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


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