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Increasing the fee for big developers isn’t a cure-all.
There’s no simple solution for San Diego’s housing shortage.
Increasing a fee for big developers to help subsidize low-income housing was the most recent move by city leadership to fill the void. The Housing Commission cheered the City Council’s approval of the increase earlier this month, but the numbers show that the money to be collected through the affordable housing fee will only help a few of the tens of thousands of San Diego families in need.
So what do we do? Some of you offered alternatives; others voiced outrage that such a fee (tax?) exists in the first place. A popular objection to the fee is that increasing it could drive away business. Former Mayor Jerry Sanders’ go-to land-use guy said as much about Soitec, a major solar manufacturing company.
Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis got in touch with a spokeswoman for the French company and found that, no, it would have set up shop in Rancho Bernardo regardless of the fee hike.
“Would it have been a determining factor? Probably not because of such a strong allegiance Soitec had to San Diego,” said Karen Hutchens, a local public relations professional who represents the company.
I clarified to be sure. She was saying Waring was wrong.
“Yes, he is,” she said.
Tough to say whether that example will be enough to sway staunch critics of the fee, let alone get them on board with the increase.
We have more than a few such opponents in our readership. Check out how they, along with supporters of the increase, reacted to both stories. (Note: Comments have been lightly edited for style and clarity.)
“I think it’s disingenuous to criticize the linkage fee hike for being too large but accomplishing too little … By its own terms, it was to be reviewed and adjusted annually. Only by failing to do what was required to make it effective, can some view it now as too little too late.” – Catherine Rodman
“You can’t undo basic economics, someone will profit off low-income housing, and it won’t be the burger-flippers.” – Jim Jones
“How is this NOT a tax?” – Edward Teyssier
“It’s expensive for EVERYONE to live here. Why should ANYONE be forced to subsidize the choices of another?” – Mike Delahunt
“If we don’t approach this as a community, due partly to rhetoric about taxes, we may end up keeping taxes down, but watching our aggregate cost of living escalate. Where is the ultimate savings for the taxpayer and for business in that strategy?” – Chris Brewster
” … it is likely that there are a lot of people on the (wait) list that aren’t really eligible.” – Eric Busboom
(In response to Busboom:) “If you imagine that there’s a statistically significant number of economically comfortable people sitting around San Diego applying for affordable housing just for kicks, we should probably start by addressing that bizarre phenomenon before delving into the details of housing policy.” – Lucas O’Connor
“Not only should we NOT be taxing people trying to create new jobs – we should recognize that nearly NONE of our competitor regions trying to build jobs is adopting a tax structure like this – meaning that we are creating a disincentive to invest in San Diego.” – Andrew Poat
“Nothing’s free. But affordable means affordable for working San Diegans.” – Pamela Sherman-Keel, commenting on Facebook