Dear Community Members, 

I’m writing to let you know about efforts your city has initiated in response to one of the greatest challenges our community has faced and to urge you to get informed and involved. 

California law mandates cities and counties to adequately plan for future housing that meets projected needs throughout the state. Despite decades of planning for this growth, housing production in California has lagged demand and in recent years the state has declared a crisis, significantly increasing the amount of housing that must be planned for and passing laws that limit cities and counties say over where and how that housing gets built. 

Carpinteria is mandated to plan for 901 housing units over the next eight years. There are currently about 5,000 households in Carpinteria, meaning these additional 901 housing units, if all constructed, would increase the City’s housing stock by 18 percent. To put that into perspective, over the past 40 years Carpinteria’s population has grown about 15 percent, including a relatively flat period over the last three decades. Planning for an 18 percent increase in housing units means planning for more households and the related service demands of those additional people.  

Determining how Carpinteria will plan for 901 new housing units is challenging enough, but a more significant issue for Carpinteria may be how the County of Santa Barbara determines to plan for its own housing allocation in the unincorporated areas outside of the south coast cities of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta. 

The county has identified 11 potential sites directly adjacent to Carpinteria City limits where the county could propose rezoning agricultural land to allow building high density residential development.  

The expected number of housing units that could result from the rezoning of those parcels of land would range between 745 and 3,044 units, depending on the final density and number of sites that the county selects. These housing units would be in addition to the 901 units the city is planning for over the next eight years and the already pending application for the county’s Bailard Avenue housing project, which calls for 168 new housing units immediately adjacent to the city.

Using the city’s average household size of 2.65 persons and the county’s sites under consideration in the valley, the build out of the housing being planned for by the city and county could result in a population increase ranging from roughly 4,800 additional residents up to 10,900 additional residents. In this most extreme scenario, the possible population growth in the Carpinteria Valley would result in a near doubling of the city’s current population over the next decade. Even at the lower end of the range, Carpinteria Valley could expect to see the equivalent of a roughly one-third increase in the city’s population. 

In any of these scenarios, these new residents will place additional strain on city resources and make demands on public services without any guarantee that tax revenue will be sufficient to pay for those services. Perhaps even more alarming, the new California laws driving this housing production do very little to ensure all of this growth will result in housing that is even affordable to the people that live and work in the Carpinteria community.

I have serious concerns about the potential for the county plan resulting in negative impacts to precious coastal resources, including agriculture, that our community has worked so tirelessly to protect, and the ability to meet the needs of a large and dispersed population in the Valley. 

I am also very disappointed, given the location of the county’s housing sites directly adjacent to the city and the obvious implications that building this housing would have on city services, that there has been no effort to work collaboratively with the city to date.   

I expressed these concerns as a part of my comments at a Nov. 17 county workshop and requested that they take a step back and engage in a collaborative process to determine where and how much housing is appropriate in the Carpinteria Valley. 

I will continue to advocate for the city taking a strong position on the issues raised by the county’s plan. 

I also wish to encourage everyone to engage in the county’s process to ensure your voices are heard. Information can be found at the County’s Housing Element Update website here: 



Wade Nomura is the mayor of Carpinteria. He can be reached at 

(1) comment


A stringent study of the water needed for this will disqualify these pretty draconian growth projections. We do not live in a sustainable area based on some of these densities.

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