Funding for affordable housing is looking rather bleak these days.
The end of redevelopment in early 2011 meant the end of affordable housing’s most significant funding source and subsequent attempts to make up for it have floundered or failed. Most recently, a bill written by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins that would have added a small fee to real estate transfers stalled, and another bill to boost the tax credit developers can claim when they build affordable housing was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
It’s in this uncertain era that Stephen Russell takes the helm of the San Diego Housing Federation — a coalition of affordable housing developers and related organizations — which announced him as its new executive director on Dec. 10.
Russell’s been involved in San Diego’s affordable housing scene for over a decade, including five years as the board president of the City Heights Community Development Corp. In 2002, as a staffer for then-Councilwoman Atkins, he played a significant role in organizing Housing Day, a first-of-its-kind, mega council meeting that launched a number of affordable housing initiatives.
In 2005, he left Atkins’ office to get his degree in architecture, inspired largely by his work on Metro Villas, a multifamily, mixed-use project in City Heights. For six months in 2002, Russell led a bi-weekly working group to help wrangle every possible source of funding to get the project built. Now, with its family friendly layout, community center and proximity to public transportation and schools, it’s lauded as one of San Diego’s best examples of affordable housing.
I met up with Russell earlier this month to talk about his vision not just for the Housing Federation but also for increasing San Diego’s supply of affordable housing. He suggested we do the interview at Metro Villas, which he says is one of his favorite places in San Diego.
Support Independent Journalism Today
Welcome to Steven Russell
At least he has been around the block having cut his teeth in North Park and its Redevelopment Project Area Comm. (NP-PAC).
RE: "people are screaming to get into North Park, they’re screaming to get into Little Italy"
Ha Ha Ha People are also screaming to get into Rancho Santa Fe and the beach Area of La Jolla but somehow all those peoples wishes don't ever come to pass.
As one that helped get the NP Parking Garage built, I’m sorry to say that we did not build several of them spread around NP. If we had, we would now have the capacity to allow all those that choose to drive (instead of walk or bike for many reasons like time of day, carrying capacity, age, ability and personal safety) places to park without choking our residential streets so that those that live nearby to businesses don’t have to have their streets turned into business parking lots with the increase in crime, late night noise and all the other Business Blight that is now occurring.
Designing (NEW) neighborhoods without much if any parking for the healthy agile 30 something crowd may be great for the business owners of bars and clubs but it is not great for all those that want to improve their quality of life living in the homes they bought that are within walking distance to business districts.
I can understand that many would love to live in NP (many have lived there for 30 years or more) but I’d love to live in La Jolla on the beach/coast but I don’t see anybody building any housing for me there, so why should I encourage ever more Density to be built in NP, since I already was successful in getting so much Low and Low-Mod housing built in NP already!
At some point enough is enough, and I believe that until the rest of SD gets it fair share of Low and Low-Mod housing built, NP should not build any more, just to satisfy Developers that want to make money building in-fill housing.
Let them Develop someplace else for the next 10 to 15 years or people seeking Low and Low-Mod housing can find equal numbers of housing units in EVERY PART OF SAN DIEGO, not just in Mid-City.
Save North Park from being over built!
I am opposed to DENSITY, especially along 30th Street between Upas and North Park Way. Some parts of North Park need to remain as they are now and not get built out as much as along El Cajon Blvd.
That is why I’m pushing for a NP Conservation District for the area between North Park Way on the North, Ray St. on the East, Upas Street on the South and 28th Street on the West. South Park would be wise to also designate a similar area, so that they do not get slammed by additional DENSITY.
This and other parts of North Park & South Park are special areas that still reflect the character of Greater North Park in the late 1920’s and they should not get condo-ized just because Developers want to develop every housing lot they can.
Save NP's Bungalow Conservation District for the next 30 years, before it is too late...
@Founder "As one that helped get the NP Parking Garage built, I’m sorry to say that we did not build several of them spread around NP."
Wouldn't that have increased automobile traffic in North Park?
"If we had, we would now have the capacity to allow all those that choose to drive...places to park without choking our residential streets..."
Are you saying that the parking garages get completely full? If so, then why are the parking rates set below market equilibrium? Doesn't it kill businesses when those whose time is worth the most or don't expect to get everything (such as parking) for free, have to either spend more of their time looking for a place to park or take their business elsewhere?
"...so that those that live nearby to businesses don’t have to have their streets turned into business parking lots with the increase in crime..."
That's a good point about how parking areas turn into crime magnets after dark. So it's a doubly good thing that more parking garages didn't get built in North Park. Meanwhile, those who live on the nearby streets are free to make it parking by permit only if they want to. Does the city give them a cut of the revenue?
So don't feel bad that you weren't able to get more parking garages built. North Park is a much better place without them. Even the business owners don't think they're worth the cost, or they would have built them with their own money.
Re: Wouldn't that have increased automobile traffic in North Park?
No, we would have had much less traffic in the residential neighborhoods, since business traffic would stay near the businesses.
Re: parking garages get completely full
It is nearing capacity and now generating a profit after expenses, plus it will only do much better in the future.
ALSO, if the City had done a better DESIGN, it could have had an urban park on the roof, which would have added much need park/open space in NP.
Re: make it parking by permit only if they want to. Does the city give them a cut of the revenue?
No, the City is doing everything it can to make permit only parking a NO-GO (Residents would have to pay big bucks for their permits) because then where would business traffic park?
Re: So it's a doubly good thing that more parking garages didn't get built in North Park.
There is little if any crime near/inside the parking garage because it has Security and Cameras.
Also the business's want it all their way (most don't even validate for their employees or their customers) and then expect everyone living nearby to 'shop locally."
Re: they would have built them with their own money...
You are dreaming to think that, since 99% of business owners only rent/lease and NPMS is not interested in "developing" additional parking unless it is on residential streets, which they are only too happy to change from parallel to angled or better yet (for them) head in parking, which changes the quality of life for the residents that are already having their streets packed (at almost all hours of the day) with even more cars.
Residents without off street parking dare not leave their space (or have visitors over ) because there is no parking, which was not the case only 4 years ago, before the Bar/Club BOOM in NP.
@Founder "Q: Wouldn't [building more parking garages] have increased automobile traffic in North Park? A: No, we would have had much less traffic in the residential neighborhoods..."
You dodged the question. The answer is yes, more parking garages would have increased traffic in North Park, because of something called "induced demand."
"[The parking garage] is nearing capacity and now generating a profit after expenses..."
If it were truly making a profit, the market would have built it even without public funding. No, you're ignoring property taxes, amortization on the loan (if any), and the opportunity cost of capital when you claim that it's making a profit. That's why the market didn't build it--it just doesn't make financial sense, even with the business traffic it would bring. Especially now that they know taxpayers will build one for them for free!
"No, the City is doing everything it can to make permit only parking a NO-GO (Residents would have to pay big bucks for their permits) because then where would business traffic park?"
In the parking garages that the market would have built had you not created a parking subsidy for North Park businesses and had the city allowed permit parking in the nearby neighborhoods, of course. Those business owners must love you now for all the taxpayer dollars you gave them.
"99% of business owners only rent/lease and NPMS is not interested in 'developing' additional parking unless it is on residential streets"
Which further proves my point that business owners don't think parking garages are worth the cost.
@David Crossley By pretending I asked about neighborhood traffic, then answering that question rather than the one I asked.
@David Crossley Then why will they come?
@Derek Hofmann @David Crossley --Perhaps that question should be asked to all of the planners of the city and county, who expect the county population to grow by another 700,000 or so by 2020 (those numbers may be suspect, but the population will still rise). And even more are expected by 2030. Why will they come? I don't know. Maybe you should ask them as they arrive.
@David Crossley You're saying they will come even if San Diego can't handle them. Are they going to live on the streets?
The "predictions" will only come true if we keep building to accommodate the predictions. So they are self-fulfilling, a self-reinforcing cycle. Planners love these predictions because it gives them something to do, and developers love them because it makes them a lot of money. But the predictions are only true if we allow them to be, like loosening your belt because you think you're going to eat more.
@Kathy S I believe that they now own or control over 60 acres of City Heights which makes the money they spent on the Metro Center and related buildings nothing but a great investment for a mega rental "project."
According to City Council Policy 600-13, the former Redevelopment Agency (RDA) 20% set-aside for Affordable Housing controlled by CCDC/Civic San Diego was to go into the San Diego Housing Commission's (SDHC) Housing Trust Fund (HTF). All $286 million in former RDA Housing Funds assets are now in a Special Revenue Fund within the City of San Diego called the Low Moderate Income Housing Asset Fund (LMIHAF) still controlled by Civic San Diego under their separate Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP). This Cash has been available for Affordable Housing since May 2013. Civic San Diego's plan is to wait 4 to 5 years until FY-2018 to spend the available cash for Affordable Housing. On January 2, 2016, @ $11to $13 million of this Cash Reserves siting in the bank will be used to pay off old 1995-2010 Bond Debt Payments, due to the failure to spend and/or encumber cash Reserves. If all cash reserves are used first then the Bond Debt could be paid using the annual $186 million in new Redevelopment Property Tax Trust Fund (RPTTF) Revenue. Redevelopment may have ended in 2011, but the annual RPTTF Cash is still coming in separate from regular Property Taxes.
According to the City of San Diego Fiscal Year FY-2015 CAFR, the LMIHAF Special Revenue Fund took in $21.7 million in New Revenue with an additional $5.8 million in new Low-Income Housing Lease Revenue for a total of $27.5 million in new Revenue available for Affordable Housing created this last year. See FY-2015 CAFR report Pages 174, 175, 223, and 225.
The end of redevelopment in early 2011, is still producing an annual $27.5 million in Revenue for affordable housing in the LMIHAF Special Revenue Fund Balance through the use of LMIHAF assets including Lease Revenue payments, mortgage payments, multi-year agreements, etc.
Please investigate why Mayor Faulconer, the City Council, and Civic San Diego are waiting 4-5 years to spend these LMIHAF Affordable Housing cash funds identified in the FY-2015 CAFR, when there is such a great immediate need.
@La Playa Heritage They also never paid off the debts owned to many in North Park that had contractual agreements with the Redevelopment Agency that got caught when the City took over the Redevelopment Agency.
The money continues to come in but the City Of SD is not talking about where it is going, what is being done with the interest or who controls the funds.