City Council approves community benefit district loan for Coast Village Road

Maddy Simonsen, Staff Writer

On March 2, the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved the Coast Village Association’s request to form and fund a new community benefit district for Coast Village Road. 

The Coast Village Association (CVA) has been working tirelessly to receive funding and support to create a community benefit district for Coast Village Road, which runs through Montecito, parallel to the 101 freeway. Jason Harris, Santa Barbara’s economic development manager, stated during the March 2 city council meeting: “Community benefit districts are … created for the purpose of establishing a stable revenue source to fund special benefit services within a targeted business district.” He explained that, after a public hearing process, property owners in these districts “pay property assessments to fund special services above and beyond general service levels.” 

Trey Pinner, a member on the Board of Directors of the CVA, shared in the city council meeting that he believed this ordinance will help Coast Village Road to better thrive in the next decade. Councilwoman Kristen Snedden maintained that this ordinance will allow the district to invest in itself by beautifying the street and enacting better traffic safety measures. The community benefit district would improve Coast Village Road through beautification measures and other projects to create an enjoyable atmosphere for residents and Montecito guests.

Currently, the CVA is seeking a loan from the city to form this community benefit district. Harris stated, “The Coast Village Association is seeking a $30,000 funding request from the city to help pay for the consultant services to prepare the formation documents,” and explained that the city will “incur up to $10,000 in outside legal expenses to review and prepare the necessary city documents to the process.”

 At the moment, the city has not negotiated with the CVA to determine the terms for the loan, but the association has proposed to pay off the loan in the first several years of the assessment district’s formation. Harris emphasized that the city will present the terms in a management meeting if the association is successful.  

In the March 2 city council meeting, Harris described the state law for forming assessment districts. Ultimately, the districts are formed after completing two steps. The “state law requires 50 percent of property owners to return petitions in support of the effort.” When the property owners successfully petition, the assessment district is established on the ballot. Then the district must receive over 50 percent of the votes to become an official assessment district. 

While the state mandates that the ballot receive 50 percent of the votes for the community benefit district to legally exist, the law does allow for the city to choose to lower the petition threshold. Harris shared, “The Coast Village Association is recommending the city to adopt an enabling ordinance that sets the petition threshold to 30 percent … to recognize the low rate of return of the mail-in petitions and address non-engaged property owners.”  

The City Council unanimously motioned in the meeting to approve the Coast Village Association’s request, agreeing to lower the threshold to 30 percent and followed the staff recommendations for funding, allocating $30,000 for the loan to the association and up to $10,000 in external fees. With this vote, the Coast Village Association can begin to launch their petition to establish a new community benefit district for Coast Village Road.

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