(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) – Santa Barbara County posted its Draft Revised Housing Element Update for 2023-2031 on its website on June 22, 2023.  A copy can be found at https://www.countyofsb.org/3177/Housing-Element-Update; revisions are tracked in the document. The revision of the Housing Element comes after the County presented the draft to the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) for review on March 31, 2023, kicking off a 90-day State review period. The County expects to receive formal comments from the State by June 30, 2023.

This Draft Revised Housing Element addresses preliminary comments made during the State’s review period.  The updated version will now be posted for seven days as well as emailed as a link to all individuals and organizations that have previously requested notices related to the County’s Housing Element effort.  When the seven-day public posting period is completed, the County will submit this draft revision to the State. The posting and seven-day waiting period are required by State law.

“Our team has been working since we released the draft to ensure the quality of our work. This revision includes clean-up items, and it addresses questions raised by State HCD during the comment period. We look forward to receiving the State’s formal comments next week,” said Director of Planning and Development Lisa Plowman.

The revisions in this draft are primarily clean-up and clarifications.   There are no significant changes to programs, policies or methodology, and no new sites were added, though some sites were removed from the vacant sites inventory such as large agricultural sites unlikely to yield units and sites in airport safety zones.

The Housing Element Update is one of the mandated components of a General Plan. It directs local governments to plan for the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community.

For this cycle, State HCD requires that Santa Barbara County identify sites to accommodate 5,664 new housing units in unincorporated portions of Santa Barbara County between 2023 and 2031.  This is an 8-fold increase from the last cycle. That housing needs allocation, the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), is further broken down to require 4,142 units in the South Coast region and 1,522 units in North County.

The State requires the County’s Housing Element to accommodate 2,818 very low, low- and moderate-income units.  The new public and private sites following the public comment period added nearly 1,200 units in these categories.  

An interactive map showing all the potential housing sites can be found at, https://sbcopad.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9375e0705e864eada0ff535c23ba99ac

Once the State finds the Housing Element to be generally in compliance, the updated Housing Element will move through the public hearing process including review by the Planning Commission and adoption by the Board of Supervisors later in 2023. 

Next steps in the process include refinement of the rezone sites and the preparation of a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) assessing potential impacts associated with the proposed rezones needed to meet the County’s RHNA.  The next opportunity for public participation will be during the public comment period on the Draft PEIR. The Department will hold two public comment hearings; one in north county and one in south county.  


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