On Tuesday, the Santa Maria City Council gave the green light for the construction of 443 housing units that would be part of the Betteravia Plaza megadevelopment.
Office and commercial spaces will accompany the incoming residential units.
Some locals have mixed feelings about hundreds more people moving into their city.
“I don’t like it to get too big, I like small communities. I have been here since the 60s and a lot has changed since then,” said Mike Champion of Santa Maria.
The recently approved housing units will bring 340 apartments and 103 townhomes to the 52-acre Betteravia Plaza site that began construction in early February.
During Tuesday evening’s Santa Maria City Council meeting, sitting councilmembers brought up potential traffic concerns that could affect the nearby police station and elementary school, but some people we spoke to say increased traffic is a small inconvenience compared to the need for more housing.
“There is already traffic. I mean, it is what it is. With the population of people you are going to have traffic, but you also got to have housing for them,” said Santa Maria resident Larry Shipman.
“Well, certainly that is a concern but housing — I believe the value should increase with added population,” added William Brennan, who also lives in Santa Maria.
City officials say traffic studies have been conducted for the roadways adjacent to Betteravia Plaza, but they say no modifications were deemed necessary.
However, Community Development Director Chuen Ng says an additional exit will be added to the Santa Maria Police Station to alleviate concerns over possible delays to response times.
Additionally, the incoming housing units will come with hundreds of available parking spaces — a solution to an issue Larry Shipman says he has noticed with other residential developments.
“When you see everybody home at night, all the parking is in front of the apartment building. You can’t even find a parking spot, so that tells you there are multiple people living in the complex that can’t even park inside the complex,” he said.
Still, some longtime residents are conflicted about the changing city.
“It is expanding. Farming grounds that used to be farms are now housing and I hate to see that farming ground go,” Champion said.
During this week’s city council meeting, officials also said more traffic signals can be expected in the area as construction on Betteravia Plaza continues.
The incoming housing units will be offered at market rate.