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City Council allows churches to build housing in parking lots

Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 20:57:44-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — City council leaders unanimously approved a reform to allow local churches to build affordable housing in parking lots.

The plan will allow churches and other religious institutions to choose to build affordable housing units in their parking lots to utilize large areas of the property that may go typically unused during the majority of the week.

Previously, the institutions were required to offer a certain amount of parking spaces based on the location's capacity.

The approval is part of a series of housing reforms the city hopes spark new affordable housing opportunities. City leaders are optimistic the moves will increase local housing supply, attract new construction, and lower costs in the long run.

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“There are so many religious leaders who want to know what they can do as we face a statewide housing crisis that is putting the squeeze on working families,” Mayor Faulconer said in a release. “We have people in need and people who want to help so giving churches the opportunity to build affordable housing on underutilized parking lots makes all the sense in the world.”

The idea has been gaining steam since last Spring. The group UPLIFT San Diego led the effort dubbed YIGBY, or "Yes in God's Back Yard."

"There are 1,100 churches in San Diego County with over 3,000 acres of property," UPLIFT leader Tom Theisen told 10News in June. "If just 10 percent of those churches, 100 churches, were to build 20-30 units each, we're talking thousands of units of housing."

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Following Tuesday's announcement, pastor Gerald Brown echoed UPLIFT's sentiment.

“Churches in our community want to be a part of the solution when it comes to the housing crisis,” Brown said. “This important reform allows us to continue serving our communities in the best way possible, while providing the affordable housing that is so desperately needed.”

City leaders also changed municipal code to allow continuing care retirement communities in zones that currently allow multifamily housing and as a conditional use in single family residential zones.

The reforms also removed a requirement of an additional permit for multifamily residential developments that involves arranging to allow underground parking.