The failure of two measures in November tells us a lot about why the county isn’t making headway in dealing with the region’s housing crisis.
The rejection of Measure T in Encinitas and Measure B countywide sent a message that many county residents simply aren’t open to new development – whether it happens in established metro areas, or in rural spaces. The fact that the proposals even went to the ballot drives home the paralysis elected officials face when it comes to building more housing.
“Developers always lose, and the reason they lose is because people don’t like change,” said Gary London, president of The London Group Realty Advisors. “It’s embedded in our DNA. What I find most troubling was the fact that our policymakers punt. That’s the ultimate indictment here. It’s the failure of elected officials, whether it’s the Encinitas City Council, whether it’s the Board of Supervisors. Whenever these kinds of issues end up on the ballot, they haven’t done their job.”
Measure T represented one way to deal with the state’s housing problems – build where there’s already development. The measure would have implemented a plan required by the state, called a housing element, allowing for more density in certain parts of the city. A housing element opens the door for more affordable housing to be built, since more affordable homes generally need to be built at higher densities to finance the lower costs of each unit.
Roughly 56 percent of Encinitans rejected that plan, even with the threat of lawsuits and the loss of local land use control being held over them.
Measure B represented another potential answer to how to build more housing. The developers of the Lilac Hills Ranch project wanted permission to build 1,746 homes where current zoning only allows 110. The development was proposed for a rural area near Valley Center in the northeastern part of the county.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
We really should change NIMBY to NOPIDO, (Not On Property I Don't Own). It highlights the ridiculousness of this type of thinking.
It really breaks down to the fact that private property rights should supersede the neighbors opinions unless actual safety issues are present.
If it's not your deeded property, if there is not a legitimate safety issue, but you don't like what someone else is doing with land you don't own, too bad. If you want to oversee it's development, buy it. If you don't want development and can't afford it, create a group of like minded individuals, buy the property and put an open space conservation easement on it.
I for one am tired of little tyrants who attempt to wield the power of the government to suppress the rights of others. It is an overreach. I see as no different than those who try to use government to control another person, or in this case their personal property. What you do with your privately held body is against what I want, so I should have the right to control it.
Trying to control property you don't own, through local opposition and political pressure is in my view a very oppressive action. An unwarranted initiation of force against another party. You can try to justify it by talking about traffic, congestion, roads, schools, the climate etc.
Many of the common NIMBY (NOPIDO) complaints that are legitimate regarding the stress create by new development on public infrastructure are the not even related to private property itself. Rather they highlight the failure of the government to invest in the new/future larger population base. This should be a shared concern of all.
Most citizens share this view, government is extremely inefficient when it comes to adapting and planning for populations needs. Don't blame new residents for people in the public sectors failure. People are moving to California, that will not stop anytime in the foreseeable future. The planners know this, the legislatures know this, they should be investing in our shared future.
Some highlight social strains created through development, but because they may be inconvenienced does not give them permission to assault someones private property rights.
The truth is many would greatly benefit from density. Many would benefit from more affordable development. California's metros need creative design, flexible zoning and innovation in housing. Nimby's (NOPIDO's) and the political pressure they put of local government prevent this progress. What will California look like in 2050, 2100, 2150?
One of these days renters/developers/lot owners will band together and their voice/political pressure will equal or supersede the NIMBY's (NOPIDO's).
The cost burden is building in these groups and this opposition is forming. The solution is working towards gaining greater private property rights, and flexibility in development. This in turn benefits all that hold private property. Maybe 2017 is the year.
Hopefully this is followed by unified pressure on government to be more efficient in investing in the new/future population base. A goal for 2018?
The problem with new housing or any large development is that while the city or county gets money, the residents only get the headaches. Does new housing give me less traffic, more teachers in the classroom, cleaner sidewalks and parks, lower water and sewer rates, lower property taxes; nope nothing. The problem with new development is that the current residents are forced to shoulder the burden of the growing pains without any of the benefits of growth.
I bet if residents received a property tax rebate because now the city or county has more property tax, you may be surprised how many people would want new homes. Maybe if additional teachers were funded to reduce school class room size then you might get people on developments side, but instead we get told that maybe someday your property will be worth more, but guess what my property will be worth more without new houses.
If a city or the county wants new development, then some of the benefits need to be shared with the current residents in order to offset the burden. How many streets are filled with pot holes or sidewalks are buckled and cracked or public schools that have 30 kids to a class and not just some nonsense open space walking trails that are only there because the developer can't stick an extra house there and is really only accessible from the development it self.
Development occurs on private property. Development does not occur on communal property. That distinction needs to be made clear. Public property is designated to serve the community. As a member of a community you should exercise your rights, opinion, and power regarding the development and use of public infrastructure, but when you begin to attempt to control private property that is a different matter. It is not yours unless you hold the deed.
New tax revenue from development goes towards public services, to develop public infrastructure to service the additional burden created from the new occupant. If the city fails to use this additional tax revenue wisely, that is not the new owners fault.
Old residents have no "extra rights" that new residents do not. New residents do not need to pay fealty to older residents. Development creates investment, jobs, businesses and customers. It adds to the local economy. This is the benefit to older residents, and older business owners in the area. New housing creates additional revenue that assists in paying for new sidewalks, new roads, new teachers, and park maintenance.
Taxes are collected from new residents to assist in the new burden that they create on public systems. If that burden is too great for existing systems, investment in public infrastructure is needed. This spending in turn stimulates the local economy and benefits current residents and businesses. Traffic sucks, but we live in a county with millions of people. With proper funding and infrastructure development, it should be addressed in time. If schools are overburdened investment is needed to expand the facility or hire faculty.
Much of your complaints regarding development are the not the private aspects of development, rather the failure of the public government to invest in the larger population base. Most citizens share this view, government is extremely inefficient, but don't blame new residents for people in the public sectors failure.
Dense areas have greater revenue to spend on public services, and infrastructure. Dense areas also come with more people. Look into the population estimates for the future of our area. What is your solution, to steal Trumps plan to build a wall?
What everyone who commented before mine have suggested (maybe minus 1 or 2), is that Measure B was a poor example of what this article suggest from the title. I agree. Development for housing should never be on a ballot to begin with. It should be resolved with our elected officials as this article and numerous others I have read say. Instead of out right rejecting a plan, these should be commented on what needs to be done to accept it. That way, if a developer decides that this will not work or it is not in their interests, then nobody can say they did not try. Instead they leave it to the voters (many of whom have no sense of development, and those that do, don't see the full picture (who honestly can unless it is your project).
Are these developers greedy? Sure some are, some aren't. Is this all Nimby's? No, but again for some, it is exactly that.
What is surprising is almost none had anything to say on Measure T. Which was pointed out to approve the land use to increase density in Encinitas. This measure was in response to a 'State' mandate for all CA cities to update their plan to do their part in housing developments especially on the affordable side. The voters rejected it. Why, probably because it was suspect and many believed that it would not actually produce this affordable housing.
Personally I think affordable housing is a bad approach. What does work all the time is supply and demand. When more supply is introduced than the demand that is required, things stay on the market longer if there is no motivation to buy something over something better valued. This leads to price drops, and over more time, more price drops. Mix this with a mixing bowl of various types of available housing options (big, medium, small, single family, town homes, apt, condos, ect) and you have a recipe for keeping home price increases at tolerable increases so long as supply and demand are closely in a balanced market. Too much supply, hurts the sellers and landlord (just look at the commercial property sector), too much demand, hurts buyers and renters. Now add to it the problem of shorter than normal supply and this number is compounded. So in short, more market rate units are needed to balance the market, and not xx percentage of units made need to be affordable. You will be forever chasing the rabbit that way.
They key take away is only 4,000 to 6,000 (if that) unit are made annually in a place that needs 12,000 or so to even come close to your general plan. I am sorry, but saying you are meeting this plan by shoving all of development in downtown, and in city centers in other cities in the county do not cut it. Also building mini mansions on the few land parcels that people do not oppose being built on do not help the problem. What is wrong with 1100-1900 square foot 3 Bedroom Homes with average lots and common community parks? Build those in clusters, Center it all with a commercial area to access and ways to easily access other parts of the city without clogging the existing road network.
Just as many of you claim developers are greedy, existing home owners are greedy too. They see their property values rise well over what they pay for it and they do what they can to keep it up there and keep pushing it higher. The only way this happens, is if demand remains high, and supply remains low (unbalanced market). When did this notion of owning a home become an entitlement that only you, who got in at the right time are only able to enjoy? It is a matter of time before this problem will turn sides. It is just a matter of when.
Keep in mind that your "current" regulations take a developer between 3 to 7 years to get a project from the idea of their mind to the date the city gives them an occupancy permit. There is something wrong with that. Some of these projects could take 2 years to build or less very easily. Developers anywhere else in the US and world can build better and faster (and for less overall costs) than CA and many places have stricter enforcement of codes and regulations than CA does and CA has its own building Code!!
Development Regulations need to be reformed to make it far easier. This in combination with labor regulations as construction cost and overhead are way too high. No wonder why we can't afford state projects on the roads. Have any of you seen the per hour rates the regulations require to be paid out? It is a project managers worst nightmare to manage the hours on a prevailing wage job. This again is why this also needs to be all be reformed.
Did any of you know that some Residential Buildings are partially government funded? Did you also know that this ends up requiring that prevailing wage or project specific labor agreements? Everything has a cause and affect. Don't even get me started on the affect minimum wage has on all of this. While people deserve raises in general, there has to be a line, and CA has crossed it.....
The headline is very strange. The body of the article seems to be in the format of an "opposing views" article. The body of the article is essentially repeating the opinions of two different people. The headline seems to annoy readers, and rightly so. When I first started reading I wasn't sure if this was news or if it was an opinion piece. It looks like more of an interview of two people with opposing viewpoints which is fine. The title just doesn't appear to be a very good lead into the article. If it had been written in a more neutral way, I think that some commenters might have reacted differently.
"“It’s not surprising to me that people vote no,” London said. “But it’s really unfair to the electorate to ask them to participate in the litigation of these issues. That’s why we have elected representatives for us. They’re not necessarily smarter than the people, but their job is to spend time and attention in weighing the various push, pull. This is an abdication of responsibility to take on a tricky issue.”
I think that London hit the head on the nail with those thoughts. I happen to agree with her, but the body of the article was not bad at all. It was just an effort to air out to different opinions. The title is the main problem because it implies that one of the opinions is correct. It reads as though the author of the article is taking sides which seems like the wrong thing to be doing. Now I didn't see anything in the body of the article that confirmed that the writer is siding with one commentator or the other. A different head-line would have made a huge difference.
This is clearly an Opinion piece, not a news story. Even so, any good commentary is fact based. Having served on community planning boards for two decades, I have participated in scores of land use planning processes, good and bad. With very few exceptions, the good ones have resulted in improved plans where most stake-holders made out for the best. These include the 13-year painfully difficult public process that produced the updated County General Plan and the 2 year process that produced the landmark 1998 ballot measure that created Pacific Highlands Ranch in Carmel Valley while preserving thousands of acres of open space. Tarring people wanting to protect those plans as "NIMBY" is simply not fair. It's also not fair to property owners and developers who followed the rules to allow violation of these plans for the benefit of one developer. There will be more of these attempts to work around voters and influence decision makers to come, thanks in part to sympathetic reporters who cherry pick facts to support a pro-development narrative.
@Lisa Ross Well if elected officials nipped these issues during planning commissions when developers brought these projects to the table and offered actual solutions and stopped deferring the action to voters in the first place, I think it would of sent a clear message.
I get why Measure B was created. While I don't agree they should of attempted the method as they should of known more people would say no to it than yes, I ultimately blame this for not being resolved during the talks with the commission and board of supervisors.
The writer of this article completely ignores that residents of Carmel Valley were open to development *within the community plan* and the same is true of residents of Valley Center.
Valley Center opposition to Lilac Hills Ranch was based primarily on the developer's refusal to comply with the Valley Center Community Plan as well as with the County General Plan.
Valley Center does not oppose all new housing as is obvious to anyone who reads their Community Plan. The community opposed a massive leap-frog development in an area that is entirely inappropriate for any development at the scale proposed by the developer.
I think your reporter has drawn an incorrect conclusion, based on talking with development representatives. The Lilac Ranch Project proposal was put forward in clear violation of the County's own updated General Plan. The developer knew that when he drew it up, banking on being able to bribe the County Supervisors to ignore the GP with "campaign contributions". When it became clear that his primary ally on the board, Bill Horn, would not be able to cast a deciding vote, he decided to try to bypass the county land use planning process altogether via the ballot, and spend millions of dollars in a losing effort, The vote by the people was not a vote for Nimbyism, it was a vote to enforce the General Plan. Most of the failed development projects that make the news are similar attempts to do an end around local community plans, in violation of city or county zoning standards. Development which are built in compliance with general plans and community plans typically don't get covered by the press, because they go smoothly. VOSD needs to make sure it doesn't become a developers shill, by doing its homework before arriving at conclusions.
Measure A failed because SANDAG has lost all credibility with the voters. The SANDAG board kept focusing on adding and expanding local freeways when the citizens had made it clear they wanted more Transnet money spent improving and expanding the regional transit system. SANDAG also put forward false arguments about how much money the tax increase would produce and hasn't even built all the projects it promised to build when voters approved the last Transnet tax extension. Until SANDAG builds more trust with the voters, not tax increases will pass on the ballot.
Two excellent & detailed explanations of why both county-wide measures failed. It's simplistic to ascribe the failures to county-wide opposition to new housing or new taxes.
It's not true that NIMBY-ism rules. Yes, there are NIMBYs everywhere but not at the scale it required to defeat the Lilac Hills Ranch measure. That measure was designed not only to do an end run around the thoroughly vetted General Plan that required many years and millions of dollars to reach consensus but to blast a hole through the General Plan to enable a number of other large projects which would not be in compliance with the current Plan.
It's also true that there are those who will also vote against any tax increase but I believe there are many who would support a reasonable tax increase intended to accomplish something that a majority of voters want. Prop. A failed for the reasons outlined by Don Wood. Props C & D failed because they were not intended for purposes that a majority of voters wanted. Prop. D, especially, was an egregious effort by extremely wealthy business interests (yes, football is a business whatever sports fans may think) to benefit at the expense of taxpayers, that is to use an increased hotel tax for their own benefit instead of for the benefit of all citizens of San Diego.
Sadly and too often, though, some elected officials do more to assist private business interests at the expense of the citizens at large.
RE: “Developers always lose"
Name a Developer that is not raking it in!
San Diego's Leaders are bending over backwards to enable Developers to profit, all in the name of creating "AFFORDABLE HOUSING" a term that does not relate to creating anything but more units, with the exception of a tiny fraction (<10%), that will be rented/leased for ever increasing amounts!
Want to fix that, then have the City require that 1/3 of ALL the units in new housing projects (over 3 units) must be rent restricted for 30 years so they will be available for Low and Low-Moderate income. wage earners!
The Lilac Hill Ranch was an attempt to undermine the County GP 2020. Let me remind you that the GP 2020 calls for INCREASED density in the Valley Center village cores and level or decreased density in outlying areas of the community. it is not fair to portray it as NIMBYism. Our community is accepting increased density to accommodate the county's projected future growth.
Elected officials should enforce the GP 2020 - not sponsor exceptions to the plan.
Also, the Lilac Ranch loss has little or nothing to do with NIMBY, the headline of the morning report. This is akin to having a headline that says "Greedy Corrupt Developers Lose One." Both are insulting, and the pejorative term NIMBY is too frequently thrown around as if it explains everything about complex issues.
This article is almost 100% devoid of logic. Using Lilac Hills to show that voters don't want any development is like offering a crowd of people rotten fish and then saying it proves they don't like fish. Homework: Start with the Voice articles and then expand to other media outlets. Better yet, go and drive the roads that thousands of people were supposed to commute on. Encinitas: This one is certainly less clear, but voters are mostly reacting to the fact that affordable housing laws are being used to skirt environmental regulations in order to build housing that is in no way affordable. Neither of these examples prove zip about voter beliefs regarding new housing.
@Janet Shelton Love your analogy to rotten fish!
Huh? Measure B was about a developer's attempts to build a poorly conceived urban island of some-1700 houses miles from jobs, schools, shopping and everything else, and to thoroughly trash the County's $18 Million plan for development and conservation. Although the PR strategy, as London and Lydon discuss, poured a few million bucks into re-branding the developer's scheme as a pro-housing/ pro-economy initiative, the voters could see through the murk to discern that Measure B was NOT about housing. It was about trashing the County General Plan so that the largest developers could continue the very sprawl development patterns that the "smart growth" public plan forbids.
Has VOSD really forgotten that the unincorporated County has planned more than 72,000 new homes in areas that are already designated for Village development -- where roads, water infrastructure, sewers have already been built with public and private money, and within easy reach of emergency services. Valley Center citizens invested many hundreds of hours to plan growth of our Village area, adding several thousand single and multi-family homes on flat land within walking distance of shopping and schools. All of these homes can be built to sell for very moderate prices.
We all hope that Kristin Gaspar will weigh the will of the people against developer campaign contributions, and vote to uphold the County General Plan and the people she represents.
OK, so I get to this story by way of an email summarizing the story with the headline "NIMBYs triumph..." 64% of County voters voted no on Measure B, so basically VOSD calls 64% of its potential readers NIMBYs. And then I scroll down slightly and see a donation appeal!
You might not want to call you potential donors NIMBYs right before asking for a donation. Just sayin'.
But on to the substance of the story. The lead is simply false: Seven miles away from the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development another developer is successfully working with the community and County officials on a large housing project. Much of the required infrastructure is already in place, and the development will provide the rest of what is needed.
Maya has allowed herself to be propagandized. Land is being bought up by investors who cannot get a decent return anywhere else in today's economy. So they make egregiously intensive land use demands to increase their return. When they sell the land to a developer, they are not only selling the land. They are selling it with "entitlements." These entitlements specify how dense the development can be. The denser the development, the higher the price the land commands. With Lilac Hills Ranch, and especially with with One Paseo before it, it is a raw crony capitalist political play for as much money as possible with no regard for the community.
There are a number of things contributing to the housing crisis, and NIMBYism simply is not one of them. When land owners/developers work within General and Community Plans and involve local planning groups from the beginning, projects move along without the din of controversy. The apartments being built along I-15 at Mira Mesa Blvd. are an example. At the national level, monetary policy which keeps interests rate around zero is what pushes investors into communities making egregious entitlement demands. That same monetary policy gooses the value of things like real estate, driving rents higher.
At the local level the solution is actually already in front of us. There are two kinds of developers in San Diego. One tries to maximize profit with no regard for the local community. The other works within the boundaries of public policy and collaborates with local planning groups. The solution is to follow the example of the latter and continue to reject the rent-seeking of the former.
The premise of this article appears to be heavily grounded in the Lilac Hills development rejection. Pretty ironic to me. VOSD lambasted this development in a wide variety of ways in myriad articles that would lead that average reader to believe that it was a very bad proposal. Roads too narrow. Lack of infrastructure. Lack of adequate public safety services, etc., etc. To spend so much time hammering the concept (for reasons that seemed to me quite legitimate) and then to conclude that rejection of this project means that voters are opposed to all development seems to me an absurd construct. Moreover, to conclude that a decision (that may be unlawful) in the City of Encinitas is illustrative of how things might be done in, for example, the City of San Diego, seems to me a big stretch. Good for clicks though I guess.
@Chris Brewster Ha! Here I thought I was making an informed decision based significantly on VoSD reporting. My particular beef was that allowing special passes via ballot to individual developers is a sure-fire method of ensuring that the conventional permitting process never gets fixed. And I live far enough away from both the A and T developments that they have zero direct impact on me.
And then VoSD turns around, calls me a NIMBY, claims I've undermined affordable housing, and starts quoting poor developers who "always lose."
It's a bit rich.
The assumption that citizens want increased housing to accommodate an ever increasing population is just that.
Many of us think that the region is too crowded already and because of that the quality of life is getting worse not better.
California voters support unaffordable environmental rules that prevent housing from being built. Then they decry greed and demand developers give away housing for less than it costs to construct and get the permits. A problem with this political strategy is that more taxpayers are needed to pay the pensions, but there aren't enough new places for people to live.
Lumping Measure B into this discussion does a disservice to the fine reporting VOSD previously did on this issue.
It's far more complicated than a general public desire to avoid new housing development. At odds in Measure B and many other projects are developers' desire to maximize profits versus existing zoning or community plans.
That topic deserved more focus in this article.