City council change zoning to accommodate low-income housing
The Santa Maria City Council has voted to change the zoning at Hi-Way Drive-In to allow for a low-income housing project.
The drive-in theater has not been financially viable, and the owners are selling the property to People’s Self-Help Housing, a nonprofit.
Tuesday’s vote to change the zoning from commercial to residential was the first step in a potentially two-year process on the path to building a low-income housing project that will be funded by People’s Self-Help Housing and state grants.
“It’s relatively flat, which helps with the cost of the preparatory work for construction,” Ken Triguerio, president and CEO of People’s Self-Help Housing, told the News-Press Wednesday.
“It’s in the middle of a residential area,” Mr. Triguerio said. “Infrastructure is pretty well developed around it, which makes it more financially feasible.”
Currently People’s Self-Help Housing has 2,000 units of rental housing, but more homes are needed, he said.
“We have a wait list of over 500 people for our rental units,” Mr. Triguerio said. “On our list of interested parties is more than 5,000 who would qualify for the housing. We have so many people in great need of an opportunity like this.”
Chuen Ng, director of community development for the city of Santa Maria, said the People’s Self-Help Housing project will provide additional homes for low-income and very low-income households.
“The project will be equity housing development, meaning that the future buyers of homes will be involved in construction,” Mr. Ng said. “The project will be consistent with the area, as the development will be surrounded by other single-family homes.”
PSHH will fund the preliminary work for the preparation of the construction. The rest of the project will be funded by state grants, which PSHH will be applying for. Construction loans will also be in the names of the individual homeowners.
“The program we run is designed to be affordable for those who earn about 80% of median income,” said Mr. Triguerio. “These are young families with children. This is a category of population that has been locked out of homeownership opportunities.
“This is one of the only programs around that provides affordable housing. Essentially, meaning that the cost of the permanent mortgage is about 30% of income. This is a great opportunity for them,” he said.
However, Mr. Triguerio said construction on the project will not actually begin for probably another two years.
Hi-Way Drive-In is one of two drive-in theaters in Santa Barbara County. The other one is West Wind Drive-In, located in Goleta.