Sunday, November 18, 2007

City to buy land to build neighborhood park


Santa Barbara city officials are expected to authorize the purchase of two homes at the corner of Bath and Ortega streets near Mission Creek at an estimated cost of $1.18 million at the City Council meeting tomorrow.
As part of the Mission Creek Flood Control Enhancements Project, the city intends to demolish those homes to make way for a neighborhood park.

Improved lighting, sidewalks and crosswalks, and open space and parks are the three highest priorities for that area, Steven Faulstich, acting housing and redevelopment manager, wrote in a staff report.
“Property acquisition along Bath Street for use as a neighborhood park and additional open space adjacent to Mission Creek would fit well with the neighborhood’s concerns,” Faulstich wrote.
The city also owns the property and home at 303 W. Ortega St., which stands between the two properties up for purchase and Mission Creek.
Following fair market appraisal, the owner of the property at 633 Bath St., which includes a single-story, 565-square-foot home, agreed to a sale price of $500,000, along with title and escrow fees and relocation assistance. Likewise, the owner of the 589-square-foot house at 635 Bath St. agreed to a $620,000 price tag.
Currently, $2.44 million remains in the Redevelopment Agency’s project account, funded by several bond issues.
Since the project will remove two one-bedroom homes from the city’s available housing, the city will have to add two units at price levels affordable to income levels similar or lower than those of the two current property owners. City staff have identified pending affordable housing projects in the area that meet the legal requirement for housing replacement.
Public Works officials said bridge replacement at that Ortega Street location is slated for spring 2009, but will likely begin in spring 2010. Use of those properties has been requested for construction staging.
“To accommodate the request, the properties would need to be cleared of their structures at least two months prior to the start of construction,” Faulstich wrote.
Both homes are suitable for interim rental, he added, suggesting possible rent back agreements with the current residents or short-term rentals through the Housing Authority.
Once the properties are purchased, Faulstich said redevelopment staff will work closely with Parks and Recreation, Public Works and the neighborhood to develop a design for the open space.

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