San Diego leaders often point to city and regional plans to build more housing. In practice, we know the gap between what is needed and what is actually being built is in fact widening.
Residential hotels, also referred to as single-room occupancy hotels, or SROs, are often the housing of last resort for low-wage workers and folks on fixed incomes. As of October 2015, there were 3,872 single-room occupancy units within the city, down significantly from the 8,950 units counted in a 2003 survey.
A slate of November ballot measures would give local residents in cities across the state the power to veto or stop development projects. Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to wrestle some control over building decisions away from locals. The conflict between cities and the state has ramped up in recent years, and it’s coming to a head.
Encinitas has placed itself in a tough legal position. Local voters could reject the city’s plan to accommodate new housing – a plan required by state law. Encinitas is the only city in the county, and one of a few in the state, without a legal housing plan.
One of Ed Harris’ first acts as a city councilman in 2014 was to stage a protest against a city plan to add density near a planned trolley stop in Bay Park. Now, Harris is running for mayor and talking up the need to build new housing near transit – just what the proposal he opposed intended to do. In an interview, he said he’s changed his perspective.
Many of the homeless San Diegans we see every day are not newcomers who arrived here recently for the nice weather. They are our older, disabled, English-learning, fixed-income adults and veterans who thought they had secure, affordable housing – until they received a letter from a developer, telling them they no longer do.
If ever a housing development was ripe to cut down on parking spaces, it would be National City’s Paradise Creek. Yet a push from the city to reduce parking spaces for the development never got off the ground. The struggle reveals one of the region’s biggest challenges when it comes to providing affordable housing and encouraging the use of public transit.
Barbara Bry, who’s running for City Council, recently wrote that Save San Diego Neighborhoods, a group trying to enforce tighter controls on vacation rentals, found more than 6,000 homes had been converted to mini-hotels citywide. Bry, who’s endorsed by the group, said those rentals were “directly contributing to the housing shortage” by removing them from the long-term renter or buyer market.
It’s no secret we have a long way to go to address our housing crisis. But what we cannot do is halt innovation under the false pretense it will solve this problem.
Critics of density bonus use the false argument that because production under the program has failed to solve the affordability problem in its entirety, the program must not work.