California Lutheran University held its annual forecast, with special speakers John Krist, CEO of the Ventura County Farm Bureau, presenting “Seeking Common Ground”; and Billy Chun, deputy mayor of economic development in Los Angeles, presenting “Los Angeles’ Jobs and Housing Strategy.” Matthew Fineup, executive director of the CLU Center of Economic Research and Forecasting, presented “Let’s Talk Solutions.”

For “Seeking Common Ground,” Krist highlighted several cities and regions to show about how ag preservation and nature preservation coexist and how locals were able to come together and find amicable solutions for both issues.

Reviewing “Los Angeles’ Jobs and Housing Strategy,” Chun talked about Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s goal to “build as much as we can.” Chun said that the goal was to build 100,000 new housing units by 2021 and that the city had built 60,000 so far. He said the mayor wanted to make “affordable housing projects top priority,” including make it easier for developers to build and create an incentive for affordable housing developers. This incentive included creating a funding mechanism for these developers. Chun did note that Los Angeles’ homeless population had grown and said that while downtown L.A. once had a 2 percent to 3 percent rental vacancy rate, it was now at around 10 percent.

During “Let’s Talk Solutions,” Fineup discussed the fact that Ventura County experienced a “significant recession” in 2016, the local economy having shrunk by 3 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This recession occurred after two years of nearly no growth; the recession is quantified by a declining labor force loss of good-paying jobs and loss of nearly $1 billion of output of nondurable manufacturing.

Fineup explained how Amgen of Thousand Oaks announced it would “pare” 10 percent of its labor force to Tampa, Florida, because of the affordable cost of living and potential for growth. He also said that the county’s domestic migration was negative for the 14th year in a row, meaning that more people are leaving than coming. Fineup via CLU center predicted that 2017 and 2018 would be a little better for growth than last year, but not by much. Fineup relayed that in order to address the high cost of housing, construction was critical; and he offered the idea of land trusts, where affordable housing would be built and potentially be bound indefinitely to be affordable, unlike current affordable housing projects that have a time limit before reverting back to market rate. He referred to similar projects with such trusts in Sonoma County and talked about how Derek Poultney of the Ventura Land Trust had discussed this opportunity with him for Ventura County.