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Solvang names 5 members to Design and Review Committee, outlines road improvement projects
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Solvang names 5 members to Design and Review Committee, outlines road improvement projects

SBCAG alerts city that it may need to plan for 191 new housing units

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Solvang City Council members Monday unanimously disbanded the Branding and Design Committee, replaced it with a committee called the Design and Review Committee, and appointed five new volunteer members to sit on it.

The Council also accepted a five-year road improvement schedule of projects, and received direction on future housing needs as it faces its general plan update.

City Attorney Dave Fleishman opened the meeting by reporting the council held its slated special, closed meeting for a performance evaluation of City Manager Xenia Bradford. He said no reportable action had been taken, and Bradford remained active throughout the regular council meeting.

In addition to rescinding the Branding and Design Committee, the Council also rescinded its predecessor, the Board of Architectural Review. The five volunteers appointed to the new Design and Review Committee are Patrick Cavanaugh, Brian Deputy, Esther Jacobsen Bates, Jennifer Dreyden-Hess, and Joy Louise Culley.

There was no discussion about the candidates, their qualifications, or how each council member chose their appointee, and there was no overlap in requested appointments.

According to the ordinance, the five-member committee is tasked with preserving and enhancing “for the citizens and tourists of Solvang, the historical Danish and northern European architectural styles, historic assets and character of the town’s commercial centers; to promote safe, functional and attractive development of business and commercial areas; to unify commercial (and industrial) properties; to protect and preserve the unique and cultural features within Solvang; and to protect commercial and residential property values by enhancing the city's appearance.”

Over time, the committee is also tasked with helping “to preserve the city's streetscape and the inherent qualities of a livable community.”

To qualify, candidates must be a legal resident or business operator within the 93463, 93464, 93441, 93460 zip codes at the time of appointment and throughout their two-year tenure. The ordinance calls for members who “should have a demonstrated interest in, and knowledge of, architectural history, architecture, local history or be knowledgeable in fields related to historic preservation, construction, planning, geography, landscape architecture, urban design, Danish culture, arts, or real estate.”

The council also accepted city staff recommendations for the five-year transportation improvement plan funded by Measure A sales tax proceeds, including $3 million for circulation improvements along Highway 246, major collector streets and arterials, and about $400,000 per year for local roads and streets.

Public Works Director/City Engineer Mark van der Linden reported allocations to upcoming major projects include $600,000 to the South Alisal Road pavement reconstruction project currently in design process and slated to go out to bid before the close of the fiscal year.

The plan also calls for allocating $1.2 million toward the Highway 246 bridge replacement. While Caltrans will pick up the bulk of the $12 million price tag for the bridge, the city is chipping in to maximize additional state funding for widening the bridge to provide for bike lane and pedestrian improvements.

As the city looks toward developing its 10-year capital improvement plan in coming months, van der Linden said the city should consider where it would like to spend the remaining $1.2 million in state funds.

Previous council considerations have included improving the east end of Mission Drive, including widening the road from Pine Street to Alamo Pintado Road. He said the city also needs to address reconstruction of the water line along Fredensborg Canyon Road from Chalk Hill Road to about Viborg Road. The water line runs alongside the creek and is slightly exposed in at least one spot. That project, he said, should be scheduled to align with road improvement to maximize resources.

In addition, 15 percent of that Measure A funding has to be used for alternative transportation including new sidewalks, new access ramps and repairs, bicycle infrastructure improvements and mass transit.

Council members directed staff to look into potential traffic calming measures that would improve safety at Alamo Pintado and Viborg.

Councilman Jim Thomas also requested the city install components on bike lanes that would immediately notify drivers passing into the bike lane. Those could include raised reflectors or delineators, and van der Linden proposed those improvements be made as streets are maintained or improved.

In other news, the council heard a report from SBCAG Director of Planning Mike Becker alerting Solvang that it could be required to make way for 191 new housing units under a state law passed in 2018.

Under SBA 828, cities and counties are required to zone enough land to meet 125 percent of local housing needs, up from 100 percent under previous law. The requirement applies to all land suitable for residential development, including vacant lots, property owned or leased by government entities, as well as residential and nonresidential sites that could be rezoned. Local agencies which fail to comply would be barred from rejecting any residential project proposed on any suitable site.

Becker said SBCAG is expected to take action next week on a plan which calls for 24,856 housing units over the next eight years in Santa Barbara County. That development would be split by four income groups: 5,799 very-low-income units; 3,935 low-income units; 4,397 moderate-income units; and 10,725 above-moderate-income units. Solvang’s portion of those homes include 191 units: 55 very-low income; 39 low-income; 22 medium-income; and 75 above-medium income.

According to the city’s 2015-2023 Housing Element, the city’s regional housing needs allocation was 175 homes: 42 very-low income; 28 low-income; 30 moderate; and 75 above moderate.

Once accepted, jurisdictions may appeal allocations before the final plan is slated for adoption in August. Once adopted, cities would need to update their housing elements as needed to address the new numbers.

“That doesn’t mean all those units will be built,” Becker said.

He added that historically the region has delivered half the units assigned to it.

Series: Solvang City Council coverage

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