CPA Requests that Housing Authority Be a Major Player in the Paseo Nuevo Housing Proposals

RE: Agenda Item 13, Recommendation “A”:

TO: Mayor Randy Rowse and Council members: E. Friedman, A. Gutierrez, O. Gutierrez, M. Harmon, M. Jordan, K. Sneddon;

Dear Mayor Rowse and Council members:

Citizens Planning Association has been part of SB City planning process for more than 60 years. Although focused on the present and future, we know that the foundations are laid in the past, strengthened over the years. CPA members undoubtedly participated in the citywide land use discussions, often controversial, that culminated in the development of the Paseo Nuevo. We expect similarly in the present: an outreach to residents is no less important now than it was then, perhaps even more so, since now there is a greater population diversity and we lack of a daily city-wide print media. We depend on you, our representatives.

CPA members watched your September 19 council meeting, listening intently to the rather unexpected and “stunning” (per Noozhawk) presentation on the Paseo Nuevo. Details were lacking, except that it was hoped by council lmembers for this most valuable property in Santa Barbara that there would be “affordable” housing! The Project Agreement (PA) does state: “A designated number of units will be affordable to a variety of income levels (with details to) “be determined”…. Mentioned is a “requirement” for ”height in excess of 60 feet (as specified in our City Charter) at certain locations of the property”. Where? Why? Starting from what baseline?

There is no mention in the PA of the participation of the Housing Authority. In his December 6th email/letter to City Administrator Bjork, H.A. Executive Director Rob Fredericks states, “With our involvement, there is a potential to achieve 30%-40% affordability in the residential units by synergizing local funding avenues with additional sources….” And, he continues, “The Housing Authority could underwrite the affordable units employing local, state and federal funds, while the private developer would retain ownership of the market-rate units. …” And the Housing Authority could oversee management, etc. for those units.

Mr. Fredericks recommended a meeting of the participants, to include the Housing Authority, Alliance Bernstein, the Ciity Administrator and staff and, presumably, the City Council representing the Santa Barbara public. Mr. Fredericks also mentions considering the option of being “the sole developer of the residential units.” Has that meeting taken place? There is no reference to one.

CPA suggests that such a meeting needs to take place before any other actions are taken. We also think that the residents of Santa Barbara need to be kept informed about what is being considered for this most important space of our downtown that will affect many blocks of our City center. At the least, assuming there has been outreach to the businesses in the general Paseo Nuevo area and the Santa Barbara public generally, there needs to be coordination with the State Street Advisory Committee.

Please postpone this agenda item until that informational outreach can be done.

Yours sincerely,

Marell Brooks
President of Citizens Planning Association