With thousands of students coming in from outside of the county and almost no vacancy in Santa Barbara, finding affordable housing has been an issue for City College students for years.
In the upcoming Board of Trustees election, student housing has become a theme amongst candidates’ platforms, particularly in the District Five race between Marsha Croninger and Darcel Elliott.
Croninger and Elliott have opposing views on the topic, with Elliott being fully in favor of creating housing on campus for non-locals attending City College. She said she believes that in doing so, the Mesa neighborhood and the greater surrounding Santa Barbara residents would benefit because there would be less students taking away housing from locals and families.
Croninger said she believes that building housing for out of area students would be “quite divisive for the community,” and that it is outside the scope of the Board of Trustees responsibilities.
We on the Channels Editorial Board fully support the idea of creating additional student housing. However, we do not believe that Elliott, or any other candidate for that matter, will be able to solve the housing crisis alone.
Housing in Santa Barbara is a complicated issue that no one person can solve. City College is legally required to accept any student to the college who applies from California, and as the number one ranked community college in the nation, it is a popular choice school even for non-locals.
According to the 2017-2018 Report to the Community, in the Fall 2017 semester about 55 percent of students came from outside the district.
With over half of students coming from outside the area, which is landlocked and unable to expand its borders, housing costs have skyrocketed and students are often living with up to 10 roomates at once. This leaves even less housing options for local residents and working families.
The average cost for a 1-bedroom apartment in Santa Barbara is $1,500, a price that most young professionals working in the area would be unable to pay. Because of this, apartments are given to multiple students to share and working professionals and families are forced to live outside the city in Ventura or Los Angeles and make a daily commute.
Many students also live outside the city and commute for school.
Putting housing units on City College’s campus, like Elliott has proposed, would allow for housing off campus to open up to the rest of the community, and it would allow the college to implement a rent cost control for students living on campus.
There are many unanswered questions with this idea, though. Putting rental units on campus would most likely require a residential parking lot, which is impossible at City College. The amount of parking passes sold to students far exceeds the amount of spots available as it is, and the California Coastal Commission denies permission to the school to build more structures.
We encourage residents to consider this issue long after the election, because this conversation needs to be opened up and not closed down. We shouldn’t let a lack of a clear path forward hinder us from carving one out.