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New Project Under Construction May Help With South Coast Housing Shortfall

An earth mover rumbles across a hillside on Ventura’s Westside. Off in the distance, you can see stakes in the ground, and workers setting the stage for the cement foundations of some new homes to be poured.

It’s a new development called Solana Heights, a 27 acre project off of Ventura Road, near South School Canyon Road. The 147 units include condos, as well as single family homes. The project is significant because it’s going to bring some badly needed new homes to the Ventura, and Ventura County market.

Ken Melvin is the Vice President of Project Development with CalAtlantic Homes, the developer building the project. He says the project includes three brand new parks, including a dedicated dog park.

The South Coast has been in the middle of a housing shortage for decades. Making it even more acute is that aside from affordable housing projects, when is built is often high end, out of the price range of average families.

The region is far from alone in facing this issue. A study by a Bay Area non-profit group called “Next 10” shows that California is 49th in the nation in terms of affordability.

Eric Nasarenko is Ventura’s Mayor. He says with condos in the new development starting in the mid $400- thousand dollar range, and single family home starting in the $500’s, this project could help some families get into home ownership.

Former Ventura City Councilman Carl Morehouse admits it was a long road for the project to get to this point where construction is underway. The original proposal for what’s known as the Willet Ranch property is more than a decade old, and had to get through a lawsuit and the recession to get built.

To clear the way for the project, the Willet Ranch House, which was built in the 1900’s, was moved, and will be restored, as part of settlement with preservationists. CalAtlantic will seek historic status for the restored home and outbuildings, which will be sold into private ownership.

The first homes will go on the market in about six months.

Ventura officials say while this is the biggest new housing development in the city in years, it’s only a part of what’s going to be needed to solve the ongoing housing shortfall. But, they say this new influx of housing will make a dent in the problem.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.