Villa La Esperanza on South Kellogg Avenue, near the neighborhood park in Old Town Goleta, offers more than 80 units of affordable housing in Goleta.
Villa La Esperanza on South Kellogg Avenue, near the neighborhood park in Old Town Goleta, offers more than 80 units of affordable housing in Goleta. The Goleta City Council on Tuesday received a presentation on the current status of affordable housing units and agreements within the city. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Affordable housing and California’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation were discussed by the Goleta City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

The need for affordable housing across the state has been “exacerbated” in the past several years as homelessness and housing costs have grown, according to city staff.

Goleta has 24 affordable housing projects, which make up a total of 479 affordable units for “very low-income to above moderate-income” households, according to Ryan Kintz, assistant to the city manager.

Of the city’s available affordable units, Kintz said, 140 are part of nine homeownership projects, and 339 are part of 17 multifamily rental housing.

Twenty projects have confirmed covenant expiration dates, and the Winchester Commons and Pacific Palms affordable housing projects have expired so far. Fourteen affordable units were lost at Winchester Commons and 16 at Pacific Palms as a result.

Five more projects will expire in the next 10 years.

Affordable units become market-rate units when the term of an affordable housing agreement expires, according to Goleta staff.

“We have a couple coming up pretty soon, and that’s going to be here before we know it,” Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte said of the existing affordable housing stock and expiration dates. “We need to keep this on our radar.”

Perotte said that “what we need is affordable housing right now.”

Affordable units lost because of term expiration of an affordable deed restriction do not add to Goleta’s obligations under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA, Goleta staff said.

As part of a separate item, the Goleta City Council received an update on the RHNA and how it’s expected to affect Goleta.

Goleta’s only obligation is to accommodate the city’s share of the regional housing need and provide for adequate residentially zoned land to accommodate that share, city Planning and Environmental Review Director Peter Imhof said.

“To that degree, we are doing extremely well because we have a certified housing element the state has recognized as adequate to accommodate that,” Imhof said.

The city’s housing element includes policies supporting the creation, maintenance and preservation of affordable housing in Goleta.

Goleta has constructed 479 units of the 979 total units that the city had to accommodate, according to Imhof. More units built this year — as well as in 2021 and in 2022 — will add to the total, he said.

The city has provided mostly “above moderate” units, Imhof said. The income range for “above moderate” is more than $95,500 per year, according to Goleta’s staff report.

This year, Imhof said, Goleta is anticipating there will be “a number of affordable units, especially at the Village of Los Carneros, that will come online and we’ll get credit for, but on balance, we are doing well on the above-moderate category.”

The city is “falling short” in the extremely “low, very low and moderate-income” categories based on countywide median income, Imhof said.

“So basically, we are doing a pretty good job of building market-rate and luxury housing,” Councilman James Kyriaco said. “Not so much with the lower-end types.”

Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards said he wanted to ensure that Goleta is “actually getting more affordable housing out of this process, and that it’s not just about fulfilling some zoning for the right density.”

Richards said he’s concerned about gentrification, and he wants to make “sure we can do what we can to avoid gentrifying areas such as Old Town.”

Imhof said the city is aware of several concerns “on the planning side, and we’re doing our best to take a holistic view of all of those issues,” such as transportation and the environment.

Potential housing development on a property is deemed suitable for low-income housing if zoning and development standards for that property allow housing at a density of at least 20 units per acre, according to the staff report.

“We will have a challenge with that because our vacant land inventory is dwindling because we are building out housing,” Goleta’s advance planning manager Anne Wells said.

California law requires each city to adopt a “comprehensive, long-term general plan for its physical development,” Wells said.

Some state grant funds are contingent upon the housing element certification, according to Wells.

Affordable housing in Goleta.

Affordable housing in Goleta. (City of Goleta map)

The state Department of Housing and Community Development determines the housing need for each region for the so-called planning period, and the region apportions the housing need across local jurisdictions within the region. The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments fulfills the role in the county.

More than 29,300 housing units are needed between 2023 and 2031 in the county, according to preliminary numbers. That is a 166 percent increase compared with the current Regional Housing Needs Allocation cycle for a planning period between 2015 and 2023.

The final number should be released later this year.

Of the 29,313 units, 16,000 are related to Senate Bill 828 that factors in overcrowding, cost burden and changes to vacancy rate calculations when analyzing for regional housing needs.

Overcrowding is defined as more than one person per room (excluding bathrooms and kitchens), and overpayment is defined as paying more than 30 percent of a household’s gross income for housing, Wells said.

A “person” is a broad definition under state law, Wells added.

“Regionally and locally in Goleta, we have issues with overcrowding and overpayment,” Wells said. “We are going to have a larger regional housing need as a result. The bottom line is, we have a housing-constrained market. The state is pushing on the region to plan for, not necessarily build, but more to solve the problem of affordable housing needs.”

In addition to accounting for future growth, the region also is planning to relieve conditions that have developed over time, said Lauren Bianchi Klemann, government affairs and public information manager for SBCAG.

Santa Barbara County and cities in the county have 18 months to update their local housing elements after SBCAG finishes the RHNA process in 2021.

The state uses a formula largely defined by law to determine housing need, according to SBCAG. Areas with no or little remaining vacant land must update their housing elements and identify other means of accommodating the RHNA, Goleta staff explained.

Perotte said she thinks the topic “is important for the public to hear what is going on.”

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