The City of Goleta has sued City Ventures Homebuilding, developer of the Winslowe project, aka Old Town Village, over what should be considered affordable prices. Located on Kellogg Avenue south of Hollister Avenue, the 175-unit, mixed-use complex was approved by City Council in 2015. Fourteen of the live-in Winslowe units must be affordable per the developer’s agreement with the city.
Goleta filed suit April 11, 2019, after City Ventures stated in March that it would pursue a damage claim because the city was refusing to approve the sale of affordable units at the developer’s price, which was at the highest end of the income bracket. The city’s contention was that for the moderate and above-moderate units, the unit price should be adjusted to accommodate buyers with less money.
“Above moderate income” is defined as those households earning 120-200 percent of median incomes in the county, and moderate income is between 80 percent and 120 percent. The county’s median is $79,600 for a family of four; by simple math, the income range would be between $63,680 and $159,200 overall.
According to Goleta’s court filing, City Ventures’ home price — listed at $709,000-$800,000 at the real estate site zillow.com — would be fixed at the maximum sales price for families whose income was anywhere on the 121-200 percent spectrum. When the city protested that the affordable unit price should adjust to an applicant’s income, City Ventures replied that such families could take out a loan and go into debt or come up with a larger down payment.
This isn’t the first time Winslowe has been the site of controversy; the project barely survived Goleta’s ongoing development debate, approved on a 3-2 vote. It was the last new construction approved in Goleta. The following year, a slow-growth council was elected by residents who feared that with less water, more traffic, and an explosion of new housing, Goleta had lost sight of what inspired the nickname “the Good Land.”
City Ventures hasn’t appeared in the case yet, but lead counsel Richard Howell stated, “City Ventures remains happy to resolve the dispute, but only in a manner consistent with the language of the parties’ agreements. We are not prepared to re-write the agreed upon pricing terms to accommodate the unreasonable demands that the city makes in its preemptive court filing.”
A hearing is scheduled for the morning of August 18, 2019. Goleta’s attorney Megan Garibaldi said it’s now “up to the court to interpret the different parties’ positions and make a ruling as to which party’s interpretation is accurate.”