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Habitat for Humanity Condo Project Receives Support of Santa Barbara Planning Commission

Members express concerns about parking and setbacks but generally approve of the 12-unit Eastside development

Despite concerns about parking and setbacks, a 12-unit condominium project put forward by Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County received supportive comments Thursday from the Santa Barbara City Planning Commission.

The project went before the group for a concept review, and commissioners gave their thoughts on changes they would recommend.

“Here in Santa Barbara, we have working families who provide vital services to our community that live in substandard housing,” said Jon Peterson, director of operations at Habitat for Humanity.

To date, the local organization has built and sold seven affordable homes to families.

The project, slated for 822 and 824 E. Canon Perdido St., would be for low- and very-low-income qualifying individuals. There’s a one-bedroom unit at 725 square feet and nine two-bedroom units ranging in size from 974 square feet to 1,187 square feet. Two three-bedroom units are also in the plan and measure 1,356 square feet. The plan also has 12 attached one-case garages and three guest parking spaces.

A lot merger also would be required. Modifications to provide less than the 10 feet of setback required for the two-story building and 15 feet for the three-story are also requested.

Parking also will have to be addressed. Under the city’s parking ordinance, the project would require 27 parking spaces. The ordinance has a provision for affordable projects, however, allowing one space per unit, but it doesn’t apply to units for sale.

The project is also incorporating elements of passive house design, to make the development space as efficient as possible. Commissioner Stella Larson said she was pleased the project is going for a high amount of sustainability. She also expressed concern about the height of the buildings, which reaches 40 feet at some places.

Commissioner Deborah Schwartz commended the organization’s mission.

“This is an ideal location for this type of project,” she said, adding that it was close to bus stops, grocery stores and Eastside schools. Along with other commissioners, Schwartz mentioned concerns about the setback of the project.

“There’s not a lot of room for pedestrian traffic,” she said, with students at Santa Barbara High in particular, and recommended an expanded setback of the project from the street.

Parking remains an issue in the neighborhood, and several commissioners expressed concern about demand. Commissioner John Jostes also mentioned on-street parking. One of the findings the Planning Commission will have to make is that the project does not affect on-street parking.

Jostes said the project fit in “quite well” into the neighborhood and didn’t have issues with the height.

“There’s clear support for this project because it zeroes in and fills a need,” Jostes said. “You’ve got a reputation as you come to the table here, and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing you folks involved in making it happen. It’s just a matter of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts at this point.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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