Glen Annie Golf Club
Glen Annie Golf Club in Goleta. Now imagine its greens and fairways replaced with housing. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County planners have proposed rezoning the Glen Annie Golf Club, San Marcos Growers, Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall and several agriculture sites to potentially build thousands of new housing units.

The sites were among several countywide locations released as part of the county’s draft Housing Element update. The county also released an interactive map that shows various scenarios.

“The department inventoried all available land in the unincorporated county to see where new housing units can be accommodated,” senior planner Selena Evilsizor Whitney said. “We found that there is not enough properly zoned land currently available to meet the state’s housing requirements. The department created the proposed rezone map to show a range of sites that could be rezoned to allow for new housing.”

The county’s current Housing Element proposal suggests that rezoning the 95 acres where the Glen Annie Golf Club sits could result in 1,536 new units; 28 acres at the San Marcos Growers 1 site could result in 821 units; and 16 acres at St. Vincent’s could lead to 175 new units. A Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall rezone could result in 75 new units. In addition, the county has proposed rezoning the land where the St. Athanasius Church sits, for potentially 400 new units.

Agriculture spots in Goleta and in the North County also are identified.

The proposed rezoning comes at a time when the county and most of coastal California are struggling with a major housing crisis. The South Coast has a severe jobs-housing imbalance, and about 15,000 people commute in and out of Santa Barbara daily from the North County and Ventura County.

The state also requires the county to update its Housing Element every eight years and show sites that could accommodate new housing. The State of California requires that Santa Barbara County planners find land, or rezone it, to build up to 5,664 new housing units. The sites must be identified and approved by the state. 

Of the total number of units, 4,142 must be on the South Coast and 1,522 units in the North County, according to a county news release.

“Every single person and group I meet with brings up the high cost of housing and how it creates and exacerbates so many other challenges, including poverty, workforce retention and transportation,” said Laura Capps, the supervisor-elect in the Second District. “Having teachers, law enforcement, firefighters and nurses stay in their jobs, afford life’s basic needs, and live in the community for which they serve is beneficial to us all.”

Capps said she would love to meet the housing needs without converting agriculture because it is “vital to the Second District and our region.” The reality, she said, is that the state is requiring every city and county in California to go through a deliberate process to identify potential housing sites and meet a high threshold of new units.

“I’m hopeful that we can strike the right balance and minimize agriculture conversion, while still satisfying our very real and urgent need for additional housing,” Capps said. “I look forward to hearing from the community on these proposed sites, and I encourage anyone who is interested in this discussion to participate in the upcoming county workshops.”

The county is considering zoning changes to allow residential instead of commercial uses on certain properties and allowing both commercial and residential uses in commercial zones. The proposed rezone map includes 45 sites on 59 parcels of land.

A county workshop is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Santa Barbara County Board Hearing Room at the Betteravia Center, 511 Lakeside Pkwy. in Santa Maria. The North County Housing Element Workshop will discuss rezoning in the North County unincorporated communities of Orcutt, Mission Hills, Santa Ynez and New Cuyama.  

A South County workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Hearing Room, 123 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

The county is preparing a draft Housing Plan, which will include public input from the workshops. Planners said it would be released in early 2023. 

The State of California in September sent a harsh letter to the City of Goleta about its draft Housing Element proposal, letting the city know that it needs to make a more serious effort to comply with mandates for state housing. The element lacks analysis and data, and parts of the document are “generic,” the letter said.

In a statement through Gina Fischer, district representative and scheduler, Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said of the county’s proposed rezoning: “As you know, the proposed maps just became public, and there will be a public discussion within the context of really aggressive state requirements for housing. I look forward to the public’s opportunity to learn more and share feedback.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com.