SB 9 — signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 16 and set to take effect on Jan. 1 — allows lots to be split roughly in half and allows for two principal dwellings on residential suburban lots.
Because SB 9 takes effect Jan. 1, the city expedited the schedule for adopting a local ordinance before that.
Some of the main amendments include changes to requirements for lot splits and conditions to protect local interests in Goleta.
For example, many of the city’s current standards for lot splits include subjective standards, but SB 9 prohibits such subjective considerations. As a result, lot splits will no longer require review from the Design Review Board, with general on-site design consistency required instead.
The commission also approved amendments that require applicants to be an individual property owner — not a corporation — and owners must reside on site for at least three years, unless it is an urban lot split.
“We think that having a requirement for the individual property owner to be on site will just help protect local interests,” said Anne Wells, advance planning manager for the city.
While this amendment was approved as part of Monday’s meeting, commissioners and assistant city attorney Winnie Cai acknowledged that the owner-occupancy requirement would be difficult to enforce.
“I think only half of our current dwellings are owner-occupied, and I just have some concerns about putting too much of a restriction on owner-occupied requirements,” Planning Commissioner Sam Ramirez said.
Other amendments put limitations on the size and height of dwellings in SB 9 projects.
Under SB 9, lots resulting from a lot split must be at least 1,200 square feet, and the city must allow lots to have up to two dwelling units of 800 square feet.
For lots greater than 2,000 square feet, there is a height limitation of 16 feet, and there is a 25-foot limitation on lots up to 2,000 square feet.
Commissioner Jennifer Fullerton pointed to the Santa Barbara City Council’s recent decision to make high-fire zones exempt from SB 9, asking if Goleta would do the same.
Wells said Goleta does not have any state-designated high-fire zones, so that would not apply.
“My insurance company says there are (high-fire zones), but OK,” Fullerton said.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposed ordinance, and it will next go to the Goleta City Council for consideration during its meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
If approved by the City Council, the urgency ordinance will go into effect on Jan. 1.
During the December meeting, the City Council also will have a first reading of a non-urgency ordinance, with amendments that do not need to be made before SB 9 goes into effect. The second reading is scheduled for Jan. 18.