For years, many in our community have considered the way to address the lack of housing that our employees could afford is by commuting. This cannot continue to be the only solution. Indeed, it is no longer even an option for a significant portion of our workforce – those making less than $100,000 per year.
The median price of homes in Ventura County made a quantum leap this year to almost $700,000. Now, fewer and fewer employees are able to purchase homes in Ventura County. This is confirmed by the significant drop in survey respondents even looking to purchase in Ventura County – decreasing from 43% of respondents actively looking to purchase in 2003 to 18% actively looking in Ventura County in 2004. An annual household income of $135,000 is required to purchase the median-price home in Ventura County.
High prices on the South Coast and Santa Ynez Valley have sent those workers with less than a $130,000 annual household income to Lompoc and Santa Maria. Yet the median price of a home in Lompoc recently topped $435,000.
Soon, local employees will no longer even have the option to commute in order to achieve homeownership. With these sky-rocketing home prices, where will our workforce go to purchase homes? Will our entire workforce be eventually comprised of renters? Workers replacing retiring employees will be renters and commuters. They will not be part of our community, except between the hours of 8 – 5 and, of course, they will populate our already-jammed freeways.
As the number of commuters increases, this exacts an enormous toll on the vitality of our community. The South Coast has always had an active, committed volunteer base to serve on non-profit boards and give of their time to serve community. Commuting South Coast workers are forced to give up many activities in their community.