Housing Element Update

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   April 11, 2023

At the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hearing on Tuesday, the Board was briefed on the Housing Element Update, a draft of which was recently submitted to the State’s Housing and Community Development Department. The Housing Element process occurs every eight years, and requires that local governments must adopt plans and systems that provide opportunities for housing development. The Regional Housing Needs Allowance (RHNA) requires that the County identify sites for 4,142 new homes in South Santa Barbara County; in order to meet this, Montecito’s Growth Management Ordinance needs to be amended. 

Following a public comment period after releasing the original draft Housing Element, nineteen new housing sites have been identified. Seven are county-owned sites on Calle Real, Hollister, and in downtown Santa Barbara. Two new sites have been identified in Montecito: employee housing at the Rosewood Miramar Resort and Biltmore Hotel, which could add 60 units total of housing, half of which would be for employees. Two other sites are located in the Eastern Goleta Valley, and one new site has been earmarked in Carpinteria. Other sites are located in Isla Vista and on the UCSB campus; remaining sites are in the North County. These newly-identified sites could accommodate 2,151 lower income, moderate income, and market income units, adding to the sites previously identified by County staff – none of which were in Montecito, which caused significant public outcry. 

County staff has identified many more sites than necessary throughout the County, so that if necessary, sites can be eliminated further in the process. Many of the sites will require a rezone in order to accommodate housing. 

Next steps include receiving review and comments from the State, followed by environmental review, public comment hearings, adoption hearings, and rezone hearings. 


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