Saturday, February 6 , 2016, 4:34 pm | Fair 69º

Shortage of Affordable Housing Pushing Local Businesses Away, Study Finds

Mark Schniepp presents a Coastal Housing Coalition study of Santa Barbara County’s housing trends and their implications

Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast, presents the results of a Coastal Housing Coalition study on housing trends and their implications during a workshop held Friday at UCSB.
Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast, presents the results of a Coastal Housing Coalition study on housing trends and their implications during a workshop held Friday at UCSB.  (Alex Kacik / Noozhawk photo)

By Alex Kacik, Noozhawk Business Writer | @NoozhawkBiz |

More businesses are likely to be moving out of southern Santa Barbara County because many workers are unable to find affordable housing, according to a Coastal Housing Coalition study released Friday.

About 100 business leaders, public officials and community members attended a workshop on housing trends and their implications Friday morning at UCSB. One of the examples Mark Schniepp of the California Economic Forecast presented was that more people are commuting into Santa Barbara because of the widening gap between home prices and median household income as well as a low affordable housing supply.

Commuters from San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties have doubled during the past 20 years, according to the study.

“Household incomes have declined by more than the housing prices, it’s more difficult to obtain financing for a mortgage and there’s much less inventory that meets affordable housing standards,” Schniepp said.

There are hardly any vacancies in the rental market as well, he said, and the South Coast rental industry has the lowest vacancy rate in years and rents are rising again. People ages 25 to 44 own only 15 percent of the South Coast homes, which is partly because of the aging population staying in their homes for longer periods of time. Twenty-three percent of homeowners have lived in their homes since 1980, according to the study.

“The trend implies a continued increase in commuting and that a suitable workforce may not be available to fill needed positions within South Coast businesses as workers retire,” Schniepp said. “Consequently, firms will expand elsewhere or relocate outside the region.”

The responsibility lies on decision-makers to allow development of affordable housing, Santa Barbara City Councilman Grant House said.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure there’s affordable housing for the workforce in Santa Barbara and the South Coast; it’s a regional issue,” he said. “We need to use our General Plan, which we just accomplished, and look at our housing policies to ensure that we’re working in partnership with the rest of the South Coast to be able to generate more housing for the workforce, especially for low-income families. That’s an area that’s so deficient that it’s incredible.”

Santa Barbara might need to concentrate on creating more affordable housing for the elderly to increase the housing supply, House added.

“We’ve been emphasizing homes for the workers in Santa Barbara, and we haven’t been providing them enough so people have been commuting and leaving the area; that’s harmful for the economy, the future and those families,” he said. “But if you look at it, we’re not providing enough smaller units for the aging population.”

In terms of the employment picture, the public sector employs the most people on the South Coast, followed by the hospitality industry. But the public sector is downsizing and the hospitality industry feature some of the lowest-paying jobs, Schniepp said.

Nationally, the federal government said Friday that the nation’s unemployment rate increased to 8.2 percent in May and employers created just 69,000 jobs — lower than analyst projections.

Workforce Investment Board executive director Ray McDonald said the key lies in the local technology and environmental industries.

“Those are the kind of jobs that will be new, that will be kicking,” he said. “We have to figure out how to keep the tech jobs here, too.

“Those types of jobs pay well and if we can get more people to bring those clean jobs into our county, that’s the way we can start keeping our young folks.”

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk and @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

CHC Housing Study


» on 06.02.12 @ 12:08 PM

Are you guys crazy? The marketplace all on its own is making housing much more affordable in SB than anytime in the last 15 years. We don’t need anymore taxpayer subsidies to build more affordable housing; the free market is doing it very nicely without your interference.

» on 06.02.12 @ 07:58 PM

Lou, totally agree you you.

If the City and County would just allow the free market to deliver housing the needs would be met.  The city wants to dramatically restrict housing, over regulate housing, and require way too much affordable housing (i.e. penalize the provider), rather than “getting out of the way” and letting providers and users make efficient decisions on how much is needed, what is needed and where it is needed.

» on 06.03.12 @ 03:49 PM

I agree with Lou as well. 
Housing is now affordable fot tech type jobs that pay starting grad salaries of $40k and average salaries around $100k. 
Issue with SB is the city and county like tourist type business where they can collect sales tax,  yet these businesses do not pay enough for employees to buy in SB.
Get out of the way City and County!

» on 06.03.12 @ 06:31 PM

Schneipp fails to factor in any sort of calculation for the value (utility) of quality of life.  Start building all this affordable housing and watch traffic come to a gridlock, parking spaces become more impossible to find, water rationing make landscaping unaffordable, crime escalate, landlord’s have less incentive to maintain their properties, and viola, the golden goose is no longer golden.  His calculations and conclusions are intentionally skewed to favor only those who support and contribute to his group.

» on 06.06.12 @ 07:06 PM

How did I miss this one? The south coast has a net inflow of 15,000 people every weekday (25,000 in, 10,000 out). All that on an infrastructure purposely scuttled to support 25,000 less people than live here. So tell me people what friggen difference did it make to stop residential development? We have more traffic and congestion than many places that grew at a fast clip but kept their infrastructure up to the capacity needed. We have all the crime, pollution and problems of a community with 25,000 more people living there with the tax base and resources of a smaller community.

This is what ballot box planning and no growth knee jerk activism has brought you. While many of you were out there demonizing evil Orange County developers, your neighbors and anyone else that was not a wealthy retiree or loopy enviro whacko, the very mess you were trying to prevent not only happened anyway but way worse.

There is a way out, but it takes real planning and real solutions not knee jerking social engineering fruit cake crap that we have endured for 4 decades now. It means widening roads, completing arterials and focusing higher density in the cores rather than spreading it out all over the place. That means keeping multi unit developments out of neighborhoods, increasing off street parking requirements and alloying taller building in the cores.

Wider streets can be offset by utilizing landscaped medians. Taller buildings are de-emphasized by allowing lush landscaping with taller vegetation. Traffic circulation is much improved when you actually have circulation rather than dead end arterials. There is a way, we just don’t do it and for all the lamest reasons.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.