Like most of California, Santa Barbara is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. As our population has grown over the past few decades, our housing stock has stayed relatively flat – leading to exponentially rising prices to rent an apartment or buy a home. Partly this is by design, as majority bias in Santa Barbara has been traditionally “slow growth”, and many home owners seek to preserve the “Old Spanish Days” charm that they love in downtown Santa Barbara, balanced against other considerations. One such consideration: pursuant to California state mandates Santa Barbara will need to add 3,083 new housing units by 2023.
Many say the problem with this “slow2no-growth” approach is that our core downtown sector has been slowly dying as fewer people, particularly millennials, can afford to live here. Retail storefronts are closing, once lively streets are now empty, restaurants draw fewer customers, and vagrants establish their own housing in darkened streets and empty spaces.
This downward spiral is hastened by new, more affordable neighborhoods developed in outlying areas where housing costs are cheaper & permitting is more flexible. Think Goleta, the “Funk Zone” and Ventura: as these areas develop, they become more attractive to locals AND visitors who opt to spend their time and money in the “cool,” “happening” places that “everyone” wants to experience.
But a chorus is growing among those working to attract younger & more energetic people into the downtown area. For example, we anticipate hundreds of new Amazon employees will be working in the old Saks building on lower State Street. Where will they live? Many believe that creating an integrated, community-oriented “habitat” catering to younger, moderate income workers would bring a vibrant new energy back into the city. For this panel, we are bringing together diverse voices who see housing as a prime mover in re-vitalizing our downtown core.
This meeting is part of our 2019 Global Citizens Club series on “Greening our Infrastructure” and focuses on long standing housing issues while also considering concepts for creating a “green” and vibrant downtown corridor that retains Santa Barbara’s historic charm. In May, we were delighted by the response to our meeting focusing on Santa Barbara’s Transportation Future which showed vigorous community interest in finding transportation solutions that will work well for everyone and strategies for investing in new modes to quickly transition to a clean, green and sustainable future. We believe that locating housing closer to work and play significantly addresses that issue as well.
Please join us on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 from 5-7pm at the Belmond El Encanto Hotel (800 Alvarado Place)
Space is limited, so click here to RSVP today!
5:00 – 5:30pm: Meet & Greet
5:30 – 6:30pm: Panel Presentation (panelists to be announced soon)
6:30 – 7:00pm: Q&A Discussion