Holt Pfeiler, who resides in Escondido, is the president and CEO of the Building Industry Association of San Diego. Parent resides in La Mesa and works as Circulate San Diego’s executive director and general attorney. Russell, who resides in North Park, is the president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Federation.
As in other parts of the state, the ongoing housing crisis is far from ended in San Diego. Limited housing availability, exorbitant rents, and persistent homelessness are daily effects. A increasing number of families are looking eastward to Nevada, Arizona, and Texas in search of houses they can afford, changing the way San Diegans traditionally looked for inexpensive housing in adjacent counties. To the dismay of locals in Boise, Idaho, more and more Californians are seeking asylum there, as seen by the proliferation of California license plates on the city’s roads.
The San Diego City Council has often said that it intends to solve the housing supply problem. The Affordable Homes Bonus Program, which was established in 2016 with the aim of encouraging the construction of affordable units, was the first step in this direction. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System followed it up in 2019 with a scheme to build affordable houses on underutilized parking lots close to transit centers, and the results can be seen sprouting up from once-empty lots. Affordable housing has increased as a result of both.
The Complete Communities Program was subsequently established by the council in 2020 to give regulatory certainty and expedited approvals for developments that supplied affordable housing in areas designated as Transit Priority Areas. As the crow flies, these developments are only half a mile away from public transportation. The initial results are promising. In these places, there are now 2.5 times as many new homes as would have been possible without the initiative.
Through the most recent Land Development Code Update, the City Council may now change the Complete Communities Program by redefining where new houses may be constructed and by swapping out Transit Priority Areas for Sustainable Development Areas. The change would redefine this area’s distance from public transportation as a 1-mile walk rather than a half-mile as the crow flies. City authorities contend, and rightly so, that this will expand the amount of land that might be developed by more than 5,200 acres, probably leading to a rise in the number of homes built close to transportation.
We wholeheartedly concur as the respective leaders of the regional Building Industry Association, the transit-friendly Circulate San Diego, and the San Diego Housing Federation, which focuses on affordable housing.
The Complete Communities Program and the regional Accessory Dwelling Unit Bonus Program, which let families to build an extension to their house to increase living space, would both be altered by the prospective change in San Diego. The state’s Density Bonus Program, which similarly permits a rise in the number of units in a project in return for affordable housing, would not be impacted.
While promoting subsidized affordable housing is commendable, more must be done to guarantee a robust housing market as a whole. Middle-class housing must be prioritized more, yet legislative barriers, land competition, rising fees, and material costs provide builders with challenging obstacles to surmount. If home providers are to have any chance of producing middle income housing at appreciable levels, more reforms are required, such as self-certification, which enables licensed professionals to preapprove their designs, by-right processing, which reduces reviews for projects that comply with the community plan requirements, and shortening the time it takes for projects to go before the City Council for final approval.
Despite the progress made in the last eight years to boost the total supply, the actual number of dwellings produced each year in the county has stayed around 10,000 since 2015. According to the San Diego Association of Governments, the area must build 21,000 houses annually to stay up. Sadly, the region appears to have generated fewer homes in 2022 than it did in 2021, according to the Construction Industry Research Board in Sacramento. Housing production in San Diego is probably going to be around the same in 2022 as it was in 2021. San Diego doesn’t need this fashion trend.
San Diego’s efforts to build the additional houses the city so sorely needs depend on initiatives like Complete Communities, and city leaders must resist any attempts by certain detractors to push back. The heated 2022 City Council election of Kent Lee, who ran on a platform mainly in favor of housing, shows that the general public appears to concur. Additionally, in two recent municipal elections, voters decided to lift severe height restrictions in the Midway region in order to accommodate additional residences.
The City Council should be praised for taking the housing problem seriously and acting, but obviously more has to be done. Every legislative action it makes should be evaluated in relation to how it will affect the capacity of house builders to build new homes. Better interdepartmental communication is required to avoid unnecessary delays, and the review procedure must be reorganized to reduce the time periods for all dwelling kinds.
The ability to accomplish these goals has been demonstrated by San Diego. All that its leaders need to do is continue on. They are relied upon by families in San Diego.