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Coastal Housing Coalition Hosts Sold-Out Housing Conference Featuring Architect Daniel Parolek

Santa Barbara Housing Conference keynote speaker Dan Parolek, AIA, with Coastal Housing Coalition President Craig Minus. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Housing Conference keynote speaker Dan Parolek, AIA, with Coastal Housing Coalition President Craig Minus. (CHC photo)

The 2016 Annual Santa Barbara Housing Conference was held on Friday, May 13, 2016, at the historic Carrillo Recreation Center in downtown Santa Barbara. This year’s conference theme was “Solving the Missing Middle in Housing.”

The volunteer-run nonprofit organization Coastal Housing Coalition hosted the popular conference, which sold out with 200 attendees. It is the only housing conference held in Santa Barbara County.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, Santa Barbara County is the one of the least affordable small metropolitan area housing markets in the nation. Continued exorbitant housing costs make it inconceivable for most people to buy a home, and the rental market is impacted, with rising rents with a less than 0.5 percent vacancy rate.

The conference keynote speaker was Daniel Parolek, AIA, a nationally recognized thought leader in architecture, design and urban planning who is specifically in noteworthy terms of creating livable, sustainable communities and buildings that reinforce them.

Since establishing himself early in his career as an expert in these fields, he has won national competitions and awards for his work. He is the founder and CEO of Opticos Design in Berkeley.

Parolek’s keynote address was titled “Missing Middle Housing: Responding to the Demand for Walkable Urban Living,” and it addressed the need for multi-unit housing types compatible as single-family homes that could contribute to meeting the ever-rising demand for walkable homes in urban places.

Although Parolek only coined the term “missing middle” just four to five years ago, his company, Opticos, has made overlooked housing types its focus since its inception in 2000.

“Opticos’ first major project, which started in 2000, was a master plan for Isla Vista in Santa Barbara County,” Parolek said in an interview with journalist Amanda Kolson Hurley, who emphasized the architect’s work in a feature published by Next City.

Parolek’s vision of the missing middle in the Isla Vista of 2000 was the courtyard apartment building, and his firm’s participation in the [Re]Vision Isla Vista competition in the early 2000s makes his keynote at the CHC’s 2016 housing conference all too fitting.

Parolek is a leading practitioner of Form-Based Coding, a zoning approach he claims to have written “the definitive handbook,” and he is a founding board member of the Form-Based Codes Institute, where he has taught several hundred advanced-level students and regularly leads workshops on new urbanism and smart growth, missing middle housing, coding and urban living.

Parolek holds a master’s degree in urban design from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Notre Dame University. He is a registered architect in California, Colorado and Florida.

In addition to Parolek’s keynote speech, the Santa Barbara Housing Conference featured a number of workshops and panels led by local and regional housing experts, including the following: “Innovative Design of High Density Housing, Crunching the Numbers,” “Housing Development in Santa Barbara County: Perception vs. Reality,” “How Lack of Workforce Housing Greatly Impacts Traffic & Transportation: What to Do” and a closing plenary discussion featuring Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce Parolek, among others. Click here for more information about the workshops.

Major sponsors included UC Santa Barbara, Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, Yardi, Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray LLPCottage Health Systems, The Towbes Group, Montecito Bank & Trust, Comstock Homes, Capitol Hardware, Flowers & Associates Inc., RRM Design Group and Majestic Asset Management.

Additional sponsors included Beachside Partners, City of Santa Barbara Community Development, First American Title Company, Kitchell Custom Homes, Mesa Paint, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Union Bank, Mesa Lane Partners, American Rivera Bank, Cearnal Collective, City of Goleta, Deckers, Holehouse Construction, Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County, Impulse Advanced Communications, MTD, Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, Stantec Consulting Services, Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permitting Services, Coastal Housing Partnership, Terrain Consulting, Westmont College and others.

Media and in-kind sponsors included Noozhawk, The Santa Barbara Independent, Hotel Santa Barbara, Zaca Mesa Winery, The Voice/CASA Magazine, Pacific Coast Business Times, Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and Rincon Broadcasting.

The Coastal Housing Coalition is dedicated to finding solutions to Santa Barbara County South Coast’s housing crisis and reversing the adverse impacts the lack of affordable housing has on our economy, environmental and civic life.

Founded in 2005, CHC’s goal is to encourage an increase in the supply of housing that our workforce can afford through public outreach and education.

For more information, visit or contact CHC administrator Julia Ullemeyer at 805.570.1250 or [email protected].

Rochelle Rose serves on the board of the Coastal Housing Coalition.

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