‘CONDO-MANIA’ APPEALED

by Nick Welsh

Affordable-housing advocate Mickey Flacks and Santa Barbara
Community Action Network (SBCAN) filed an appeal to block the Santa
Barbara city Planning Commission’s recent approval of a proposal to
tear down a 10-unit apartment complex at 85 N. La Cumbre Rd. and
replace it with eight upscale condos and one below-market unit.
“We’re not out to protect the existing tenants per se, so much as
we’re trying to protect the existing housing stock,” Flacks said.
“These are modest rentals that go for about $1,000 a month. In
their place, we’re getting expensive, high-end condos. Is that what
this city wants to do?” The owners have put the property on the
market for $3.5 million. Flacks argued that the proposal violates
city housing policies designed to protect moderate- and low-income
housing stock. Noting that the La Cumbre units were located on R-3
zoned land — the only zoning that allows for large multi-family
rental housing — Flacks asked, “If the R-3 zone is going to be
transformed into condo-mania, what zone district will serve for the
construction of new rental apartments?”

The Planning Commission voted 6-0 to approve the proposal on
June 1. Commissioners expressed concern over the loss of moderately
priced rentals, but said the owners were within their rights to
redevelop their properties. Commissioner Bendy White described the
existing apartment building as “55-year-old crass spec crap” that
desperately needed to be replaced. And he asked where Flacks and
SBCAN had been in the past when private developers replaced
multi-family properties on R-3 zoned land with “2,000- and
3,000-square-foot one-bedroom condos. “That’s where we could use
some help,” he said. He won’t be waiting anymore.

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