The number of single-family properties in Santa Barbara eligible to split into two lots under the controversial Senate Bill 9 — signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom two months ago — slims under a proposed ordinance approved by the Ordinance Committee on Tuesday.
City of Santa Barbara staff have attempted to shape the statewide legislation, which will go into effect Jan. 1, to the city. Primarily, the ordinance proposed by city staff excludes properties in the “foothill” and “extreme foothill” high-fire-risk areas from developing with SB 9.
The Ordinance Committee, led by Mayor Cathy Murillo in Chair Mike Jordan’s absence, questioned whether to exclude high-fire-risk areas in the coastal zone as well. Interim Fire Marshall Ryan DiGuilio said easier evacuation routes by the coast separate it from the foothill area.
In the coastal zone, one of two primary units from a lot split must be affordable for low-income households. The full city council will discuss a possible moderate-income inclusionary requirement inland.
SB 9 does not supersede the Coastal Act, so all Coastal Act standards carry over to the process. But city staff do not plan to hold a public hearing for each coastal development permit, said city planner Renee Brooke.
Lots resulting from SB 9 lot splits must be at least 1,200 square feet, and the second lot must be at least 40% the size of the first.
Development is barred within 35 feet of a creek bed. The state law protects other habitats.
Design standards are copied from the City’s accessory-dwelling-unit standards, which look for matching features between a primary home and an ADU.
Councilmember Kristen Sneddon challenged this idea. She said two houses with the same finishes would look worse.
The City is planning to require development plans when property owners apply to split lots.
There is a maximum of two primary units and a maximum of four units on the split lot.
The state law restricts lot splits in a variety of situations, such as in historic districts. It also does not allow properties that have been rented in the past three years to apply.
Property owners can still apply to split their land and develop through conventional city processes.
Mayor Murillo asked Ms. Harris if adding inclusionary requirements might slow down a boost to the city’s housing stock.
“I would say the cause for concern for many cities is just the ministerial nature of these state laws,” Ms. Harris replied. “That we don’t get to look at them on a case-by-case basis … So a concern is just trying to anticipate in advance what types of proposals we might see, and so we’re responding with these objective standards to the best of our ability.
“We don’t know really how popular this might be.”
The City Council will review the ordinance during its Dec. 7 meeting.