County of Santa Barbara Long Range Planning Division

2003-2008 Housing Element Update

housing photoUnder State law, Housing Elements must be updated every five years and submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for review. The current Housing Element planning period runs from 2003 through 2008. After a jurisdiction prepares its Housing Element, it is required to submit the element to HCD for review and HCD is required to issue findings certifying whether the element substantially complies with state Housing Element law.

Housing Elements must also demonstrate that sufficient vacant or underdeveloped land is available with appropriate zoning to accommodate the housing needs of each of these economic categories. The emphasis of the analysis is on the very-low and low income categories, which together are referred to as lower-income. For suburban jurisdictions, State law establishes 20 dwelling units per acre (du/ac)  as the minimum density required to facilitate the development of housing at prices or rents that are affordable to lower-income families in Santa Barbara County.

Conditional Certification
Housing Element certification is important for several reasons: to maintain eligibility for certain grant funding programs, to ensure the legal adequacy of the General Plan, and to preserve local control of land use decisions.  The 2003–2008 Housing Element update has proceeded in two phases: the “adoption” and the “action” phases. The first phase detailed:

The adoption phase was completed on May 9, 2006 when the Board approved the 2003-2008 Housing Element. The element was submitted to State HCD, who issued findings in a letter dated August 2, 2006 that the County of Santa Barbara’s Housing Element was conditionally incompliance with state housing law.

The land inventory analysis contained in the Housing Element (p. 117-126) examined both vacant and “underdeveloped” parcels (i.e., parcels where existing zoning would allow more intensive development). This analysis concluded that based on current zoning, the land inventory would need to be increased by 1,235 units to accommodate the need for lower-income housing identified in the RHNA. This shortfall led the County to adopt Policy 1.10: Action Item 1, which requires the rezoning of 62 acres necessary to accommodate 1,235 lower-income units to complete the County’s current RHNA assignment of 6,064 units. On February 24, 2009, a focused rezone program was adopted by the Board of Supervisors, addressing the County's RHNA shortfall.


Housing Element Focused Rezone Program

Housing Element Documents

Related Project Information


Public Hearings


Public Participation



Housing Related Links


Dan Klemann, Deputy Director: