Santa Barbara County Planners are considering a parking lot for a potential site for housing at the Rosewood Miramar Beach. It is unknown how many units would be involved.
Santa Barbara County Planners are considering a parking lot for a potential site for housing at the Rosewood Miramar Beach. It is unknown how many units would be involved. Credit: Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo

Santa Barbara County officials are considering the Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort as a potential spot for housing, Noozhawk has learned.

The specific details are scarce, but county officials will contemplate a parking lot at the Miramar to house an undisclosed number of employees.

“Given the county of Santa Barbara’s ongoing Housing Element process, we felt it was prudent to raise our potential need for future additional employee housing units at the Miramar, adding to the four units we currently have,” a Caruso company spokesperson told Noozhawk.

The Rosewood at Miramar Beach could become a site for employee housing. It is unknown how many units would be involved. Credit: Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo

The inclusion of a Montecito property signals the first effort by the Santa Barbara County Planning Department to consider the wealthy enclave as part of its effort to meet state housing demands.

The original draft excluded Montecito, upsetting some Goleta officials and other residents who want to know why about two-thirds of the 4,500 potential South Coast housing unit sites the county identified border Goleta.

Whether the move is symbolic or substantive is unclear. In a text message, Santa Barbara First District Supervisor Das Williams said “beyond the Miramar, there remains at least one other possible site in the First District, but further analysis needs to be done.”

“I am pleased that there is a property owner in Montecito who has expressed interest in adding to their existing employee housing,” Williams said. “The Miramar already has four employee living units at the property and could use a portion of their parking areas to provide for additional employee living units onsite.”

The Caruso spokesperson said that since opening the Miramar in 2019 and operating the past three years, the company has recognized that recruiting and maintaining employees is a challenge due to limited housing options in the area.

“As with everything that we do at Caruso, we would engage in an outreach process with our neighbors, community, and our employees to inform the best options in terms of location, design and overall feasibility,” they said.

The county’s original Housing Element released in February relies primarily on the rezoning of agricultural land around the City of Goleta to meet the South Coast’s allotment.

Questions remain as to whether the county will push for larger swaths of property in Montecito, which has a population of about 10,000, for meaningful housing numbers.

The proposal to rezone Glen Annie Golf Course, at 405 Glen Annie Road in Goleta; two San Marcos Growers sites along the north side of Hollister Avenue west of South Turnpike Road; and St. Athanasius Orthodox Church property at 300 Sumida Gardens Lane near La Sumida Nursery, has angered Goleta city officials and some residents.

At Glen Annie, the proposal is to rezone the golf course for up to 1,500 units. Another 821 units would go at San Marcos Growers.

The state is requiring cities and counties to zone for housing at sites that would be developed, or otherwise lose local control of their housing process.

Much of California is experiencing a housing crisis, and the state’s mandates are designed to force communities to build – even those in wealthy areas.

For example, the state initially rejected the City of Berkeley’s Housing Element before approving its revised proposal last week. Berkeley’s plan includes about 2,000 units in wealthier neighborhoods.

Jurisdictions must demonstrate that identified sites will develop or redevelop within the 8-year Housing Element cycle, between 2023 and 2031.

The county’s next move is to release a revised version of the draft document, with all of the public comment letters included and new sites identified.

The county plans to hold public hearings through the summer of 2023, and then adopt the document. After that, it plans to formally approve the rezones.

The county has until Feb. 15, 2024, to adopt the rezones identified in the Housing Element.

Lisa Plowman, the county’s director of planning and development, said the county initially overlooked the Miramar site.

“The Miramar site is almost completely built out with the exception of their parking lots that are heavily used, and it only opened 4 years ago, thus it  was not an obvious site for more housing,” Plowman said.

“However, one of the goals of the public outreach process was to stimulate new, creative ideas for housing opportunities, and in this case, it did just that.”

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at