Architect’s rendition of an affordable housing project proposed for  220 N. La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara.
An affordable housing project at 220 N. La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara got a warm reception from the city Architectural Board of Review at a recent meeting. (Contributed photo)

More than 1,600 families in the city of Santa Barbara are on a waiting list for affordable housing, and a project proposed for 220 N. La Cumbre Road would help 48 of them get off that list.

The Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review recently gave positive feedback to the Housing Authority project.

“I see the opportunity here that is being made available,” said board member Leon Olson. “I think this is the right place and the right time for this.”

The building is proposed for four stories with a maximum height of 53 feet.

About 76 vehicle parking spaces are proposed, including 12 designated for guests, along with 48 bicycle parking spaces. Part of the garage would be underground.

There is no density limit for the project because it is all affordable and located near a transit line. 

City Housing Authority Director Rob Fredericks spoke before the Architectural Board of Review last month, and described a bleak housing situation in Santa Barbara and the state. 

“California suffers from a deficit of affordable housing,” Fredericks said. “There’s 1.2 million affordable housing units needed statewide.”

Building new housing is not simple, he noted. 

“There’s not available land for producing housing that is needed,” Fredericks said. “There’s not a lot of available land.”

He said the project at 220 N. La Cumbre “would be a perfect site for family housing that is affordable to low-income families.”

Office building sat 220 N. La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara

These office building sat 220 N. La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara would be replaced by a 48-unit affordable housing project under a proposal before the city’s Architectural Board of Review. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The project will be primarily funded through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. The Housing Authority would target very low-income households and below. 

Santa Barbara city officials have approved hundreds of new housing units in recent years, but most have been market-rate units. The Housing Authority project would be designed for families who earn well below the area median income.

The project is designed by the Cearnal Collective and architect Christine Pierron.

She described it as a courtyard-style project, with the main part of the building resembling a red barn atop a stone foundation.

She said it will be a “slightly modern” building that will open up to La Cumbre, as opposed to the current office buildings that are “divorced” from the street.”

Board member David Black said the housing and the design will be a welcome addition. 

“It is going to be unique to the neighborhood and unique to Santa Barbara,” Black said. “From what I see, it is very handsome.”

Although all of the present board members showed strong support for the project, they did express some concerns.

Board member Dennis Whelan acknowledged that there were some community concerns regarding parking and traffic impacts. He also suggested that there be more landscaped interior spots for the families.

The board also suggested that the opening to the garage be in line with Maricopa street.

The ABR also encouraged the architect figure out a way to better screen an electric transformer. 

The vote was 5-0.

“It’s a great start here,” ABR vice chair Richard Six said, but he suggested that the building be set back from the street because he was concerned about the massing.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.