A financial tool for the Brisa Encina affordable housing project near Lompoc has received the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors blessing.
Board members on Tuesday unanimously approved the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County issuing tax-exempt multi-family housing revenue obligations to fund the Brisa Encina apartment project in Mission Hills.
Approval followed a public hearing under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, or TEFRA, allowing non-profit organizations to access municipal bond markets.
The project will seek an amount not to exceed $11.5 million.
Under the financing tool, the Housing Authority will be the issuer of the bonds while Brisa Encina will be the borrower.
“The county will incur no obligations, either moral or legal, for the repayment of the debt. It does not affect our credit rating in any way,” Treasurer-Tax Collector Harry Hagen said.
The $21 million Brisa Encina project would create 49 apartment units at 1498 Burton Mesa Blvd. under a joint venture with Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation, according to developer Frank Thompson.
“The project’s fully approved for land use by the county, and this is our next step to get a complete financing package so that we can begin construction,” Thompson said.
Land-use and zoning approvals were granted in August 2022.
Grading at the site could start in September, with construction done and apartments ready for residents around October 2024, Thompson told Noozhawk.
Twelve units have been set aside for 12 formerly homeless veterans, with 13 studio units reserved for tenants with special needs.
“We have a market study that shows there’s a tremendous need, and we all know we have a tremendous need in the community,” Thompson said.
The remaining 24 units will include one- and two-bedroom units with rents set at very low-income levels. A manager would live on site.
Additionally, the project calls for an on-site child-care facility for up to 49 youngsters in a separate building at the site.
Thompson said CommUnify has worked closely with the developer on establishing a Head Start program at the facility.
Third District county Supervisor Joan Hartmann, who formerly represented the area, recalled the neighbors’ concerns about the proposal leading to meetings and revisions to the project.
“This project really developed with the input of the neighbors and the responsiveness of Mr. Thompson and his team,” Hartmann said. “I think it’s going to be a real asset to the neighborhood.”
Initially, Brisa Encina proposed 70 units, leading Mission Hills residents to object and install “No on Brisa Encina” signs in the community. The revised plan still raised objections.
Hartmann and Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson, who now represents the area, complimented Thompson’s approach to development of affordable housing.
“I kind of hold you up there as the gold standard for other developers that are coming into this space,” Nelson said. “A lot of people are coming into our community to stack and pack and not really think about the residents that are going to be living there or the community around them.”