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San Diego City Council passes controversial affordable housing plan

US construction spending tumbled in April
Posted at 3:49 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 21:22:43-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The San Diego City Council voted in favor Tuesday of an affordable housing plan which critics say could raise rents and home prices across San Diego.

The vote, which came after hours of public comment, was five to four in support of the proposal.

Council President Georgette Gomez moved to require developers to reserve 10 to 15 percent of new housing units in complexes for low to moderate income households.

The plan includes other options, but if all else fails the proposal would raise the affordable housing in-lieu fee developers pay by 72 percent.

For a typical 1,800 square foot unit, that would be an additional $16,000 in construction costs that could be passed on to tenants.

“We’re in a royal housing mess, and I almost would like to say, today, believe it or not, are the good old days for housing, because we’re staring straight into a bigger problem,” said Borre Winckel, who heads the San Diego Building Industry Association.

But supporters of the proposal say the city needs the housing. Many workers are now being forced to commute from far away because there is no housing available. A report last year found the region still needed more than 140,000.

"We’re certainly not trying to drive the cost of housing. Our number one goal here is to try to incentivize and regulate in a more fair manner the building of affordable housing,” said Keith Maddox, of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Councilman Scott Sherman, who opposes the proposal, said the larger fee would add $83 to a market rate rental and $17,000 to the price of a home. The money from the fee would go into a pot used to pay for affordable housing developments.

Marissa Tucker, a robotics marketing manager who lives in North Park, said her life success is only because she was able to grow up in an affordable home.

“My dad, he works at a grocery store,” she said. “My mom was never able to hold a stable job because she has a mental disability, and so without having affordable housing and be able to provide that stability, we’re not always afforded the same opportunities.”

Under the proposal, developers would also avoid the fee by rehabilitating existing units - or donate land that could be used for affordable housing.

On Tuesday, the council was hearing more than three hours of public comment, and both of the city’s overflow rooms were full.