San Diego looking at public land for new affordable housing

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California Construction News staff writer

San Diego city and county officials say they will work together to build 10,000 subsidized housing units on government-owned land, get rid of regulatory barriers to housing construction and find ways to encourage more high-rise projects.

The unanimously approved commitments came at a joint meeting of San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Officials also voted to look at development already approved to see if housing numbers can be increased.

Calling the crisis too big for one body to solve independently, the County Board of Supervisors (Board) and San Diego city council “are coming together to jointly acknowledge and address the region’s top issue: the affordable housing crisis, the meeting agenda stated.

“The lack of affordable housing in our region is negatively impacting our economic growth and is the primary driver of our homelessness problem. The county and the city will commit to working together on innovative and practical steps to help us realize 10,000 new units of affordable housing by 2030.”

In order to meet the 2030 state goal, San Diego must build 172,000 overall housing units. Almost are expected to be for low-income residents, a step toward the goal of 69,000 low-income units to be built across the region by 2030 — 42,000 units for very low-income residents and 27,000 for low-income residents.

Utilizing government-owned land is a key part of the new strategy, councillors agreed.

Last week’ joint meeting, which took place at San Diego State University, included a presentation by the nonprofit San Diego Foundation identifying 503 government-owned properties totalling 2,400 acres.

New policies were approved to allow more high-rise and mid-rise subsidized projects on the 175 properties developed with one- and two-story projects that don’t use the land to solve the housing crisis as well as more dense projects would.

A staff report indicates the region’s affordable housing crisis has gotten worse since the pandemic with those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum most adversely impacted and recent studies showing Black renters in San Diego are the most burdened by rent and spend 18% more of their income on rent compared to Black households nationally. Also, homeownership rates among Whites still far outpace homeownership rates among Latinos and Black households.

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