The Santa Barbara City Council today is expected to terminate the state of local emergency issued earlier this month when a massive winter storm pounded the city, dumping more than 5 inches of rain in just two days.
The meeting starts at 2 p.m. at the council’s chambers, 735 Anacapa St.
Staff is recommending the council adopt a resolution ending the local emergency declared by City Administrator Rebecca Bjork on Jan. 9, and ratified by the council three days later.
City Administrator Bjork, acting in the capacity of director of emergency services, proclaimed the local emergency so city departments could prepare for the storm’s inevitable outcome, which included debris flows that blocked city roads and flooded streets that trapped residents inside their vehicles who had to be rescued by police and firefighters.
“Conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property arose within the City of Santa Barbara caused by storms and floods commencing on or about Jan. 9,” reads the resolution.
The law requires the Santa Barbara City Council to periodically review the need for continuing the local emergency and to proclaim the termination of the local emergency at the earliest possible date that the conditions warrant, staff said.
“The Director of Emergency Services has reported that the conditions of extreme peril necessitating the declaration of local emergency no longer exist and that the declaration of local emergency may be terminated,” reads the resolution.
The city, however, will continue to seek to recover costs and may continue to exercise authority under any federal, state or county emergency or disaster declaration arising from or related to the storms and floods that gave rise to the city’s declaration of local emergency, staff said.
If, as expected, the council approves the resolution, its decision will be the polar opposite of last week’s decision by the Carpinteria City Council to extend its state of local emergency for at least another 30 days.
In other business, the Santa Barbara City Council will be asked to approve an ordinance amending the city’s Municipal Code regarding zoning regulations for accessory dwelling units.
New state legislation intended to increase production of Accessory Dwelling Units necessitates updating the city’s zoning regulations, staff said.
Assembly Bill 2221 and Senate Bill 897, which both took effect on Jan. 1, include numerous changes to the state ADU laws. The changes proposed by the new state laws include an increase to the maximum building height limit and a number of technical changes intended to make ADUs easier to build.
“In addition to amendments required for compliance with State Law, staff is recommending several changes to further facilitate production of ADUs, consistent with the city’s Draft 2023–2031 Housing Element program recommendations regarding conversion of commercial portions of mixed-use buildings to ADUs and construction of two ADUs (double-ADUs) on existing multi-unit properties,” according to the city of Santa Barbara.
Amendments are proposed for both the Inland Zoning Ordinance and Coastal Zoning Ordinance. After adoption by the council, the amendments would be submitted to the California Coastal Commission as a stand-alone Local Coastal Program amendment.
The Planning Commission reviewed the proposed amendments on Nov. 17, and the council’s Ordinance Committee reviewed the proposed amendments on Dec. 6. Both forwarded a recommendation to the council for adoption.
“Although the city has approved a growing number of ADUs, property owners have expressed interest in increasing the allowed number of ADUs on properties with existing multi-unit development,” staff said.
The city will conduct outreach to evaluate and implement procedural changes to assist ADU applicants and develop additional guidance to support residents who are seeking city ADU approvals.
In addition, the city will research and collaborate with community organizations and nonprofits who are interested in offering ADUs as deed-restricted affordable housing, and look for ways to implement a pilot program with incentives for property owners to provide ADUs as deed-restricted housing or housing choice vouchers for low-income seniors, students and other community members in need of affordable housing.