The city of Goleta wants Montecito and Hope Ranch to step up and build housing to help solve the housing crisis.
The Goleta City Council voted 5-0 Monday night to send a scathing letter to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
About two-thirds of the 4,500 potential housing units on the South Coast identified by the county — and mandated by the state — border the city of Goleta.
In contrast, none of the county’s proposed rezones for housing are in Montecito or Hope Ranch.
“Should rezones be required, new sites in more affluent, white, and larger-lot/underutilized sites in Montecito and Hope Ranch, for example, will expand housing equity opportunities and protect the disadvantaged community located in Old Town,” states the letter signed by the full City Council.
The letter asks the county to reconsider its proposed sites for new housing, and to consider agricultural land only as a last resort.
The county only proposed to rezone land where the property owners agreed to build housing, a system that Goleta City Councilman James Kyriaco called backwards.
“The county’s approach acts like an exclusionary housing policy, benefiting wealthy and well-connected areas,” Kyriaco said. “No sites are proposed in Montecito, Summerland or Hope Ranch.
“Meanwhile, the Goleta planning area is expected to accommodate 89% of the total rezones.”
In the past eight years, Goleta has built more than 1,300 housing units and another 332 are in the pipeline.
Kyriaco said the housing crisis affects “all our communities,” not just Goleta.
“For a board of supervisors that often talks about housing in moral terms, I am surprised to see them considering a plan that asks so little of communities that already have so much,” Kyriaco said.
The Glen Annie Golf Club could house up 1,536 units; another 821 units would go at San Marcos Growers.
The former Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall in the Goleta Valley could result in 75 new units.
The county has proposed rezoning the land where the St. Athanasius Church sits, 300 Sumida Gardens Lane, to build up to 400 units.
Most of the South Patterson agriculture properties are proposed for rezoning.
County planners and some elected officials have said they want to promote housing near jobs, services and transit, but some sites proposed, the Glen Annie Golf Club, for example, are not near services and there’s only one road leading to the golf course.
While there are thousands of service jobs in Montecito and Hope Ranch, no housing is proposed for those workers, near those jobs.
Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte said the region is “undeniably in a housing crisis,” and the housing on the South Coast is too expensive.
“This crisis is long in the making, and didn’t just happen overnight, or even in the past decade,” Perotte said.
The letter also states that the county should study the demographics of the areas it is proposing to rezone.
“The impact of high housing costs falls disproportionately on extremely low-, very low-,
and low-income households, especially renters,” the letter states. “Neighborhoods such as Hope Ranch and Montecito are segregated, leaving people of color and lower income in concentrated locations such as the Goleta Valley.
Overcrowding, overpayment and other problems result from segregation that can be confronted in this Housing Element update.
Isolating the more affluent neighborhoods from the Regional Housing Needs Assessment exacerbates segregation by income group.”
The letter also criticizes the county for its lack of public outreach until the last minute. The Regional Housing Needs Assessment was approved July 15, 2021, yet the draft housing element was only released in February of 2023.
“The County started development of its Housing Element update late, and is rushing the
process,” the letter states. “Equitable engagement is important, and changing the Housing Element based on what was learned from the outreach takes time.”
In response to questions from Noozhawk, First District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams, who is also chair of the Board of Supervisors, offered this statement:
“Two weeks ago, we received a lot of encouragement to build needed housing from Goleta and Santa Barbara educators priced out of their own community, and we are happy to get other suggestions that could help achieve both a better life here and needed housing,” Williams said.
“To respond to the request, I am attempting to add a site for employer housing in Montecito.”
The deadline for public comment on the housing Element is Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Goleta City Councilman Kyle Richards said he is disappointed with county officials.
“We expect more from the county,” Richards said. “We expect more as a regional partner.”
Richards said the developers should not be calling the shots on which properties to rezone.
“That’s not the way it is supposed to work,” Richards said. “It’s disappointing that the county didn’t do more outreach.”
Goleta City Councilwoman Luz Reyes-Martin said the community has a long history of standing up to property owners who want to build housing on agricultural land, citing the Ellwood Mesa Preserve.
It’s important to get the rezoning right, she said, “because you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
“When private property owners make decisions not in the best interest of the public, we fight back,” Reyes-Martin said.