Westmont has begun constructing its second employee housing project, creating 13, two- and three-bedroom condominiums designed for faculty near Oak Park in downtown Santa Barbara. Planned for more than a decade, the condos are being built at 505 and 509 W. Los Olivos St. and 2121 Oak Park Lane.
The project, which was initially approved by the city in 2009, has undergone several improvements, including a 1,000-square-foot increase in space to a common yard, underground storm water retention basins and a 26 percent increase in energy savings. It maintains existing Oak Street trees and adds 27 new trees.
“I particularly like the fact that all the units will have their own two-car garage that really fits into the character of the neighborhood much better than before,” said planning commissioner Lesley Wiscomb at the hearing. “The fact that you are really retaining and protecting the trees is again in the character of the neighborhood, which I think is really great. I applaud your efforts.”
“We’ve been eager to see more employee housing for sale and rent coming forward,” said planning commissioner Deborah L. Schwartz. “I’d love to have Westmont’s project be a model or example of what we can discuss with other employers.”
In 1996, Westmont completed construction of 41 faculty homes adjacent to campus in Las Barrancas.
“Westmont has a nearly 40-year history of providing housing assistance in one form or another to employees, particularly to those who are looking to relocate to Santa Barbara from less expensive parts of the country,” said Doug Jones, Westmont vice president for finance. “We are often looking for new faculty from around the country and around the world as we seek educators to join us in preparing the next generation of young men and women to be leaders in our society. We have found time and time again that the availability of affordable homes has been an important draw for Santa Barbara.”
The project diversifies the college’s housing portfolio, allowing faculty to choose between size and location. “There is already much excitement on campus about these condos opening in 2018, and several new faculty are already hopeful that they may be able to live there next year,” Jones says.
City officials were also pleased that two of the 13 units will be middle-income affordable units, meaning they can only be sold to someone earning 130 percent of the Area Median Income.