Ten years ago, on Aug. 6, 2002, the mayor and City Council declared the existence of a state of emergency due to severe shortage of affordable housing in the city of San Diego. Rental vacancy rates were low, rents rising at a rate higher than wages and homeownership out of reach for a majority of San Diegans. There was need for 40,000 housing units in five years, just to meet the needs of the population growth in the city.
In a public hearing attended by over a thousand people in Golden Hall, dubbed as “Housing Day,” the city of San Diego adopted a package of policies to address the housing crisis. These were: (1) expedited review of affordable housing and infill developments; (2) affordable housing funds pooled into a citywide $55 million bond, especially using downtown redevelopment set-aside; and (3) the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. Adoption of this package was a culmination of more than a year’s worth of effort by an unprecedented coalition of affordable housing advocates, labor and community groups.
To capture the significance of the housing crisis in the city, here is an excerpt from a memorandum by then-Councilmember Toni Atkins on April 17, 2002: