Over the last few months, there has been a lot of talk about the need to stop the application process when it comes to residential construction projects in Ventura, or really, put a “pause” on accepting any new applications until the end of the year. Many assertions have been made such as, that too many affordable housing units have been built over the last several years; that there isn’t and hasn’t been a good balance of market rate rentals, for sale homes and affordable housing units being built or have been proposed; that our water situation demands we stop accepting applications until we get a good handle on our future needs and current resources. These assertions really don’t have much credence when looking at the actual data.
It’s almost preposterous to think that the city is considering halting the application process altogether for at least eight months, especially when there is no guarantee that the City Council won’t extend this “pause” if the city staff hasn’t completed all the work ordered by the Council by that time. Given our volatile economy, our wretchedly unaffordable rental market, the particularly slow pace by which too many projects get their final approvals, etc., the proposed pause simply doesn’t make sense. Further, the pace we have been growing over the last 15 years shows that we have had a good balance of for sale single family homes, condos and rentals, plus some affordable housing projects, and we are continuing on a similar track. Also the pace at which we’re growing is below what is called for in the General Plan.
In this week’s edition, “It’s a numbers game” explores Ventura’s housing situation, in the most minute detail possible as well as how this pause would affect many things. We found that there is mainly bad news ahead if this pause goes through and are dismayed by the use of ambiguous terms to scare people into believing that we are in a crisis if we should let one more developer submit a housing application. The pause is counterproductive at best, detrimental to many at worst.
If the City Council wants a Residential Growth Management Plan (RGMP), which would allow the City Council to better scrutinize housing projects, we believe that it can be created simultaneously, allowing the application process to proceed. We have also been told that the creation of the RGMP would be done by city staff not involved in planning and accepting applications. We can’t be certain that the RGMP is a good idea, but whatever the case may be best for Ventura, we know there should be a better way to getting projects moving forward as so many have stagnated in the planning process. If, however, the use of an RGMP slows down the development process and takes up too much of the City Council’s time to focus on other important issues, we feel that this would not be a proper way to pace development. We hope that more time and energy are dedicated to improving what appears to be a somewhat broken system rather than creating yet another situation that may not make anything better.