Democratic congresswoman Lois Capps of Santa Barbara will retire at the end of this term. The district should be competitive and it did result in a 51.9%-48.1% result in 2014 even though the Republican, Chris Mitchum, was a 71 year old Tea Party candidate who was massively outspent. An open seat should be much easier. On the other hand, Republicans had a great year in 2014. You need no more evidence than that a 71 year old Tea Partier who was dramatically outspent only lost by 3.8%. Abel Maldonado's spending was much closer to Lois Capps and he lost by 10.2% in 2012.
The 2016 electorate will look a lot like 2012 and the NRCC has shown no interest in helping in most California districts. So it's hard to see them changing that direction. Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is the best GOP candidate. Achadjian is termed out of the assembly. He won an R+3 district by 22.6% in 2012. So he ran 11% ahead of Mitt Romney. Former state senator Sam Blakeslee could run, as well as three 2014 candidates, Mitchum, Justin Fareed, and Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco
Lois Capps' daughter Laura is regarded as a possible candidate. She wasn't living in Santa Barbara until recently. While Capps does have extensive ties to the district, she'd be the latest of a long line of Democratic candidates who move to a district to run. Democratic Assemblyman Das Williams could also run. If he does I'd favor him over Capps. A legacy candidacy can only take you so far.