Voters in the City of Oceanside will be asked in November 2018 to consider an initiative, commonly known as the SOAR Initiative, which would require public approval for any change in the zoning of land currently designated for agriculture or open space. Because most open space used for parks and recreational activities is City-owned and already requires a vote of the people for any zoning change, the Initiative primarily involves the future of the 3,340 acres of agriculturally-zoned land in the northeast part of the City known as South Morro Hills.
The SOAR Initiative has many worthy goals, including protecting the environment, helping agriculture, and creating a City with a high quality of life. This study analyzes the direct and indirect effects the Initiative would produce, including some of the unintended consequences. The results would likely be very different from those envisioned by the individuals who drafted the Initiative and those who have supported it.
Key takeaways include the following:•Other communities adopting a SOAR Initiative or similar policies have suffered slower job gains and rising home prices. Ventura County, which has been the template for Oceanside’s Initiative, has shifted from a region outperforming the State to one of underperformance. Companies have departed the County in record numbers.
•Oceanside faces a housing crisis, as home prices have been rising at a 10% pace during the past five years while wages have increased by less than 2.5% per year.
•The City has achieved less than 15% of its State-mandated housing target for 2021, whereas it should be at more than 50% of its goal by now. The Initiative would make it exceedingly difficult for the City to achieve its future housing goals.
•Companies’ primary constraint now involves the supply of workers, which in turn depends on the availability of housing. Without adequate housing businesses will be forced to either downsize or leave the City.
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Download an additional Report by Mark Schniepp, Director of the California Economic Forecast