Developer digs up low-cost housing

Chris Cadelago

To combat the high costs of housing in Santa Barbara, a local development company broke ground today on a 14-unit condominium complex, seven of which will be allotted for City College faculty and staff.

“I would definitely consider it,” said second-year Assistant-Professor Adam Green. “The idea is that it’s the only thing I could possibly purchase in Santa Barbara.”

The medium home price in Santa Barbara reached $1.2 million in June, while the staring salary for a first-year teacher ranges from $39,758 to $49,817. The units will be offered for $298,000, or a fraction of their market value.

The project, named Santa Fe Village, began in 2002 when developer Mark Lloyd’s wife suggested he include affordable units on an eight-acre plot just five blocks from campus. Six single-family homes will be built above the complex.

College administrators have acknowledged that the duplex-style units will act as recruiting-bait for the college, which regularly loses top faculty prospects to cheaper areas.

“I know personally that faculty members have left because they couldn’t afford to live here,” said Academic Senate President Kathy Molloy.

“I suppose a number of people decide not to apply based on housing prices,” added Dr. Jack Friedlander, executive vice president of educational programs.

One Man’s Solution

Lloyd, of L&P Consultants and an alumnus of Pasadena Community College, said his family has benefited greatly from City College. His three children all attended, as did his wife.

“I can’t tell you what this school has done for us,” he said. “I feel like this is just a small way of giving back something to the college.”

When Lloyd pitched the blueprints at a Santa Barbara City Planning and Development hearing the board denied the project, saying six single-family homes that sit atop a large complex were too dense.

Fire roads had little access and they argued then 12 duplex-style condos were unattractive. Lloyd returned a few months later with the idea to donate seven condos to City College. He said the board was so impressed they asked him to build 17. He settled on 14, each with a 420-foot attached garage.

The city awarded him a density bonus allowing the development of more homes above, in exchange for more affordable units below.

“This is the right site and these were the right circumstances,” he said “The location makes it easy to promote walking and biking to campus. It really has worked out well.”

The Project

A new Santa Barbara County regulation, called the inclusionary housing policy, calls for developers to dedicate 15 percent of their units to affordable housing. Lloyd offered 50 percent.

“This was four years ago, before an affordability component was required in Santa Barbara,” said Lloyd.

“I had no requirement to build any; this was something I did for the college and the community.”

The Foundation for City College, a non-profit money-generating engine, agreed to purchase seven of the two-bedroom units from Lloyd for just over $2 million. Upon completion they will turn them over to the city where a lottery will determine its owners. The Foundation will not profit from the deal.

The condos, located on Santa Fe Place and Cliff Drive, should be completed inside of 16 months. They will measure 1,050 square feet and include two bedrooms and two bathrooms. A living area, kitchen, separate dining space and picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean are also expected.