San Diego’s housing crisis: Mayor promotes system overhaul to build more housing

SAN DIEGO (KUSI)- Like many big cities in California, San Diego is struggling with a severe housing shortage. In his”State of the City” speech on Tuesday night, Mayor Kevin Faulconer outlined his plans to spur the development of more housing.

“I want to radically overhaul the system itself,” Faulconer said.

In his address, the mayor presented a host of proposals. He called for eliminating height restrictions except in the coastal areas, to allow developers to build projects with more units.

Another proposal would remove parking requirements for properties located near bus and transit routes. Mayor Faulconer also suggested giving developers permission to build bigger projects with unlimited density as long as there are units set aside for homeless or low income housing.

The head of the industry group that represents San Diego developers said the mayor’s ideas may help ease the shortage, but in a city where the housing deficit is so deep, these measures may not be enough.

Borre Winckel, the president and CEO of the Building Industry Association said excessive state and local regulations have imposed prohibitive costs on developers, making it too expensive to build.

“Our regulations make up nearly one half of the total construction cost of the unit. California, has in essence, destroyed middle income housing by its zeal to regulate and regulate and put in more impact fees, thereby restricting the opportunity to build,” Winckel said.

The mayor also vowed to increase the number of affordable housing units in San Diego.

Ken Sauder, the president and CEO of Wakeland Housing, which has developed dozens of affordable housing projects in Southern California said the biggest obstacle is finding the money to build them.

“If we really want to tackle the problem in a real big way, we’re going to need to bring in more resources, especially locally,” Sauder said.

The mayor wants to make it easier for more projects to be green-lighted, without facing roadblocks from local planning groups. Even if housing developments do not need local approval, Sauder said developers will still need to meet with neighbors to help separate facts from fears.

“What we would do is we’ll sit down and talk with the neighbors anyway and hear their concerns and try to address them and go from there,” Sauder said.

According to estimates from the Building Industry Association, the city needs to build a minimum of 12,000 housing units every year to meet the current demand. At present, San Diego is building less than half of that total.

If the city doesn’t build more housing, Winckle had this forecast, “Unless we pay attention, we’ll be a city dominated by old folks.It will be a city that will ‘gray out’, a city that has sent away our young, our productive, our millennials, who on account of high housing costs say, ‘Adios, San Diego’.”

Categories: Local San Diego News, Politics