Dear Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors,

For years, local nursery and agricultural landowners have sought county approval to build housing for their employees and families on their properties, only to be consistently denied.

I was alarmed by a recent Coastal View article on proposed housing projects: a community seemingly facing a predetermined outcome, likely orchestrated by developers with tacit approval from local government. This move aligns with a state mandate that disregards our unique environment and contradicts community preferences, violating our slow-growth policy and hastily eliminating agricultural zoning.

With Carpinteria’s population around 14,000, constructing nearly 300 units (each potentially housing four people) in a short span will undoubtedly impact the community. Our infrastructure is already strained, with ongoing freeway projects and water scarcity issues, yet local leaders are prioritizing a state-mandated path seemingly tailored to developers’ convenience rather than addressing housing affordability and community’s long-term interests.

Quoted in the Independent, one supervisor claimed a “lack of housing is hollowing our community,” echoed by a unanimous board vote to rezone for high-density housing. The real cause of this “hollowing out” lies elsewhere: Many families, even with dual incomes, cannot afford to live here. Token efforts at affordable housing won’t suffice unless rents and real estate prices align with economic realities.

Current development mandates only require 20 percent of housing to be priced below market rate, while developers can sell the remaining 80 percent at market rate or higher. Moreover, so-called affordable units can lose their affordability once resold, exacerbating the problem. Coupled with property tax laws that burden locals with inflated assessments upon inheritance, making it unaffordable to stay in family homes, this situation truly hollows our communities. It’s disheartening to see our youth leave after struggling to remain in their beloved community.

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