Santa Maria Planning Commission.
Santa Maria Planning Commission members Yasameen Mohajer, Esau Blanco and Tim Seifert listen to colleague Robert Dickerson, not pictured, on Wednesday night. Commissioner Tom Lopez was absent from the meeting about a project he had previously abstained from discussing because of a conflict of interest. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

After the applicant tweaked the plans, the first phase of a massive build-for-rent residential project received approval from the Santa Maria Planning Commission on Wednesday night.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve homes for the Blosser Ranch Southeast project, weeks after delaying a vote because of an apparent tie amid questions about the build-for-rent market and whether the project complied with a plan spelling out requirements for development.

Commissioner Tom Lopez was absent, but he previously abstained from the discussion and vote in March because of a likely conflict of interest.

On Wednesday, planning commissioners considered only the first phase of the project involving 105 single-family homes and 96 ADUs in a gated community on nearly 17 acres. The broader projects envisions 1,500 residential units once fully built by 2030.

“The fact that these are single-family units, the fact that they’re available for our community, I think that’s a real plus,” chair Tim Seifert said. 

“I think the project is going to benefit the city in a number of ways, but most importantly to provide housing,” Commissioner Yasameen Mohajer said.

“I like the way things have progressed and been revised. I think the applicant’s been very flexible and considerate of the whole progress … and the product is looking really good,” Commissioner Esau Blanco said.

Canfield Development has proposed multiple types of housing and public amenities for a large site bordered by Blosser, Stowell and Battles roads and Depot Street in the Blosser-Southeast 5B Specific Plan. Both single-family and high-density residential projects are proposed along with assorted amenities.

The site also would include sports fields, a school and a fire station. 

In the first phase, each lot would have two garage spaces, two driveway spaces and a pair of spaces for the ADU. On-street parking would be banned, but guest spaces would be included along with electric-vehicle charging stations for residents as well as guests.

Amenities would include a dog run and a dog washing station, barbecues, a package delivery center to avoid porch pirates, a pool, a community center with a children’s study room, and more.

The previous plan included carports for the ADUs, but Canfield dropped the proposal after city staff determined that it would not comply with the specific plan.

Since mid-March, Canfield tweaked its plan to propose installing Hollywood driveways or two strips of concrete separated by a strip of unpaved area and widening sidewalks in the project.

Another change involved extending the driveways by 1 foot to accommodate the length a large pickup truck.

The developer plans to rent all of the residential units but would have the option to sell the homes if the market changes, a Canfield representative said. 

Several speakers urged the commission to approve the project. Glenn Morris, chief executive officer and president of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the applicant has been transparent about plans to keep the residences as rental units and by adding ADUs at the outset.

Canfield has complied with commissioners’ suggestions and requests, Morris said.

“I think their behavior gives them a benefit of the doubt that they will be good members of our community and good citizens moving forward,” Morris said, noting the need for more housing and clear support for the project. 

In March, Blanco expressed concern that the project violated some aspects of the Blosser specific plan or blueprint guiding future development, leading to his opposition. 

Instead of five modifications of development standard under the specific plan, the applicant sought three under the proposal considered this week.

Commissioner Robert Dickerson previously expressed concern about  the future impact on local rental market rates by having a larger number of units under the control of one owner. On Wednesday, he said those worries remain.

“With that being said, I can’t in good conscience base my decisions on anything I don’t have evidentiary support of,” Dickerson said. 

A stylized hawk's head on a red background

Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at