Measure B is a City of Ventura ballot box initiative that proposes to protect hillside and ocean views by limiting building heights to 26 feet throughout the majority of the city for two years, while a view protection ordinance is written by a view resources board, members of which are to be appointed by the authors of the measure, the special interest group, VCORD.
We, at Housing Opportunities Made Easier (HOME), are deeply concerned that the harsh height restriction will fully stifle the already restricted flow of residential development in Ventura, and that the View Resources Board (tasked with drafting the view protection ordinance that will amend the general plan) will work under the VCORD “no-growth” bias, instead of in the best interest of current and future Ventura residents. Because Ventura recently adopted an infill-first general plan that already limits development of hillsides and farmland; because we all need a place to call home; because we want our children and grandparents to be able to buy (or rent) a home here… Measure B is the wrong choice for Ventura.
Housing Opportunities Made Easier (HOME) is a Ventura County nonprofit that promotes a diversity of housing opportunities that are essential for a healthy and sustainable quality of life in Ventura County. Without a range of housing choices within a community, key community members such as our first time homebuyers, young families and the elderly quickly get priced out of the housing and rental market.
Views, hillsides and the ocean are all part of what make Ventura an amazing place to live, but HOME believes that public viewsheds can be preserved without sacrificing our economic vitality and housing options. HOME supports a continuum of housing choices available to all Ventura residents. Just as there are cars for sale at a variety of price points, touting an assortment of bells and whistles, so too should housing choices mirror the diverse needs of Ventura County residents. Measure B would only further restrict the supply of housing choices in the City of Ventura.
Measure B directly contradicts the infill, intensification and re-use mantra of the city of Ventura, and the city’s goal to be a leader in implementing smart growth land use policies and practices. Further, Ventura City voters passed the S.O.A.R (Save Open-Space and Agricultural Resources) Initiative in 1995, which prohibits development of protected agricultural lands by directing future growth to infill sites within city boundaries — development on land adjacent to and between existing development. This type of sustainable “smart growth” allows for a more efficient use of the land that is developed, by promoting higher density use within already developed areas, while preserving farmlands and open space.
Measure B proposes to limit development to 26 feet — in many cases, that is less than two stories! This draconian proposition creates stringent building limitations that seriously decrease the financial feasibility of new development, and therefore the ability of developers to build housing that is affordable to local residents. Any new development needs to pencil — the cost to build must be supported by the anticipated sales price, or rental income. Prudent business demands profitability; it is common sense, not greed as VCORD supporters would have you believe.
Regardless of the intentions of Ventura voters, the population of our fair city is going to grow. Unless we want to voluntarily relegate ourselves to spending mornings and evenings in traffic, we must provide suitable housing for our community.
Further, simple rules of supply and demand tell us that a restricted supply and increasing demand will raise prices. The less housing available to the people who want to live here, the higher prices will soar.
Let’s be honest here: it’s a numbers game! Density decreases the per-unit cost of new development; decreasing per-unit cost increases housing affordability; increasing housing affordability enables those essential community members like first time homebuyers (the future of our community!) to start building their lives in Ventura.
Housing is the cornerstone of a healthy community, and Measure B is yet another case of the initiative process being hijacked by a special interest group of local no-growth advocates. Whether it’s under the guise of limiting traffic or protecting views, anti-growth initiatives cripple our community by keeping home prices artificially inflated and creating a nearly insurmountable barrier of entry.
HOME urges you to vote NO on Measure B!
Emily Melander is the executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Easier.