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Los Alamos housing project begins early development process after 17 years

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 28, 2022

Some community members in Los Alamos want a development that was approved nearly 20 years ago put on hold.

Back in 2005, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved the development of 59 new single-family homes off Den Street in Los Alamos. Just last week, neighbors of the development site received letters stating that the early phases of the project would now be getting started, 17 years later.

On Wednesday, tree maintenance crews worked in Los Alamos, sawing off the branches of trees in the vicinity of the approved Village Square project.

"This past week has been loud, disruptive and has taken the town completely by storm," said Krishna Flores, who lives just steps away from the project site.

She is just one of many neighbors in Los Alamos who say they were caught off guard by the sudden progress on the housing project that has been on hold for so long.

"'05 was a really long time ago. We have had three droughts and many changes, a different understanding of the environmental impacts that we contribute, for this instance in our neighborhood, and to the community," Flores added.

According to Santa Barbara County District 4 Supervisor Bob Nelson, after the project received approval back in 2005, a series of years-long extensions to begin the development process were granted, following the economic recession in 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

But despite the project's approval, some locals worry what an influx of new homeowners would do to their small town.

"It is going to be really difficult," admitted Christine Gallagher, who also lives in Los Alamos. "We have a post office that is bursting at the seams. We don't have postal service, we have post boxes. The school is not set up to handle all these kids coming in. There is a water problem, internet is really bad here."

However, Frances Romero, a representative working on the project with site owner Legacy Homes tells KSBY all county and outside agency requirements were satisfied back in 2005.

"If infrastructure needs were to be met, then I don't have a problem with the growth, but it needs to keep within the character of the town as well," Peter Lancucki, who recently moved to Los Alamos, told KSBY.

Meanwhile, Krishna Flores says that after so many years, these concerns from her neighborhood should be revisited before construction starts.

"We are a small town, and we are not certain that 59 new homes of pretty large size can be sustained by a town that doesn't have the infrastructure for that kind of mega-development," Flores said.

Since the tree removal process began, community members in Los Alamos have been trying to get more people to oppose the development. They have a meeting this coming Monday, where they will distribute lawn signs and bumper stickers to voice their disapproval of the project.

Next month, Legacy Homes also plans to have its own informational meeting with the community to hear concerns about the development process. Nonetheless, county supervisor Bob Nelson tells KSBY a reversal of the project's approval can not take place without legal action.