Organizations from San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties gathered at the Embassy Suites in Seaside on Nov. 30 for the fourth annual State of the Region conference hosted by Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP).
Among the main discussion topics was housing across the three counties. In her introduction, MBEP President Kate Roberts said MBEP forecasts the population in the region to grow 15.5 percent to 898,418 by 2038. In 2017, the population was 777,360.
Roberts added that of this growing population, it was projected that by 2060 14.8 percent of people would be over the age of 75. In 2017, the population of those over 75 was 5.5 percent.
MBEP launched an initiative in 2016 to support an increase in the housing supply in the Monterey Bay region. According to the MBEP website, the Monterey Bay Housing Trust, in partnership with Housing Trust Silicon Valley, provides a loan pool of over $12 million to affordable housing projects.
The conference’s Housing for All panel featured several speakers including moderator and MBEP housing program manager Matt Huerta, Central California Alliance for Health CEO Stephanie Sonnenshine, California Sunshine Development LLC founder Lisa Li, Related California Senior Vice President Meea Kang and Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh. The panel discussed ways that different types of housing are being built in our region.
Throughout the discussion, panelists emphasized how the statewide housing trend is turning to infill projects and that the Central Coast and Central Valley would see a lot development in the coming years. Kang used the term “urban suburbia” to describe what neighborhoods in the tri-county region would look like in the future. Adding that transportation would improve and neighborhoods would become more walkable, she said, “As your neighborhoods grow, look at transportation.”
In his keynote presentation, District 11 State Sen. Scott Wiener said changing zoning laws might be a solution.
“When you ban apartment buildings you also ban affordable housing because you don’t have affordable single-family homes,” he said.
Wiener cited AB 2923 as an example, saying that because of changes in zoning laws, affordable housing can be built next to high-traffic transportation hubs.
In late September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2923 into law, making it easier for developers to build thousands of new homes on properties around the Bay Area owned by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
Wiener later added that while the statewide rent control bill failed to pass in the Nov. 6 election, it was something that could still happen on a local level. He said he will continue to work alongside his fellow senators to implement policies that have some “teeth.”
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