We have a crisis in San Diego. The city’s thousands of homeless know this, the thousands of families on the brink of homelessness know this, and the thousands of residents faced with rising rents know this.

CommentaryWe need bold action to address this crisis.

From day one, my office has been working to address this issue. Actively seeking solutions to address the housing affordability and homelessness crisis are top priorities of my office.

Data shows that income and wages are not keeping pace with the rising costs of housing. Federal resources for programs, such as Section 8, do not match the continually growing demand. Development barriers exist in many communities, including permit processing times, outdated community plans and conflicting community priorities. Low housing vacancy rates are contributing to a competitive housing market, raising rents and hindering future growth. The bottom line is that we are not building enough homes for our workforce.

Countywide, median rents have increased 36 percent since 2000, yet median renter income has only increased by 4 percent. Our lowest-income renters are spending 69 percent of their income on rent, leaving very little left for food, transportation, health care and other necessary expenses.

With such a high cost of living, families who work in low-wage jobs and seniors on fixed incomes are particularly at risk of becoming homeless. Many residents are one paycheck away from living on the street.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

One of the factors contributing to the increased housing costs is the shortfall of affordable rental homes. Our city needs over 35,000 affordable homes to meet the needs of our lowest-income residents, yet we are lagging behind in the number of units actually being produced.

As we struggle to facilitate the development of sufficient housing, the city needs to consider a variety of innovative short- and long-term measures to develop new housing units, with a focus on affordable and workforce housing.

Due to this ever growing crisis, I am proposing a plan that will get more units built, help people stay in their homes and increase the range of housing options – especially for those experiencing homelessness or who are on the brink of homelessness.

My plan proposes solutions to provide housing for those most in need by:

• Increasing the affordable and middle-income housing stock within the city of San Diego

• Preserving existing affordable housing

• Providing innovative housing solutions for the homeless

• Identifying public lands for housing opportunities

• Creating statewide floor-area ratio incentives in transit priority areas

• Seeking grant opportunities for new housing development

• Developing an affordable housing measure for the November 2018 ballot

On Monday, Mayor Kevin Faulconer presented his housing plan, as well as a number of other measures related to development permits. I support the measures outlined in his plan and believe they are vital tools to reduce the permit processing times. These measures are not enough, however, to catalyze the development of sufficient new housing – especially affordable and workforce housing – to really uplift those who need the most help.

My plan provides innovative solutions such as reducing development costs for affordable housing and companion units; increasing developers’ fair share of affordable housing; evaluating public land to determine its feasibility for transit-oriented affordable development; eliminating the need to build larger and ultimately more expensive units along our transit lines and working with all of our partners to bring forward a housing revenue ballot measure that works for all San Diegans.

We need to identify all available opportunities to improve housing affordability in the city.

Now is the time to bring all stakeholders together to create a solution. We must have an open conversation about how to deploy our limited resources to create transformative change in our housing landscape, driven by our common interest in making San Diego a better place to live, work and play, but more importantly lift up people’s lives by providing a healthier place to live.

I will present my plan at the July 26 Smart Growth and Land Use Committee meeting and hope that what I am bringing forth helps push the city forward to begin addressing this crisis.

Georgette Gómez is a member of the San Diego City Council representing District 9. Gómez’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

    This article relates to: Growth and Housing, Housing, Opinion

    Written by Opinion

    Op-eds and Letters to the Editor on the issues that matter in San Diego. Have something to say? Submit a commentary.

    5 comments
    JP de Kervor
    JP de Kervor

    What Plan?  How about we get rid of plan checkers and certify Architects and engineers, who are actually responsible and can be sued.  Plan checkers take time to review plans, cost money and have no responsibility if your house falls down, but the engineer and architect do.  Inspections are important, but I have found that Plan Checkers do not add any value, and we could reduce city pay rolls.  

    Molly Cook
    Molly Cook

    This is not a plan...it's a pipe dream...Easy enough to list all these worthy ideas, but the devil and sometimes the angel is in the details.  Where are the details.  It's not WHAT, but HOW and WHO and BY WHEN.  I worked too long helping organizations achieve their goals with specifics to buy anything as la-di-da and pie in the sky as this.  Actually, Ms. Gomez, you want what everybody working on homelessness wants.  So let's see how it's going to happen.  Who, specifically, will make it happen and what's the date for it to be accomplished.


    Oh, and what will be the penalties when that doesn't happen. 


    San Diego is so full of talk, it's a surprise that there's any energy left for the "leaders" to drink wine and sit by the pool. 

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    Remarkably void of specifics. When The plan arrives we can expect more heavy govt social engineering. Politicians seem oblivious to how we got here. Govt policies have made developing housing increasing difficult and expensive. This makes it more vitally to build so developers build less and when they do build they need to build more extensive houses to attempt to recover their investment.

    Here's ideas that would help and cost no money!

    Provide a waiver to all developers to build residential in commercial zones.

    Let developers build whatever size homes they desire, big or small.

    Allow developers to convert office buildings to residential without development fees.

    Suspend expensive regulations like requiring parking. It's the Uber era!

    The above would have a dramatic on the supply. Give people incentive and path to make a profit and they'll respond.

    The free market will provide products people need of allowed to operate. It happens everyday all around us with life essentials like food. For some wacky reason people valued politicians should oversee housing.

    Nik Nak
    Nik Nak

    I am I missing something? What's the plan proposed? Does she want the gov build the housing? The outline left me unsure of what she's actually thinking will help.

    I know living along public transportation lines makes transportation easier for folks without a lot of disposiable income. However, I sensed dig at housing projects along trolley lines targeting middle and higher income households. If she's thinking that expensive housing doesn't belong on the trolley line then she the plan is doing a disservice to the MTS which needs more economic diversity in their ridership to expand. A better MTS will make a better commute and also help us with some of the environmental goals.

    Sean M
    Sean M subscriber

    "....increasing developers’ fair share of affordable housing..." Watch your wallet when politicians use the euphemism, 'fair share.' Development restrictions created today's housing shortage misery, doubling down on those restrictions lead to higher costs for everyone. The most insidious aspect of affordable housing trap is the opportunity cost it associates with income gains: get a raise and get thrown out of your home because of the income cap.