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County approves strategy for backcountry housing

Posted at 4:56 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 20:30:13-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A new series of strategies aims to bring housing to unincorporated areas while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

County Supervisor Joel Anderson says he sees San Diego's housing crunch all over.

"I'm at that age now where everyone's visiting their grand kids in another state, and when people can build in Temecula and Wildomar and all these areas in Riverside County and they're commuting to work here, we've failed," he said Wednesday.

So it seems a natural fit to build more of that much-needed housing in the county's unincorporated back country. But there's also the need to tackle climate change, and a 2013 state law aims to do that by incentivizing housing in urban areas, close to transit.

For developments in the rural backcountry, it poses an issue. Under the law, local governments must begin analyzing projects by the miles residents will drive to their central destinations, and the number of trips it will take. If housing projects are too far away, developers could be required to compensate, including through fees.

On Wednesday, the county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed to approve a series of strategies to figure out how to balance both.

"The opportunity in front of us to accept is that we have to tackle climate change and build housing and look for the most legally viable way," said chair Nathan Fletcher, a democrat who made the motion that was ultimately approved. (Anderson, a Republican, voted no).

The board's action exempted affordable housing complexes and more than 4,000 housing units outside of urban areas from the requirements, and took into account air quality and emissions goals.

A county report says it costs $10,000 to $19,000 dollars to mitigate each mile, but county staff will study how that would translate to actual fees. A report on next steps could come within 120 days.