Plans for a 90-unit affordable housing project on a vacant lot at Montecito Street and Calle César Chávez were knocked down a story and cut almost in half by the Santa Barbara City Council. The council acted after the developers revealed they could not provide the degree of affordability they initially promised. A majority of council members had initially endorsed the project in concept because the developers pledged to set aside all the units for nonprofit employees on affordable terms. But the developers — the Santa Barbara Housing Authority and Jeff Bermant — now contend that some market-rate units are necessary to underwrite the below-market units. Many council members expressed strong reservations about including market-rate units; they also voiced concern that the development was just too big for its neighborhood. But they also expressed openness toward expanding the upper limits of eligibility for affordable housing to include households earning $170,000. With that key proviso, council members urged the developers to go back to the drawing board and design a 48-unit project that was all “affordable.”

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