Santa Barbara’s housing crisis task force — now officially known as the Housing Crisis Ad Hoc Committee (HCC) — held its first meeting last week, where the group discussed its scope of work as it attempts to look at every option to address the city’s skyrocketing rents and lack of housing.
City Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez — who suggested the ad hoc committee as a way to delve into every possible solution in a deeper discussion than one council meeting would allow — was selected as the chair of the HCC, joined by councilmembers Alejandra Gutierrez and Kristen Sneddon. Housing and Human Services Manager Laura Dubbels and Community Development Director Elias Isaacson are the city staff appointed to the committee.
The meetings are not open to the public, but committee chair Oscar Gutierrez said that members of the public are encouraged to contact him with any ideas and concerns they want the group to address. He also said the HCC plans to hold a public meeting for greater input before going to the full council with final recommendations. “We hope to have finalized recommendations ready to present to the full council by the end of next year,” he said.
According to a report from the first meeting, the HCC’s umbrella goal is “community stabilization,” which will be achieved by “meetings with constituents and stakeholders, data collection, and research.”
The committee will look at the following specific options to tackle the housing crisis: rent stabilization, a “rental unit registry,” vacancy fees, a voucher program, “incentives for tenant retention,” developer incentives, impacts to “mom and pop” landlords, potential ballot measures, and a living wage ordinance.