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Developers balk at affordable housing proposal at Solana Beach City Hall

Posted at 4:28 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 21:05:15-05

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) -- A city of Solana Beach plan to redevelop part of the City Hall parking lot into affordable housing didn't generate any interest from developers.

The city says not one builder responded to the request for proposals it issued last spring to build 19 affordable units on the City Hall property, which is across the street from its exclusive coastal bluffs.

Solana Beach Mayor David Zito said it's hard to pinpoint why no developers were interested since none applied.

"Projects that include affordable units can be more challenging to deal with due to potential local resistance," Zito said. "This provides an initial barrier that simply needs to be overcome. Developers would typically want the possibility of a greater return in order to take on additional risk and these types of projects typically provide less return."

Zito added another issue was the requirement to keep the public parking at City Hall, which raised costs.

Solana Beach, with a rent that averages more than $4,000 a month, currently has zero affordable housing units. The coastal city approved a 10-unit complex down the block from City Hall in 2014. It survived a lengthy legal challenge but still has not broken ground largely due to funding.

That has left many workers who have jobs in the city's restaurants, hotels and quaint shops to commute from far away, or to live in groups nearby.

"In my complex there's like four people living in a condo," said Mary Lou Bottino, who has lived in Solana Beach for more than 20 years.

Solana Beach is now turning its attention to its 117-space Distillery Parking lot across from Fletcher Cove. The City Council could vote Wednesday to send out a new request for proposals to turn that lot into a 20-unit complex.

This time, the city may not require the developer keep the public parking available, a staff report says.