In accordance with on-going fiscal housekeeping efforts, the Santa Barbara School Board voted this week to form an advisory committee that will examine potential surplus property holdings in the cash-challenged district while also, in an entirely separate vote, deciding to move forward with the possible residential development of district-owned Hidden Valley and Tatum properties neighborhoods as an additional source of General Fund revenue. (The 12-acre Hidden Valley property sits between the Hidden Valley neighborhood and Veronica Springs Road, while the Tatum property is a 22-acre parcel bordered by Highway 101 and situated near San Marcos High School.)

The decision to form the advisory committee, which is a direct result of discussions during the board’s historic $4 million budget cuts this past Spring, will look specifically at the practicalities of moving the district headquarters away from its current downtown location on Santa Barbara Street and perhaps to empty space at Santa Barbara Junior High. The then-vacant Santa Barbara Street property, which previously housed the Santa Barbara Community Academy, could then be rented out and generate revenue. Similarly, the committee, once appointed, would be investigating the possibility of renting out the former Parma School site on Montecito Street. As per California education code, the committee will be composed of a teacher, administrators, parents of students, and at least one at-large community member as well as a land-use expert.

The second decision was to officially draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the development of residential housing at the Hidden Valley and Tatum properties. The document, which is the first major step towards building out these district assets, is designed to be call to developers, inviting them to make a pitch for developing both market rate and below-market rate houses on long-term ground leases at the aforementioned holdings. As per the desired language of the RFP, any company looking to apply for the project will also be responsible navigating the county approval process, entitlement processing, financing, design construction, and marketing of the would-be units.


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