Housing Conference Co-Chairs Named

Published March 30, 2017 by Noozhawk 


Ellen Bildsten and Jon Standring are the 2017 co-chairs of the 4th Annual Santa Barbara Housing Coalition, it was announced by Craig Minus, board president of Coastal Housing Coalition, the conference host.
Ellen BildstenClick to view larger

Ellen Bildsten

The educational event will be held 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, at Carrillo Recreation Center, 100 E. Carrillo St.

The conference theme is Road to Housing. In addition to networking and a keynote speaker, the event will feature a choice of morning and afternoon educational workshops, and a panel discussion on timely housing topics.

Jon StandringClick to view larger

Jon Standring

Bildsten is the principle architect at Bildsten Architecture and Planning. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University.

A UCSB graduate, Standring is founder and president of Beachside Partners, a real estate-investment brokerage focused on commercial and residential assets on the South Coast.

More than 200 conference attendees are expected, including housing providers, developers, business and government leaders, nonprofits, architects, real estate professionals, financial institution managers, elected officials, employers, and interested community members.

Tickets are $110 in advance, $140 at the door and include breakfast, lunch, educational workshops, networking, vendor booths, plenary sessions, souvenir program, and concluding wine reception.

Sponsorships are available at $500, $1,000, $3,000, $5,000 and $7,500 (title sponsor), which include tickets, publicity, booth space, and banner privileges, according to sponsor level.

The Coastal Housing Coalition is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 dedicated to finding solutions to the South Coast’s housing crisis and reversing the adverse impacts of the lack of workforce housing is having on our economy, environment, and civic life.

For more info, to register or purchase a sponsorship visit  or, email, or phone 570-1250.

— Rochelle Rose for Coastal Housing Coalition.


2016 Santa Barbara Housing Conference Video (KEYT)

The CHC  is preparing for  4th Annual Santa Barbara Housing Conference on May 19, 2017.  Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased by clicking here!

Here is a recap of the 2016 Housing Conference, courtesy of KEYT:

Local Group Gives Santa Barbara County Economic Wellness Grade of D+

— By Sam Goldman (Noozhawk staff writer) 

Reason in Government report says growing issues of pension costs and infrastructure backlogs are hampering economic development.

Reason in Government, a local nonprofit group, has given the economic wellness of Santa Barbar County a grade of D+ in a report released this week.Click to view larger

 (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County isn’t sitting so pretty right now, according to a recently released report by the organization Reason in Government.

The report by the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit says that inadequate government handling of significant fiscal issues, combined with insufficient public-private partnerships, have held back economic development in the county and will hamper residents’ quality of life if not satisfactorily addressed.

Despite improvements in some metrics, the report claims, economic vitality is still considerably below what it was in the years prior to the recession.

Reason in Government released the document Wednesday and rated the economic wellness of the entire county with a D+.

“Although there are a handful of bright spots, such as rising median household income, Santa Barbara County is not economically healthy,” the report read.

“Its unemployment rate is high by historical standards, its poverty rate is much too high by any standard, its public finances are weakening at the county and city levels, its labor mix and business formation lack vitality, and its lack of housing drags down the overall economy in several ways.”

Reason in Government was founded in 2015 and says it advocates for the “radical center” politically.

The organization describes itself as supportive of the free market, civil liberties and more reasoned and effective governing, and says government “should be ‘fiscally conservative’ and ‘socially liberal’ in outlook and action.”

“The economic forecasts that were coming in late last year were very optimistic in a way that I didn’t think tracked necessarily with the public mood,” Reason in Government president Brian Goebel told Noozhawk. “I wanted to dig into the data and see what was really going on.”

Despite being home to many civically minded people, he said, “I think there’s a lot of complacency in the county.”

The report, “Grading Santa Barbara County’s Economic Wellness,” based the D+ grade on the average grades of 10 different metrics related to economic health and vitality. It gathered most of its data from 2015 U.S, Census tests and local government budget data.

The 10 measures were primarily compared to what they were in pre-recession days, which the report argued was a fair benchmark for economic health, as well as to Sonoma County, another coastal county it said is similar to Santa Barbara County in population and labor force, but is doing much better overall in those 10 metrics.

Reason in Government rated the 10 measures, along with whether it believes they’re improving or not:

» Unemployment rate: D+ (↑)

» Poverty rate: D- (↔)

» Median household income: A (↑)

» County and municipal finances: D (↓)

» Number of firms: C- (↔)

» Labor mix: D (↓)

» Median value of owner-occupied property: D- (↑)

» Housing units per resident: D (↓)

» Ratio of median household income to median rent: D (↓)

» Income dedicated to rent: D+ (↑)

The report found Santa Barbara County to be an expensive place to live and in need of more workforce housing. It found the poverty rate to be higher than the national average and that it has fewer “21st century economy jobs” than in years past.

The county’s most promising measure, median household income, was found to be “rising faster than the national average and is well-above the level achieved in 2007.”

Of greatest concern were county and municipal finances.

Despite “very little debt and a strong bond rating, (the county’s) overall finances are seriously imbalanced largely as a result of policy choices made by earlier Boards of Supervisors,” the report stated.

“Economically sensitive revenues are growing slowly while expenses have vastly outpaced population growth and long-term liabilities have risen astronomically.”

The county’s cities, it argued, were in even worse shape collectively.

With local governments’ mounting pension liabilities, the report said, substantial reforms should be taken up immediately to alleviate what it said is an increasing burden on the rest of public finances, which ultimately hampers residents’ quality of life.

Another significant fiscal issue affecting residents’ well-being is local governments’ increasing backlogs of infrastructure maintenance.

Goebel, who has practiced law and advised the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, contends that these big-time issues were seen ahead of time, but were challenged by digging out from the recession and balancing infrastructure spending with other investments and costs, including pensions and essential services.

The report advocated for much stronger public-private partnerships, like those being pursued by the county Economic Vitality Team, to facilitate economic innovation and development and to tackle complex issues like water security and workforce housing.

It also called for aggressive efforts to stimulate business formation and growth, and for philanthropists to further step up their game to better tackle poverty and social injustice.

The report said there were gaps and inconsistencies in city and county budget and financial data, and encouraged local governments to improve transparency by more consistently publishing more budget and financial data.

Goebel estimated that, if local powers were to implement the report’s recommendations, improvements in the grades it assigned those 10 variables could expect to be seen over an 18- to 30-month window.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato characterized economic growth countywide as moderate overall and stable.

She noted the county is home to big-time employers such as UC Santa Barbara, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Cottage Health, which provide stable, good-paying jobs, and that governments should continue pursuing partnerships with the business, nonprofit and philanthropic communities to tackle important issues.

“Everyone said when you’re coming out of a recession like this, it’s going to be a slow path out, and that’s what we’re seeing,” she told Noozhawk. “We recognized that early on.”

The report’s pre-recession benchmarks are not necessarily suitable for measuring today’s economic wellness, she said.

“The landscape really changed post-recession: for government, for our residents, for nonprofits, for businesses. And so I think that you have to look at the post-recession world with a different lens in general.”

Like Goebel, however, Miyasato said meeting a variety of basic obligations during the recession made keeping up with deferred infrastructure maintenance difficult.

The pension predicament, she added, was the result of decades of past decisions up and down state and local government, as well as past performance on the pension fund.

The county Board of Retirement “has taken actions that will entail paying down most of the county’s pension debt by 2031,” she said.

“They’ve made strides over the past several years to reduce risk to ensure greater stability of the pension fund. We’re not kicking the can down the road. We’re addressing our debt now.”

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Save the Date!

2017 Santa Barbara Housing Conference  
Friday, May 19, 2017
The Coastal Housing Coalition is proud to announce its upcoming Santa Barbara Housing Conference on Friday, May 19, 2017 at the Carrillo Recreation Center, 100 E. Carrillo St. SB.


Over 200 expected attendees will include housing providers, developers, business and government leaders, non-profits, architects, real estate professionals, financial institution managers, and local employers. Sponsorships are available from $500 – $7,500. The earlier the sponsorship–the more publicity benefits!


Want to get involved? The Coastal Housing Coalition is looking for volunteers to join the Housing Conference planning committee. For more information, contact Shannon Batchev at or (805) 570-1250.