The Santa Barbara City Council approved a contract with the Housing Authoring to create a 60-unit development on the Carrillo commuter lot, 400 W. Carrillo Street, during its meeting Tuesday.
The project is designed to house the “missing middle,” Rob Fredericks, executive director of the Housing Authority said.
He plans for most of the units to suit moderate-income levels, or 80-120% of the area’s median income. But the Housing Authority may “sprinkle in” middle-income units to secure investors.
Based on current income levels, a studio apartment rented for moderate-income individuals would be priced at $1,600.
Mr. Fredericks says moderate-income housing, often called “workforce housing,” is needed in the city.
Only four moderate-income units were built in the city between 2015 and 2020, according to the latest Regional Housing Needs Assessment. The assessment said that 820 units were needed.
During that same period, 84 low-income units were constructed (out of the 701 needed) and 1,211 above-moderate units were built (of 1,617 needed).
He also presented RHNA data that shows needs will intensify, particularly for low-income and very low-income housing, in the next study cycle (2023-2031). He highlighted, though, a 75% increase in demand for moderate-income units.
Councilmember Mike Jordan asked him about the projected increase in need of very low-income housing. A calculation was incorrect, diminishing the income bracket.
“Housing Authority, being the affordable housing operating arm of the city, we will never lose our primary mission of serving the low and very low income households in this community. They are the ones that are burdened the most,” Mr. Fredericks said. and “We will always push forward on that, but we want to partner on this development for making this moderate income work.”
A backup plan for the project is to create all low-income housing. Initial talks with City Council and neighbors to the Carrillo lot steered toward moderate income, Mr. Fredericks said.
Public comments and City Council questions favored the current plan of workforce housing.
Jesse Ebadi, district representative for Rep. Salud Carbajal, called on behalf of the congressman in support of the contract.
“Middle-income individuals who often do not qualify for assistance can still find themselves unable to find affordable housing in high-cost living areas like ours. We need to work to fill that gap,” he said. “The congressman agrees with the housing authority that in addition to the housing for lower income individuals, the city is in desperate need of more housing for those who are moderate and middle income.”
Michael Burton, development director for New Beginnings Counseling Center, also called in support. New Beginnings provides safe overnight parking in the Carrillo lot for those living in their vehicles.
The only comment against the proposed development came from Steve Johnson, who warned against building within 500 feet of Highway 101.
City code restricts building within 250 feet, but 500 is permissible despite being a high-pollution zone.
Mr. Fredericks said air-quality concerns will be addressed in the design phase.
Council unanimously approved the contract.
“Many developments purport to serve the missing middle, and we’ve done incentives in different ways to try to serve the missing middle,” Councilmember Meagan Harmon said. “But really only the Housing Authority can ensure that it can keep the covenant of affordability and can have preferences for our local workers.”
Mr. Fredericks also said he would place priority “to the extent allowed by law” on those not dependent on automobiles.
The Housing Authority will have more approvals by City Council, the Architectural Board of Review and the Planning Commission required as it starts the development process.