<b>HOUSING HODGEPODGE:</b>  Of the 121 units Hillside House is proposing to build, 10 would be for facility residents, 44 for low-income tenants, and 67 for regular renters.

Peikert + RRM Design Group

HOUSING HODGEPODGE: Of the 121 units Hillside House is proposing to build, 10 would be for facility residents, 44 for low-income tenants, and 67 for regular renters.

Hillside House Plans Get Cool Reception

Rental Housing Proceeds Could Keep Home for the Disabled Operating in Perpetuity

Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

The new and improved expansion plans by Hillside House — a residential treatment center for the developmentally disabled on Veronica Springs Road — were not sufficiently new and improved from the old ones to win the hearts and minds of the City of Santa Barbara’s Planning Commission.

A majority of the commissioners expressed deep concern that the project — which calls for the development of 121 units of rental housing — remained too big for the surrounding neighborhood and that it would generate too much traffic for nearby Las Positas Road. The development scheme reviewed by the Planning Commission, in a six-hour public hearing Thursday afternoon, was strictly conceptual. Thus far, Hillside House and the Santa Barbara County Housing Authority (its partner) have not submitted a formal application.

Hillside House, a venerable player serving Santa Barbara’s developmentally disabled community since 1951, has been pushing various housing development schemes on its 24-acre site for many years now, arguing that the proceeds would generate the funds necessary to sustain operations there in perpetuity. First, Hillside House teamed up with Bermant Development and proposed a mix of 121 rental and for-sale housing units. The initial environmental analysis indicated this would generate so much additional traffic that congestion it would cause at the intersection of Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road was deemed a Class I negative impact, meaning it could not be mitigated. Since then, Bermant Development has disappeared from the picture to be replaced by the County Housing Authority.

These two are now proposing to build exclusively rental housing — a commodity City Hall is now taking pains to encourage. Of the 121 units, 10 will be occupied by Hillside House residents (six to a three-bedroom unit), 44 will be set aside for low-income tenants, and the remaining 67 units rented at whatever the market will bear.

About 35 people addressed the Planning Commission at Thursday’s hearing. Everyone spoke glowingly of Hillside House and its mission. Affordable and workforce housing advocates with SBCAN (Santa Barbara Community Action Network) came out in support of the development as proposed. But many of Hillside House’s neighbors expressed reservations about the proposal’s impact on Las Positas Road, and its size and density relative to the surrounding neighborhood. Most of the nearby homes are built one to an acre; the Hillside proposal is five per acre. Likewise, many expressed concern about locating so many rental units so far from existing transportation. MTD buses currently serve the area once an hour.

What remains uncertain is the extent to which the new plan, for rental units only, would generate less traffic and, if so, by an amount sufficient to make a difference. According to city planners, Hillside House is proposing fewer bedrooms than before even though the number of units is still the same. Because reliance on the automobile by low income renters tends to be less in Santa Barbara — for a number of reasons — project proponents hope this will help soften the traffic impacts associated with or caused by their project.

Moreover, developers say the traffic will only generate 0.01 second of delay at all intersections but one. That one would generate only 1.05 seconds. They also say that now that the city is taking control of Cliff Drive, there are plans to install a traffic signal at Cliff and Las Positas, and that might mitigate the otherwise unmitigateable Class I Impact.

Of the six commissioners present, one was impressed by the proposal on the table and five seemed more troubled by the project’s neighborhood compatibility and traffic-congestion issues. It was clear they wanted something smaller, scaled back, but it was far from clear by how much and what the sweet spot is, if it exists. They urged Hillside House to pursue an aggressive meet-and-greet outreach campaign with the neighbors. The developers had invited comments from surrounding residents, but to date, few have taken the initiative to respond. The commissioners suggested the developers needed to do more, such as hosting community meetings and forums.

Jurisdictionally, the development proposal has a less than clear-cut path. The land itself falls within the jurisdiction of Santa Barbara County, so technically, the county supervisors should have the last word. But because the land falls within the City of Santa Barbara’s sphere of influence, City Hall has insisted it have first bite at whatever apple the developers come up with. It now remains up to the developers to see how, if at all, they wish to reengineer that apple.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I'd like to see the stats. showing that _Santa Barbara_ low income residents rely less on cars than do others.

It may be "the axiom of the planning world", as has been so frequently said, but it does not equal my experience in the low-incomed lower East where parked cars are on all the streets, all the time, except for the weekly two-hour street sweeping shuffle.

It's probably so in larger cities with ample public transit - and these factors really need to be considered when discussing developments. Apples to apples, oranges to oranges and all that!

citti (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 7:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How about this idea? If you can't afford to live in SB, then live (and work) somewhere else until you can.

banjo (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 9:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Mass transit should be undergoing expansion. Gonna wish ya had.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 12:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It makes no sense to me to build low income housing in an area where people have to rely on a car to leave the house. The one bus line that services Veronica Springs Rd goes to La Cumbre in one direction and downtown after going by Hendrys Beach and City College in the other. It's not going to get most people to work or help them run errands. They will have to drive. A lot.

Ryansbca (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 1:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Buses and yes, trains. Light rail is also a great public transit alternative and is doable in this region. Don't crybaby about congestion and then attempt to invalidate any alternative to single driver cars that is presented.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 1:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The words "serious" and "Agenda 21" should never appear in a post by anyone desiring to maintain a degree of credibility.

MysteryZ (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 3:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Are you a tea bagger spiritwalker?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 3:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well Agenda 21 is mixed use housing then supercool. I'd love to live above a book shop or cafe.
Yay Agenda 21!

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not very tall either.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 4:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I want as many people as possible to take the bus so that there is less traffic for me. I also want the city to stop building poor housing everywhere. SB's already ghetto enough.

banjo (anonymous profile)
July 13, 2013 at 10:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Typical NIMBY rationalization. All of sudden, changing a few bus routes becomes a Sisyphean feat?

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2013 at 2:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How about putting in some services for the neighborhood instead of just housing? I love to see a coffee shop, bread shop and a small super market. This would eliminate to need to get in a car in some cases. Furthermore it would build the community of hidden valley.

HDJA (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2013 at 11:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

HDJA hit the nail on the head. And not markets that are predatorily overpriced.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2013 at 11:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Currently a Caramel Frappuccino @ Starbucks cost $4.75. But I'll pay the 8 bucks for a coffee will everybody in hope ranch, veranica spings, hidden valley and bel air. The only store remotely close to this area is way below average Chinese food and a liqure store. Other that that its an trip (in a car) to way over crowed 5 pts (2.3 miles) gelson (2 miles) or the Mesa (1.9 miles). This location would be an instant success for any business. Currently hillside house it not a success...far from it. It's falling apart...and they need a major remodel. Hence their repeated proposals for development. Why not take a tried and true muti-uses approach..some housing and some services. Take San can walk (I know, this is scary concept in ca) to several places to buy dinner or get food.

And please let's put in a round about at Cliff/ Los Positas

HDJA (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2013 at 12:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Notice all the "fre emarket" peops freak out when you try to open a market.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2013 at 12:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: