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Santa Barbara County updates housing element plan amid ongoing housing crisis

Santa Barbara County housing are costs some of the most expensive in the state, and they're rising every year.
Flickr.com / AnnA
Santa Barbara County housing are costs some of the most expensive in the state, and they're rising every year.

Santa Barbara County has released a draft of their housing element plan amid a severe housing crisis there, and they’re asking for local input.

Every eight years, each California county has to update their housing element to identify where future housing can be built. It also spotlights policies that help make housing affordable.

Santa Barbara County’s new plan aims to meet the state’s mandate to increase housing across the county.

Lisa Plowman is the County’s Director of Planning and Development. She said it still needs to be considered by the County’s Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission to be adopted.

“The state comes up with housing numbers that they allocate out to all the jurisdictions in California. So they send those numbers to these regional governing bodies and in our case, it's Santa Barbara County Association of Governments,” Plowman said.

After the state’s analysis, she said the state mandated that Santa Barbara County build about 5,500 units, which is 8 times more than what was previously recommended.

“The [Regional Housing Needs Allocation] for North County is 1,522 units, and the allocation for South County is 4,142 units," Plowman said.

"So 73% of the allocations are to be constructed in the South County. And that's really to address the high cost of housing down here as well as jobs, housing balance.”

She said South County has more jobs but less housing stock than North County. That is why the County’s Association of Governments allocated more housing units in places like Goleta and Santa Barbara.

“We've been meeting our numbers with market rate units, but not in the lower income units. So that's where the challenge is,” Plowman said.

Plowman said this is only a draft. There’s a 30-day public comment period which ends on February 28. Afterwards, the housing plan is headed to the County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission who will be able to consider which sites to rezone.

Santa Barbara County residents can review the plan and submit their comments at countyofsb.org.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
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