Mixed-use development on Cota Street
Many of the recent housing projects in Santa Barbara were built using the Average Unit-sized Density Incentive Program, including the mixed-use development at 604 E. Cota St.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

An analysis of Santa Barbara’s last five years of residential development shows a surge of accessory dwelling units built all over the city, and the controversial Average Unit-size Density Incentive Program was responsible for many of the completed multi-unit rental properties.

About 470 net new residential units were given certificates of occupancy in the city since Jan. 1, 2014 — including single-family homes, apartments and condominiums — and the majority of the 190-plus projects added one unit: an accessory dwelling unit, a detached studio unit, or a unit above a garage.

California passed a law in 2016 requiring cities to allow ADUs to increase affordable housing stock, and last year, the Santa Barbara City Council decided to allow ADUs in all residential areas, except the extreme foothill high-fire zones, and require them to be owner-occupied.

The city has received more than 345 applications for accessory dwelling units, and certificates of occupancy had been issued for about 80 of them as of March 1, meaning they are already permitted, built and allowed to be occupied.

Recent residential projects

The city Planning Commission is getting a progress report on the city’s Housing Element and the Planning Division’s work program at its Thursday meeting, and may recommend priorities for the next two fiscal years.

Commissioners recently heard about possible impacts of state housing legislative changes, which Assistant City Attorney Tava Ostrenger said were “basically designed to strip local control.”

California’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocates housing units to each county, which then breaks it down by cities and income levels.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Government’s report for the 2014-2022 period has goals of building 11,030 units county wide and 4,099 in Santa Barbara.

Progress through 2017 showed the city had permitted 667 units (16 percent) of its goal, with the most units in the above-moderate-income range.

Planning commissioners will get an update this week when they meet at 1 p.m. Thursday in the City Hall Council Chambers at 735 Anacapa St.

In response to state housing legislation, which aims to streamline development, city planners are developing objective design standards for local projects.

Arlington Village apartment building

The Arlington Village project at 1330 Chapala St. built 33 apartments on a parking lot site in downtown Santa Barbara.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara leaders also are pondering changes to the AUD Incentive Program to encourage more affordable housing, and more projects in the downtown core,

Completed projects have rents higher than the average market rates, and the Planning Commission considered rent restrictions to force affordability; they rejected the move after an inadequate consultant study, but it may come up again.

Of the recently completed projects responsible for adding more than two net new units, many of them were built through the AUD Program.

Residential projects issued certificates of occupancy between Jan. 1, 2014, and Feb. 28, 2019, that added more than two net new units include:

» 240 W. Alamar Ave.: Demolish a single-family home to build a four-unit condominium complex.

» 130 S. Alisos St.: AUD project adding an eight-unit residential building.

» 412 Anacapa St: A new mixed-use building with three residential units.

» 822 E. Canon Perdido St: A Habitat For Humanity project with 10 affordable condos.  

» 1330 Chapala St.: AUD residential project, Arlington Village, with 33 units.

» 203 Chapala St.: Demolish commercial facilities and build seven condos.

» 604 E. Cota St.: AUD mixed-use project adding 25 residential units

» 517 W. Figueroa St.: New apartment building adding six units.

» 513 Garden St.: New mixed-use building added to commercial lot, with nine new residential units.

» 1759 Grand Ave.: Building three condos on a vacant lot.

» 316 W. Micheltorena/1516 Castillo St.: A 21-unit AUD residential project that adds five net new units.

» 901 Olive St.: Adding 19 apartments to an office building.

» 312 Rancheria St.: AUD apartment project adding seven units on a vacant property.

» 510 N. Salsipuedes St.: A Peoples’ Self-Help Housing 40-unit affordable housing project built through the AUD program.

» 3880 State St: Demolish some commercial space for a new 13-unit apartment complex.

» 3885 State St.: AUD project building mixed-use buildings with 89 new residential units, The Marc.

» 34 W. Victoria St.: Demolish commercial property to build mixed-use buildings including the 37 Alma Del Pueblo condos and Santa Barbara Public Market.  

» 505 Wentworth Ave.: A three-unit rental housing building.

There are dozens of other residential projects in the planning process, including ones going through the AUD Program, which the city tracks here.

Recent hotel projects and short-term rentals

State and Mason streets in Santa Barbara

The large Hotel Californian complex on State and Mason streets on Santa Barbara’s waterfront was a long time coming.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

More than 450 new hotel rooms have been built recently or are in the planning process in Santa Barbara, with some using development rights from the former Sandman Inn, a property being turned into the Estancia Santa Barbara condo project.

The completed Lower State Street Hotel Californian has 123 rooms, and the nearby Harbor View Inn North Wing at 101 State St. is done with construction.

The Days Inn at 116 Castillo St. has a building permit to replace the hotel with a larger one, and La Quinta at State and Arrellaga streets has a building permit to demolish its small motor court annex and built a three-story hotel in its place, adding dozens of rooms, according to city records.

The city gave project approval in December to the Parker family’s Waterfront Hotel at 433 Cabrillo Blvd, now proposed to have 60 rooms, and other pending hotel projects, include a 111-room hotel at 926 Indio Muerto St., near the Milpas Street commercial corridor; a 16-room hotel on a former auto dealership lot at 517 Chapala St.; and a 34-room hotel at 302 and 308 W. Montecito St.

Harbor View Inn on State and Mason streets

Recent hotel projects include the Harbor View Inn North Wing at State and Mason streets.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

In addition to hotel projects, the city’s list of development projects shows at least 13 recent conversions of residential units to short-term rentals, from one-bedroom units to three-bedroom single-family homes, with more applications pending.

Click here for lists of pending and completed development projects in Santa Barbara. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.