Poodle | $5,000 a month for a small studio in Santa Barbara?

SKIP THE IPECAC: Rats, I just learned, are gastrointestinal hard-wired so they don’t vomit. Higher primates – of which we are one – managed to evolve into our advanced state of pity only through a finely tuned collective vomiting reflex. If one of us blows, we all blow. If a pack member is throwing, the presumption is that he must have eaten something bad; as a precaution, the others also go violently to Vesuvius.

I mention this because of the intense food chills I felt as I passed the new three-story luxury apartment complex sprouting up at 800 Santa Barbara Street. If you thought Swedish architecture was all the rage in the 1960s, you’ll love it. Very spacious and angular. I suddenly wanted to listen to atonal music composed by a guy with too many umlauts in his name. The red tile, white stucco, and granite countertops were all there. So were the islands of cutting boards in the middle of the kitchen where no one will cook. The gutters, of course, are exquisitely handcrafted from the finest artisan Chilean copper. But nowhere inside the gated complex will there be additional storage.

This development is part of the large and sprawling City Hall Experiment – if it fails – designed to incentivize developers to build rental housing by allowing them high housing densities previously unheard of in Santa Barbara and major disruptions in parking requirements. In this case, the developer – said to be a nice guy from Sherman Oaks who has been dating Wheel of Fortune star Vanna White for 10 years – was allowed to cram 23 units into less than a half-acre of land around the corner from Santa Barbara and De la Guerra streets. The developers have taken it upon themselves to rename this area of ​​town “The Laguna District”. If that wasn’t obnoxious enough, in their online brochures they say “Welcome Home”. A lot.

Here’s the thing: Based on the rent Vanna White’s boyfriend is charging, this will never be my house. Nor will it be most people reading this. Studios cost between $4,500 and $5,000 per month. (Sizes range from 528 to 705 square feet.) One-bedroom apartments start at $5,900 and end at $7,200.

All I can say is please pass the ipecac.

The illusion is so total here that anyone who speaks ill of such “progress” is dismissed as a NIMBY and an elitist.

(Where’s Mickey Flacks when you need her?)

This housing experiment – known as the Average Unit-Size Density program, or AUD for short – was launched with the accompanying slogan “Affordable by Design”. It has become the mantra of choice for all well-meaning architects, planners and land developers trying to give the impression that they care about the housing crisis. (Many, to be fair, really did.) The idea was that if you built lots of small rental units instead of a few Mondo Grande Condos for the wealthy and fabulous, society would be better served and young workers could get something called “labour housing”.



Like all theories, this one only works well on paper. To pay the $5,000 a month needed to move into these adorable studio apartments, you need to earn around $180,000 a year. That’s way more bacon than most workers in Santa Barbara bring home. This residential densification program has not worked as catnip for the housing market so much as methamphetamine. With additional density potentials, land values ​​have skyrocketed. As land values ​​soared, so did rents, redefining what landlords could rightly consider to be prevailing market conditions. To “rectify” things, City Hall passed an ordinance requiring that a tiny fraction of new units built as a result of this experiment be made “affordable” to upper-middle-income earners. As a slice of the pie, it qualifies as crumbs.

As City Hall endures the obligatory pangs of updating their housing element, I would suggest that they very quickly focus on tapping into new revenue streams that can be tapped into to sell the bonds needed to the construction of 100% affordable housing. I would suggest they take a serious look at the vacancy tax imposed by cities like Vancouver with a good effect on properties – residential and commercial – left vacant for too long. Likewise, I would suggest they explore what is called a high transfer tax on high-end real estate transactions, as the city of Los Angeles and Santa Monica are currently considering. This is a special tax levied on the sale of properties that have experienced a stratospheric jump in real estate value. The larger the jump, the greater the increase.

While we’re talking about my favorite brand of pie in the sky, I would strongly suggest that people working on the second floor of City Hall get to work with their mates working on the fourth floor of County Administration. Build and seize the housing options that will miraculously become available when county administrators execute their grand plan to withdraw – en masse – from their current downtown digs and retreat to the secluded economic efficiency of their Calle Real campuses. Incidentally, those plans are now quietly rotting away on strategically sequestered drawing boards.

And maybe the council could give serious thought to declaring a permanent housing emergency. This would give the city attorney’s office the authority to prosecute rent evaders. Gouging is a legal no-no during a declared emergency. No, it’s not rent control. It may be much better. Admittedly, it’s more surgical and could go a long way to controlling greedy heads, flippers, fractional ownership goblins and institutional investors while sparing all the moms and pops who have shown more than a minimum. restraint.

Hey, that’s an idea. Paying $5,000 a month for a studio? Gag me.


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