Residential Project Evaluation Guidelines

The Coalition encourages both ownership housing and rental housing, due to the shortage of housing existing in our community.

For projects that meet the general criteria set forth by Coastal Housing Coalition and which otherwise meet the approval of the Project Evaluation Committee, the Coastal Housing Coalition will consider publicly endorsing new residential development before appropriate public bodies.

This may take the form of a letter of support, or where it is believed that the development proposal meets the goals of Coastal Housing Coalition in an outstanding manner, public appearances by the Coastal Housing Coalition members or staff will be provided.

  • Projects should be submitted to the Coastal Housing Coalition by request of the project proponent at least 5 weeks prior to public hearing to allow the item to be scheduled for approval by the Coastal Housing Coalition Board of Directors, which meets on the second Monday of the month.

  • Application to the Project Evaluation Committee shall not be interpreted as imposing on the Coastal Housing Coalition an obligation to approve any endorsement request.
    To proceed with review by the Project Evaluation Committee, please review the Coalition’s Project Evaluation Criteria and fill out the Project Application.


The purpose of this document is to identify the parameters under which the Coastal Housing Coalition will advocate for the approval of new housing projects under review before local public agencies. This document is intended to guide decisions by the Project Review Committee on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Coastal Housing Coalition as well as to provide information about Coastal Housing Coalition’s interests to those seeking our support.

All projects considered for endorsement generally must be located within the urban area; projects outside of urban areas will be considered only under special circumstances.

The Coastal Housing Coalition (The Coalition) believes that the significant lack of middle income housing in the South Coast area is a serious problem that severely and negatively impacts the ability of local businesses to attract and keep talented employees. If businesses, nonprofits or public agencies on the South Coast are not able to attract the best qualified employees, there will continue to be an adverse effect on the economic, social and environmental vitality of this region.

While The Coalition favors production of housing at all affordability ranges, we especially support housing developments that provide homes affordable to middle income households, defined as 120%-200% of County median income.

We do not place emphasis on ownership housing as opposed to rental housing. Because of the severe shortage of housing locally, we recognize that rental and ownership housing are equally important.

The Coalition desires that new development result in attractive, aesthetically-pleasing built environments where people enjoy living.

For projects that meet the general criteria set forth below and which otherwise meet the approval of the Board of Directors, the Project Review Committee, acting on behalf of the Board of Directors, will consider endorsing new housing development before appropriate public bodies. This may take the form of a letter of support, or where it is believed that the development proposal meets the goals of The Coalition in an outstanding manner, public appearances by The Coalition members or staff may be provided.

Procedures for Endorsement of Housing Developments:

The following procedures shall govern The Coalition’s consideration of endorsement requests:

  • We encourage application for review of projects as early as possible, including while they are in the conceptual stage. Application forms are available on the Voices for Housing website or by contacting The Coalition at (805) 570-1250.

  • Applications for project review should be submitted to The Coalition by the project proponent at least 5 weeks prior to any public hearing to allow the item sufficient time to be scheduled for consideration of the Project Review Committee.

  • Projects reviewed by the Committee will be analyzed using the general guidelines adopted by the Committee and approved by the Board of Directors.

  • Projects endorsed by the Project Review Committee do not require further review by the Board of Directors unless requested by at least two members of the Board.

  • A decision to endorse or withhold support for specific projects does not necessarily represent the opinion of each individual member of the Committee or of its Board of Directors.

Evaluating Project Criteria & Guidelines:

The following factors contribute to a successful affordable and workforce housing project and will be used by the Project Review Committee when evaluating projects:

  1. Unit Size. Smaller unit sizes rather than larger unit sizes are a more appropriate use of land. We encourage housing to be built at maximum allowed density, but not necessarily at maximum unit size. Smaller units are generally less expensive to build and will generally be more affordably priced than larger units.

  2. Density. We encourage density/compact development of residential projects because it is a more efficient use of land, the ultimate limited resource. Building more compactly is also an important key to any community or region becoming more sustainable in such things as energy and water use, transportation, and residential diversity.

  3. Second Units. We are supportive of second units within single family housing zones, where appropriately designed with provision of adequate services and parking.

  4. Affordability. The housing or mixed-use proposal includes a mix of affordable housing for upper moderate-income households and/or “workforce housing” (120%–200% of AMI). The Coalition is generally not interested in projects which propose minimum levels of affordability, but encourages projects resulting in a significantly higher percentage of affordable units than required. Affordability should be protected as long as legally possible. If endorsed by The Coalition, a project with a greater percentage of affordable/workforce housing will receive proportionally greater support.

  5. Project provides for mixed uses within a neighborhood. The project serves to integrate community activities- (i.e. housing, work, shopping, entertainment, recreation, and schools) either by providing them onsite or locating the project in close proximity to some or all of these uses.

  6. Project promotes public transit and transportation choices. The project reduces auto dependency by being located within reasonable walking distances (generally defined as a 5-10 minutes walk) from bus service, major transit center, commercial center, or major transit corridor. A project’s distance can vary based on the “walkability” of the topography. The project should not exceed the minimum standard parking allowance under current zoning. Extra support will be given to projects that reduce parking where appropriate, particularly in areas that are transit-accessible.

  7. Design and Construction. Structures and landscaping are well-done and appropriate to the neighborhood in terms of style, function, and aesthetics. (“Appropriate” does not imply “sameness” or “homogeneous,” but recognizes that mixed uses and various designs already exist successfully in the South Coast neighborhoods and should be used as guides for new projects.)The project should be planned to be integrated with or improving existing street patterns, walkways and bicycle paths, with connections between adjacent neighborhoods, services and public transportation, enhancing pedestrian-oriented circulation and strengthening a sense of community identity. Innovative parking design, which eliminates visual impacts by location, and/or screening, or projects which use shared parking are encouraged. Projects utilizing “green building” techniques, such as use of nonvolatile, recyclable materials; achievement of high energy efficiencies; use of porous paving and landscaping; creation of appropriate buffers around natural areas; and enhanced sound proofing of dwellings are also strongly encouraged. Inclusion of universal design and accessibility units to accommodate the needs of a variety of people with special needs is encouraged.

  8. Community Input. Developer has solicited (or plans to solicit) neighborhood and community input and concerns by meeting with surrounding neighbors or providing another venue for community input in the early stages of planning.

Examples Of Projects Reviewed And Endorsed By CHC:

Cottage Residential Project on the former St. Francis Hospital site in Santa Barbara

Cottage Health Systems (CHS) proposes to remove the former hospital buildings and provide 115 residences. The current plan is to offer eighty-one (70%) of these residences, for sale exclusively to Cottage Health System employees, at prices affordable to households with annual incomes between 100% – 200% of the area median income, about $75,000 to $125,000 for a family of four. It is CHS’s intent to offer to sell the remaining residences at below market rate to other healthcare employees in the community. CHS will make this determination once they have a better estimate of the approval process and costs involved.

Coastal Housing believes this project is significant for a number of reasons. First, it will be one of the few examples on the South Coast where a major employer provides housing for its employees. We realize that while providing employee housing is not within reach of most employers, it is significant when an employer does take action to provide homes for their workforce.

Building workforce housing in an already developed neighborhood, with existing infrastructure – roads, sewer, schools, parks, public transportation – combined with close proximity to the employer, embraces the principles of smart growth planning.

Such in-fill development is supported by Coastal Housing. However, at a recent City Planning Commission conceptual review hearing, we did request that the City consider allowing a reduced parking standard for this site, so that Cottage Health Systems could add more residences.

Mental Health Association: Special Needs and Workforce Housing project located on Garden and Ortega Streets in Santa Barbara

This will be a 100 percent affordable rental project consisting of 50 residences and mixed use development. Twenty-five of the residences will be allocated to Mental Health Association special needs clients in the very low income category and the remainder of the rental residences will be allocated to downtown Santa Barbara employees in the moderate income category (about $50,000 for a family of four).

These two groups, that have historically been priced out of the local housing market, will now have the opportunity to live, work and be a part of the community.

Coastal Housing believes that this is a good example of a mixed-use project. In addition to the rental housing, it will also include space for: the MHA Fellowship Club; MHA offices; leased office space for the City and non-profit agencies; parking for MHA functions and all residences; as well as parking for City offices located across the street.

Our endorsement for this project was given due to the diversity of creative solutions resulting in a mixed-use, in-fill development designed for an urban setting. The City of Santa Barbara and MHA, came together to mutually address their challenges: workforce and special needs housing, office space and City employee parking.

Projects Coastal Housing has endorsed:

City of Santa Barbara

  • Paseo De La Playa: 131 unit project; 40% affordable and attainable units

  • The Villas:16-unit residential units; 37% affordable units

  • Castillo de las Fuentas: 42 residential units; 100% affordable rental units

City of Goleta

  • Old Town Inn and Village Project: 98-room hotel and 37 residential units; 20% of units are affordable

  • The Village at Los Carneros: 264 residential units; 37% affordable and attainable units

  • Sumida Gardens: 200 residential rental units; 50% affordable rental units

  • Residences at Sandpiper: 109 residential units; 20% affordable units

Affordability Definitions
Affordable: units affordable to individuals or families earning 120% of area median income or below

Attainable: units affordable to individuals or families earning 121% – 200% of area median income