The City of Goleta is creating objective design standards for multiple-unit and mixed-use residential developments, allowing for a more streamlined approval process.

The standards are being developed in response to Senate Bill 35, adopted in 2017. It requires a ministerial approval process and limits any subjective review for qualifying housing projects.

Qualified projects that follow the design standards will not have to undergo review by the Design Review Board or any other city boards or commissions, but will instead go through design review and approval by city staff using the objective standards.

The projects also will be required to have either a land use permit or a coastal development permit.

“Objective design standards will allow the city to maintain control over the design of future multiple-unit dwelling housing and mixed-use residential developments and provide for streamlined and expedited application review,” according to the city, which developed a frequently asked questions page for the process.

The objective design standards address elements such as site design, building design and orientation, mixed-use design, pedestrian and vehicular circulation, parking location and utilitarian elements.

Planning and environmental review senior planner Andy Newkirk said that since SB 35 is already in effect, the city can’t use subjective design standards for qualifying projects, so the objective standards will “fill in that gap,” allowing the city to continue regulating the design of the projects.

To be eligible for this streamlined process, housing projects must meet a large list of criteria, which includes affordability levels, number of units, location, notification to California Native American tribes, and more.

Qualified projects must have two or more new residential units and dedicate at least 50% of the proposed units as affordable to households at 80% of the area median income.

The projects also must not demolish any housing units that have been occupied by tenants in the past 10 years or that are subject to any kind of rent or price control.

Other criteria that residential development projects must satisfy to qualify can be found here.

Other types of development projects or residential projects that don’t qualify still will be subject to the current application and review process and subject to discretionary review. 

On Sept. 12, the Goleta Planning Commission recommended adoption of the objective design standards to the City Council, where the standards can receive final approval after two readings by the council.

Newkirk said it will go to the City Council sometime within the next few months.

The actual objective design standards being proposed can be found in the staff report from the Planning Commission meeting, and more information on the process can be found here.

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