Santa Barbara plans to improve transportation, add new housing

Maddy Simonsen, Staff Writer

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, or SBCAG, is currently planning to modernize and implement new housing and transportation structures for the next thirty years. The Association is actively looking for input on how best support the community through improved transportation networks and new housing units, and will work towards finalizing plans within the next year.

The organization anticipates that it will receive additional funding from the state to build 29,313 new housing units.”

For the years between 2020 and 2050, Santa Barbara County has an estimated 11.6 billion dollars allocated for maintaining and building the transportation network. While most of the money will be used for sustaining the current structures in place, the county is planning major regional projects to improve Santa Barbara’s infrastructural capacity. SBCAG has stated that it will soon release an interactive map of their projects so that residents can explore the changes that will take place. 

While Santa Barbara anticipates improving its network through smaller projects, the city is additionally working on how to transform the system to best serve the community. Those involved with the city have produced three scenarios to reduce carbon emissions while allowing individuals of lower socioeconomic status to possess safe and reliable transit options. Two of these options focus on bringing jobs to the housing areas so that individuals are not required to travel as far for work and transportation is less strained. The other option focuses on alternative modes such as subways or buses to provide inexpensive and reliable options. 

Additionally, SBCAG continues to plan for new housing. The organization anticipates that it will receive additional funding from the state to build 29,313 new housing units. They report that this number has increased greatly due to the new law SB 828, which provides additional housing based on the cost of burden and overcrowding present in the county. While SBCAG admits that generally only half of the budgeted residences are delivered, the new developments will reduce the strain on Santa Barbara’s limited housing.

At this time, SBCAG is preparing for the use of these new developments. The organization stresses that it looks to increase the supply and types of housing, prompt socioeconomic equity, and contribute to a better relationship between housing and jobs through the new developments. To produce these goals, SBCAG is intentionally reaching out to the community through polls, taking into account the population and population growth, and analyzing jobs and job growth in the region. These measures will contribute to the planning process and better inform decisions. 

The process of approving these housing measures will take approximately a year. Before the county can further this project, it must receive final approved housing and monetary numbers. Then the local government must agree upon a plan and the state must obtain the county’s methodology. By August 2021, the final proposal will be approved and can commence.