A median home price of $589,000, which less than a quarter of SLO County residents can afford. Median household incomes of just under $60,000, which can buy fewer than 14 percent of houses on the market.

2019 slo county housing summit

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The statistics on home affordability in SLO County, as many of us know, are bleak. But there’s hope in embracing bold ideas and new ways of looking at things, as the 2019 SLO County Housing Summit explored in an engaging discussion March 22.

The summit brought together state Sen. Scott Weiner, Stanford University’s Newsha Ajami,  Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Carl Guardino, and CityLab’s Laura Bliss, all leading voices in the housing conversation statewide, moderated by SLO County administrative officer Wade Horton.

While specific ideas varied, the panelists agreed that moving the needle on housing will take coming to the table with open minds, exploring new ideas, and moving beyond simply reiterating the problem and notions of what won’t work.

Other critical components of progress, according to the panelists: working the problem from all sides, involving diverse interests across the region; and considering the interconnected nature of housing, infrastructure, technology and water.

The summit was put on by the Housing Collaborative of the Central Coast, made up of the Economic Vitality Corporation, the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast and the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by the California Association of Realtors.

Among the many ideas discussed during the summit:

  • Treating housing like education, with clear statewide standards and room for local variance within those standards. “With no standards,” Weiner says, “every project is a war.”
  • Streamlining CEQA, at the least, to prevent abuse.
  • Changing how we view “neighborhood character.” Communities can add more density and welcome more neighbors, Weiner argued, by embracing people as much as physical characteristics.
  • Not waiting for infrastructure to build housing: If we do, we’ll never build enough homes.
  • Launching Innovative cross-sector financing for smaller, more local water projects.

Watch videos recapping the event below and find out more about the speakers and their work here.

As California continues to make strides in rebuilding its public transportation and infrastructures, keynote speaker and California State Sen. Scott Wiener lays out some of the current housing issues facing California and its local communities.

Sen. Scott Wiener and Newsha K. Ajami from Stanford University discusses how “fixing” the housing problem goes hand in hand with other projects such as infrastructure and public transportation. Ajami emphasizes how the resources from different sectors like water and infrastructure can also be spent on housing.

What is community character? California State Senator Scott Wiener discusses how a community, like San Luis Obispo, can maintain its physical look of a neighborhood, while accommodate a growing population.

California State Senator Scott Wiener, Newsha K Ajami from Stanford University, Carl Guardino from Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Laura Bliss from CityLab share some of their endorsements to help with the housing crisis. This includes Senate Bill 50, authored by Scott Wiener, which relaxes the limitations of low-density zones.