If most of the affordable housing in a region is located far away from areas with more job opportunities, then more people will need to travel long distances to reach their workplace. Across California, more and more people are making longer commutes because of a jobs-housing imbalance. A “jobs-housing imbalance” means some areas in the region have a large number of jobs but less access to affordable housing (“jobs-rich, housing-poor areas”), and other parts of the region have a large amount of affordable housing but limited job opportunities (“housing-rich, jobs-poor areas”).
Santa Barbara County is one of the regions in California with a significant jobs-housing imbalance. It’s estimated that more than 20,000 people commute from Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties to work in the Santa Barbara County region every weekday. Over the past several decades, many South Coast workers have also relocated to areas with more affordable housing in North Santa Barbara County, which has increased long-distance commutes to South Coast job centers.
In the past, local transportation and land-use planning did not always address the increasing imbalance between housing and jobs access. The growing reliance on long-distance commuting has created many challenges for the region that affect people’s quality of life, including traffic jams on busy roads, increased air pollution, rising GHG emissions from transportation, and higher transportation costs for many households.
We are not alone and are working with many other regions in California to create a better future.