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Local News

County Supervisors Approve Housing Development, Look at Poverty Report

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors tackled a packed agenda Tuesday, and moved forward to approve an Orcutt building project and review a report examining poverty in the county.

The board unanimously approved the Bradley Village Orcutt Community Plan, 69 residences slated for a 79-acre undeveloped parcel that sits in the middle of single-family residences.

The plan also has a 3.5-acre park and more than 44 acres of open space and a multi-use pedestrian trail slated for the site.

The project has several unavoidable impacts on visual character, on habitat loss and solid waste impacts, but staff maintained that "the overriding benefits of the projects outweigh the impacts."

Because the applicant wanted to rezone 69 acres from agricultural to residential, a general plan amendment was required.

The county will install and maintain the trail that runs through the property.

The housing development has been in the pipeline for 11 years, and was approved by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission earlier this year.

County supervisors also got a look at a poverty report they commissioned last year, which was funded by the Santa Barbara Foundation.

The goal of the report was to identify areas of high need and service gaps in the county to better assign scarce resources.

The study identified 18 census tracts in the county where 20 percent or more of the residents were living in poverty, including Santa Barbara's lower Westside and Eastside, portions of Isla Vista, Santa Maria and Lompoc.

In 2010, a person was defined as being in poverty if he or she made $11,369 or less for a single adult and $22,162 for a household of two adults and two children.

Some of the key findings of the report found that Lompoc's high poverty area has the highest child poverty rate in the county with nearly half of children there living in poverty.

Thirty-four percent of families are in poverty in South County. 

Meanwhile, almost a third of the county's total unmet need is located in the ZIP code associated with "Santa Maria's High Poverty Area."

The findings also said found that 17 percent of county residents were uninsured in 2010.

The study also revealed that health disparities are evident in high poverty areas, and the average age of death in ZIP codes associated with high poverty areas is three years less than the average age of death in the county.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino thanked the Santa Barbara Foundation for stepping up, and said more resources from south county need to move north.

"There's too many people on welfare in California," he said, adding that higher-paying jobs are needed to increase wages to lift people out of poverty. 

Supervisor Salud Carbajal also commended the report, and said that Santa Barbara County's numbers of working poor are quite high.

"Sometimes we say that people want to be in poverty," he said, "but people don't wake up in the morning and say, 'I want to be poor.'"

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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