Soaring Housing Prices | Credit: Monte Wolverton, Battle Ground, WA

Dear Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors,

It’s no secret, we live or work in paradise here in Southern Santa Barbara County. However, that paradise comes with a high cost. It’s always been expensive to live here, but now it’s becoming impossible for many due to the soaring cost of living. Housing prices and rents continue to spike. It’s impacting South Coast School Districts and employees negatively.

The leaders of Santa Barbara Unified School District, the Santa Barbara Teachers Association, the California School Employees Association, Hope Elementary School District, Hope District Teachers Association, Goleta Union School District, and United Teaching Profession of Goleta are urging the board to do everything in its power to approve new affordable housing projects throughout the South Coast. The dire need for affordable housing is getting worse every day. We need housing affordability projects for workers of all income levels that will be used by people who live and work here in our community as their primary home.

When considering approval for housing, we urge you to prioritize and mandate the considerable inclusion of affordable workforce housing units, beyond the requirements for low- income units. We also ask you to create new funding for non-profit developers, which can be one of the best solutions to this issue. Equitable, affordable housing projects are essential to any path forward for South Coast housing. Our county has led unprecedented efforts such as environmental impact protections and can become a leader in this critical area as well.

As some of the largest employers on the South Coast, with thousands of full and part-time employees, we hear daily how the housing situation negatively affects the workforce. During a recent Staff Listening Tour at Santa Barbara Unified schools, the number one issue brought up was the high cost of living. Many reported having to take second jobs or commuting in from as far as south as Camarillo or as north as Arroyo Grande just to make finances work.

We know solutions aren’t easy, there is always a reason not to move forward with certain projects. However, the lack of development is creating a crisis for our schools. It’s harder than ever to recruit and retain employees. Our students deserve excellent teachers and classified staff, but the housing crisis makes it difficult to recruit and retain highly qualified workers. We know many of you are parents in our district and count on us to deliver on the promise of an exemplary education, so we urge you to prioritize your children, our children, and our community and heed the call for help to support affordable housing.

We thank you for taking the time to listen to our plea. Families are hurting, and we need your help to address that. Solutions won’t come overnight, but the process needs to be prioritized and sped up. We look forward to working with you to find real, immediate, and impactful solutions for the community.

Hilda Maldonado, Superintendent, Santa Barbara Unified School District
Kenneth Rivas, Santa Barbara Chapter President California School Employees Association
Nate Evans, President,Hope District Teachers Association
Shannan Cocklin, President, United Teaching Profession of Goleta
Joyce Adriansen, President, Santa Barbara Teachers Association
Anne Hubbard, Superintendent, Hope Elementary School District
Diana Roybal, Superintendent, Goleta Union School District
Rosalinda Greening, Goleta Chapter President, California School Employees Association


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