Laura Capps, running for Santa Barbara County 1st District supervisor, gathered in Bohnett Park on Tuesday morning with members of the press and a number of city officials, supporters, former officials, and advocacy groups to announce her plan to bring relief to residents struggling from staggeringly high housing costs. Her proposal focuses on two areas: increased outreach to connect struggling residents with programs like CalFresh (food stamps), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and a program called Renter’s Choice, which would allow renters to pay security deposits in the form of insurance rather than a large initial sum, which many residents struggle to pay.
“When I talk to people throughout the district, housing is the issue that comes up every time,” said Capps, president of the Santa Barbara Unified school board. “Housing is about more than four walls and a roof. It’s about dignity. We need leaders who will prioritize this issue and push innovative solutions.”
Paula Lopez, a ninth-generation Santa Barbara resident who attended the event, said, “I see people getting priced out of the city where they grew up, and I wonder if my kids, my grandkids, are going to be able to live here. Laura has national experience and experience on the school board, which I like.”
Capps has said that affordable housing hasn’t been given the time and resources it deserves on the Board of Supervisors and that excessive focus on cannabis issues have detracted from other areas of interest for the community, a subtle dig at her rival, incumbent Das Williams, who Capps says has spent too much time on cannabis regulations that cater to the industry.
In response to Capps’s plan, Williams said, “I voted to establish the inclusionary requirement for ownership in the city that has enabled many folks to own property that they would not otherwise be able to. But there’s no substitute for actual housing production. Without more units, rents will continue to be out of control. We have over 300 units in the pipeline, and if [I’m] elected we will do more.”