Livable Communities Newsletter
Vol. 13, No. 51
August 2019
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Welcome to Our Summer 2019 Livable Communities Newsletter! 
This edition of our Livable Communities Newsletter celebrates this summer's release of the 2019 State of the Region report, and explores follow-up opportunities to build on one of the topic discussions that was so strong among those in attendance. 
The county's housing crisis generated a lot of interest at both the July 17th roll-out meeting at California Lutheran University and the August 7th session at Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura.

The first article by Stacy Roscoe attempts to connect the dots among the many facts reviewed in the discussion of housing and transportation. Hopefully we will be able to shed light on what the housing crisis is, and what it is not. This is followed by an action item in the works by Linda Braunschweiger to grow the Housing Trust Fund Ventura County. We have a tremendous opportunity to procure a $10MM through a matching grant to fund affordable housing in the county. The final article by Kerry Roscoe is a real thought provoker as she offers stimulus for thinking "outside the box" coming from 18 centuries of dealing with the issue of density in the city of Lyons, France.   The message is not to try to do the same thing, but to exercise creative thinking in our time and place.
Please read and engage, and  let us know what you think by contacting us at:
Stacy Roscoe

Ventura County Home Purchase and Apartment Rental Outlook
The 2019 State of the Region Report provides important data, and now the hard work begins to connect the dots, identify possible conclusions, and find solutions to problems. Since it was such a significant topic for discussion during the two roll-out events, we will start with housing.
Since 2015, Ventura is not suffering from urban sprawl or from lack of new homes coming on the market. Between 2014 and 2016, acres of land built-up to become urban property increased by only 0.08% (105,671 to 105,966 acres). Housing starts as measured by building permits issued from 2015 through 2017 averaged 1869 units per year when current Ventura County population growth requires 1700 new units per year. A large number of these new units permits are for rental housing.

Therefore, It appears that the housing problem that we currently face is pricing that our purchase and rental markets cannot handle. Housing affordability (% of the Ventura County households who can afford to buy the median-priced home) between 2015 and 2018 decreased 3% to 63.2%. House and condominium cost increased 18% during this time. The 2018 median home price is now $589,000. One conclusion is that the cost to build our housing makes the price higher than many buyers (and renters) can pay.
The cost to rent an apartment (both the average 2 bedroom unit and units of all sizes) increased 14% between 2015 and 2018. There may be some relief in sight on the rental front, but until we get 2019 information, there is not enough data to know for sure. The 2018 increase for rent cost was below 2% This level of cost increase is 1/3 the increase seen in purchased housing prices during the same period. Is it possible that a large number of apartment units resulting from the most recent batch of permits issued is starting bring down higher rents? 2019 rent cost data will be important for helping us to know if we are really starting to make a positive impact on housing cost.

One symptom of unaffordable housing is the increasing travel distance that Ventura County residents experience as workers are forced to move further away from employment sites to find affordable housing.
Since 2014, the current Ventura County workforce has experienced:
1. A 6% drop in the number of commuters that have had a drive to work that is less than 25 minutes.
2. A 20% increase in the number of commuters that have experienced a drive to work that is between 25 to 40 minutes.
3. An 11% increase in the number of commuters that have experienced a commute that is between 45 to 90 minutes.
More local affordable housing will allow shorter commutes, and there will be fewer miles driven with less congestion and pollution.

Do the dots connect differently for you? Let us know by contacting


Housing Trust Fund Ventura County is Ready with Solutions

by Linda Braunschweiger

Housing Trust Fund Ventura County has a rare opportunity to bring a $10 million dollar matching grant from California State Proposition 1 to Ventura County to fund new affordable housing development.  Our community continues to be one of most expensive places to live in the country.   While multifamily development increased over the last ten years in CA, both multifamily and affordable housing production remains well below the goal.  Housing prices are driving the cost of living out of reach for many residents of Ventura County and having a significant impact on the economic stability of our community. 
Since the Housing Trust Fund Ventura County's inception in 2011, as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, it has become the local trusted leader in helping to increase affordable housing options throughout Ventura County. The HTF leverages public-private partnerships to provide low-cost, flexible loans early in the housing development cycle. As of July 2019, HTFVC has invested $8 million through its revolving loan fund, creating 301 affordable apartments and homes for very-low, low- and middle income employees, transitional age foster youth, veterans, farm workers, and the homeless.
The organization has set a goal to raise the first $5 million of the funds required for the matching grant by the end of 2019 and already has close to $2.5MM committed.  Linda Braunschweiger, CEO, said: "We need everyone's help to raise the $10MM match from the County, all ten cities, financial institutions, businesses, and individuals.  As a community, we must step up financially to ensure we don't leave any of the $10MM of tax payers' dollars in Sacramento."  HTFVC has a sizable pipeline of affordable housing projects currently being developed throughout the County that are in need of funding.  

To learn more about how you can help with the $10 million matching campaign, please contact Linda Braunschweiger at 805-407-2455 or visit their website at

 Can Eighteen Centuries of Managing Density Show Us How to   Think Outside the Box in the 21st Century in Ventura County?

by Kerry Roscoe
Lack of sufficient housing to meet the needs of a growing population is nothing new. A recent trip to Europe has prompted me to look at the housing crisis in new ways. Cities there have been facing this for centuries and we may be able to learn a thing or two from them about working with what we have and seeking unconventional solutions.
Lyon, France has been dealing with this since the Middle Ages. What was once a small town on the Saone River started to grow rapidly because its strategic location at the confluence of two rivers, the Saone & the Rhone, made it a major trade hub.
Lyon's history shows an interesting way of dealing with an ever rising demand for housing. Founded in 43 BC, the first Roman settlements were on Fourvière Hill. When the aqueducts failed in the 4th Century, the population, located at the top of the hill, had no access to water. Consequently, people had to move down the hill and the "Vieux-Lyon" area started to be populated since it was closer to the rivers. Houses being built along the narrow streets that paralleled the river were limited to 10 meters wide to provide as many as possible. The three story buildings were set right on the street with gardens in the back of the very deep lots.
As the population grew, houses were built right next to each other (much like the Baltimore row houses). An unintended consequence was that very long blocks made it tricky to get from one street to the next without having to make a huge detour.
The city decided that they would require that traboules (narrow, covered passageways connecting the parallel streets) be built every so many houses to link the streets and allow easier transit for residents and merchants. As more and more houses were built, these traboules became the main access to other streets and the river.
Through the Middle Ages, the city developed on both banks of the Saone, but could not keep up with the growing population. As trade boomed In the 14th and 15th centuries, the gardens behind the street side houses were built up with more houses.

The 15th century arrival of Italian commercial bankers brought an infusion of money and the influence of the DiMedici style was becoming evident in the architecture. During the later Renaissance, the population increased from 25,000 inhabitants around 1450 AD to 35,000 people in
1520 AD, and to twice that figure thirty years later.


A Special Thank You Goes to Our State of the Region Report Sponsors:

Research Sponsor - 

Ventura County Community Foundation

Presenting Sponsor - 

Ventura County Community College District

Domain Sponsors - 

California Lutheran University  Center for Economics of Social Issues
California State University Channel Islands 
County of Ventura
Haas Automation Inc.
Montecito Bank & Trust

Supporting Sponsors -

Gold Coast Transit
The Port of Hueneme
United Staffing Associates
Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors
VCDSA - Ventura County Deputy Sheriff's Association
Ventura County Office of Education
Ventura County P-20 Council

Contributing Sponsors -

California Lutheran University Center for Nonprofit Leadership
SESPE Consulting Inc.
Ventura County Credit Union
Ventura County Transportation Commission

Friend Sponsors -

Dyer Sheehan Group, Inc.
David Maron
Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP
Kate McLean
Slover Memorial Fund
Stacy and Kerry Roscoe
Terri & Mark Lisigor
United Way of Ventura County

Media Sponsor - 

Pacific Coast Business Times