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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 29th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 44 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 22, Issue 44

Santa Maria approves housing development at Hi-Way Drive-In

By Caleb Wiseblood

A recent Santa Maria City Council decision will prevent any potential buyers of a local drive-in from maintaining the location as a movie theater.

Thanks to an approved zoning change for the site, from commercial to residential, People’s Self-Help Housing has the final go-ahead to purchase the Hi-Way Drive-In, where it plans to develop 49 single-family homes. 


HOUSING POTENTIAL
During its Dec. 21 meeting, Santa Maria City Council approved a requested zoning change at the Hi-Way Drive-In, which will allow a potential buyer to develop a low-income housing development on the site.
FILE PHOTO BY CALEB WISEBLOOD

One of the reasons Mayor Alice Patino said she supported the change, which was approved during the City Council’s Dec. 21 meeting, was to prevent alternate buyers from building a multi-story apartment complex at the site instead. The original commercial designation allows for mixed-use residential development, including studio apartments.

“My concern is that if we leave it commercial ... anything can be built there that doesn’t even have to be approved by City Council or the Planning Commission,” Patino said during the meeting.

Before voting on the item, Councilmember Mike Cordero raised some concerns about past complaints he’s heard about other low-income housing developments from People’s Self-Help Housing.

“I am aware of other projects they’ve been involved with, and I’ve been pretty supportive, in the past, of People’s Self-Help Housing; it’s a great organization in many respects,” Cordero said. “But there seems to be a breakdown in caring for some of the properties.”

Cordero said some of the complaints have been about “a lot of people hanging around outside the projects” who were “generally disrupting the people that were already established in the neighborhood,” he said, describing the loiterers as “criminal in nature.”

Sheryl Flores, vice president of home ownership at People’s Self-Help Housing, inquired about Cordero passing along these complaints to her directly, so she could then forward them to property management. Cordero said he would contact her, but did not dive into the complaints’ specifics during the meeting.

Councilmember Etta Waterfield said she believes the proposed housing development will attract dedicated homebuyers, partly because they will help build the houses themselves. People’s Self-Help Housing assigns 60 to 70 percent of physical construction duties to those who buy.

“People are buying these homes for themselves; they’re gonna take care of these homes. They’re not gonna go in and build a home, especially in today’s time, and then trash it out,” Waterfield said. “I believe these people who will be buying these homes will take care of these homes and do a great job.”

The Santa Maria Planning Commission recommended approval of the zoning change, which the City Council did unanimously on a 5-0 vote. 










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