California is dealing with a housing crisis, with some of the most expensive home and rental prices in the country. Two measures on the November ballot are trying to change that, but some Santa Maria city leaders are cautioning voters to be careful about how they vote.
The median rental price in Santa Maria is close to $2,000 a month. While there are some affordable housing opportunities under construction, like the new development off Depot Street, questions remain about who should be footing the bill to open up more.
The 80-unit affordable housing project in Santa Maria is designed for families with special needs, like veterans, those with disabilities and low-income families. But Santa Maria’s mayor is questioning the cost.
“That 80 unit cost $37 million dollars to build. I divided each unit, and some are two and three bedrooms, it’s $462,000 a unit. Now this is your money, guys,” said Mayor Alice Patino.
During the State of the City address on Wednesday, Mayor Patino shared her concerns about ballot measures like Proposition 1 and 10 which would create more projects like these and allow cities to have more rent control.
“So when you guys go to the ballot, or if you have not sent out your ballots yet, please read that carefully. It sounds really, really good but we know so often, especially in the state of California, they tell us they’re going to do one thing and then they use the money over here and they don’t do that. It’s a crime. We have people saying, ‘Yeah, we want affordable housing’ but you get to Sacramento and they pile all these things on the builders and developers,” she said.
Patino went on to say she disagreed with the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors’ way of making decisions, likely referencing their recent vote to approve the $3.17 million loan for the Depot Street project.
“Really, pay attention to that person you elect. Boy, they really don’t think the same down in South County as we do here. Sometimes I don’t understand how they think. I’ve served on boards with Salud Carbajal, with Janet Wolfe and I like them, they’re nice people, I just don’t agree with them on how money should be spent,” Patino said.
For Hazel Davalos, the Organizing Director of C.A.U.S.E, these propositions are needed to start chipping away at the state’s housing problem.
“When I hear about more affordable housing in our community, I get excited. I believe that the housing crisis is the biggest challenge our state is facing and one of the biggest local challenges we have and there’s no silver bullet, there’s no magic solution but these both would help solve the problem,” Davalos explained.
The project off Depot Street was funded by several local, state and federal grants and loans. Proposition 1 would use a $4 billion state bond to help create more affordable housing across California.