing Authority will provide at least one year notice prior to anticipated on-site development,” reads the letter.
Mr. Szymanski said the Housing Authority will investigate other solutions, such as letting tenants out of their leases early. He added that the Housing Authority could expedite the pre-building process but has chosen not to out of respect for the current tenants.
Mr. Szymanski said the project is still in the early planning stages. The Housing Authority is choosing an architect and what income bracket the project will serve.
“There’s a lot of talk about the ‘missing middle.’ Those with 80 to 120 percent area median income. We may want to serve that population. Or 80 percent (area median income) and below,” said Mr. Szymanski, who added that the project’s neighbors the community at large will be able to comment on the project before construction begins.
The Housing Authority is “very open” to using the project for permanent housing for the homeless and would “not rule it out,” according to the letter.