| Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Santa Barbara County and the City of Goleta both earned approval from the California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD) for their respective Housing Element plans, bringing the two jurisdictions another step closer to full adoption, which is expected by the end of the year.

For the county, the formal notice of “substantial compliance” comes after only two formal rounds of review, and after a diligent planning process that included public outreach, working with local housing experts and state officials, and identifying sites for potential rezoning to meet the state-allocated goal of 5,664 new housing units in unincorporated portions of Santa Barbara County between 2023 and 2031.

“I am very proud of our staff,” said County Director of Planning and Development Lisa Plowman. “The state’s process and requirements for this Housing Element update cycle were daunting.”

Goleta received a letter from the State of California on Monday, certifying that the city had met the steep requirements of California’s home-building numbers for the sixth cycle. The process is a protracted one governed by laws first set out in 1969, with the latest cycle requiring the city to zone for 1,837 new homes for income categories ranging from very low to above moderate.

The process has been a stressful one, putting neighborhoods on notice that lots they’d enjoyed as vacant space had the serious potential to be rezoned for homes and apartment buildings. Councilmember James Kyriaco reminded that any project would still go through the city’s planning process: “It’s a vigorous process and weighted toward protecting sensitive areas like cultural sites and creek habitat.”

Both the county and the City of Goleta included plans for rezoning several properties to meet the projected housing need over the next eight years. The county chose to include more properties than required to give the Board of Supervisors plenty of options during the rezoning process in early 2024.

Before the rezoning process, both plans are expected to be considered for full adoption during public hearings in November and December. The deadline to complete all actions, including rezoning, is February 15, 2024.


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