REACH is collaborating across government and business to boost the amount of housing available to the region’s workers.
Housing the workforce is a key building block of economic activity and job growth — not to mention a thriving community and desirable quality of life. With cities, business leaders, home builders, and even the military coming together in new ways, we can unlock economic growth and job creation by adding new homes that help Central Coast businesses expand and attract new high-paying jobs to the region.
Our goals, set to meet the REACH 2030 target of 15,000 new good-paying jobs:
A regional strategy that allows the middle-class workforce to afford to live within 20 miles of where they work
Securing investment to fund the infrastructure needed to build enough homes to reach our target
Adoption of local housing elements and policies that prioritize enough housing and infrastructure to reach our target
An urgent call to approve and build more housing
Read an open letter signed by a dozen SLO County organizations along with sentiments from local business leaders.
Space industry growth sparks collaboration
Conversations among cities, builders, the Space Force and US Rep. Carbajal have sprung up around how to accommodate growth at and around VSFB.
To move the needle, the region’s housing policies must address these topline elements:
Ensuring a variety of housing types is available near jobs at prices affordable to the region’s workforce
Roads, water, wastewater
Prioritizing investment in the underlying infrastructure that enables builders to construct new homes where it is most cost effective
Engaging builders and developers — the ones who actually build homes — in the planning process
Aligning a regional strategy around a two-county map of building opportunities
“Twenty years ago, we thought there was a tradeoff between growth and quality of life. Now, there’s a widespread recognition that no, those two go hand in hand.”
“You build housing, your economy will expand.”
“The lack of affordable housing along the coast is the primary constraint holding back job expansion.”
What we mean by "workforce housing"
The words used around housing can be confusing — we all have varying perceptions of what constitutes affordable, and even when used by government, terms like workforce housing can have different definitions across jurisdictions.
Our work at REACH targets housing that’s attainable by the region’s working population. That’s teachers, nurses, firefighters and service members, but also the tech workers, sales reps, engineers and fabricators our businesses need to expand.
That said, low-income housing and solutions to homelessness are important pieces of the puzzle. While not the focus of our work, we broadly support these efforts and our partners who are deeply engaged with them.
How we got here
A whole host of factors has contributed to the shortage of housing in communities across the state and country. Labor and material costs, zoning regulations, onerous approval processes and environmental requirements, NIMBYism, vacation rentals, corporate ownership — the list could on.
But the bottom line is this: Like many of those other communities, home building on the Central Coast simply has not kept pace with population and job growth.
Economic growth not your thing? It's also quality of life
In concrete terms, it’s about whether businesses can attract and retain workers to fill jobs.
Whether or not you are concerned with job growth, the impact takes a toll not just on business conditions but day-to-day life on the Central Coast.
- It can take longer to get medical appointments, home repairs, or a host of other services.
- Restaurants are forced to cut their hours or even shut down, while studios, salons and gyms cut back on classes and appointments.
- Local governments lose out on added revenue to fund things like parks, pothole repairs, and storm preparedness and response.
- And most tragically, our friends, neighbors and kids are forced to look elsewhere for job opportunities and affordable housing.
The quality of life in a community that can’t house its workers is not sustainable in the long run.
What infrastructure has to do with it
All we mean here by infrastructure is roads, water and wastewater service — things you need before you can build new homes. In many places across the Central Coast, new homes can’t be built because these pieces are lacking and need to be put in place to, ahem, pave the way for homes.
So, addressing housing often means first addressing the underlying infrastructure needed to enable it.