The only sustainable way to foster long-term economic growth is by building more housing, said Chris Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics.
“If you want Ventura to grow faster, if you want Santa Barbara to grow faster, you have to start with a conversation about housing,” Thornberg told about 300 people at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara at the ninth annual Radius Real Estate and Economic Forecast on Oct. 25. “As far as housing, we have a big problem.”
It’s a problem that will persist barring a major shift in policy, he said.
The current slow-growth mantra has increased housing costs and driven many residents out of the region or to the more affordable areas like Santa Maria and Oxnard. This has had a wide-ranging impact on all aspects of the economy.
Proposition 13, coupled with the California Environmental Quality Act, deter development, Thornberg said. Prop 13., which includes a 2 percent annual cap on property tax rates and limits the frequency and scope of property value reassessment, and CEQA’s frequent use as a development obstruction have created a housing-jobs imbalance, Thornberg said.
“By limiting property taxes, you have limited the incentive of local governments to want housing and empowered NIMBYs by making housing a bad investment for a local city,” he said.