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San Diego Mayor Proposes Incentives To Create More Housing Affordability

Pictured while under construction is Atmosphere, a $79.3M, 205-unit affordable housing project in downtown that opened earlier this month.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer presented a package of proposed incentives Wednesday to encourage developers to build more housing units and called for expanding the affordable housing density bonus to workforce housing projects for families earning up to 150% of area medium income, or $110K annually for a family of four, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

These proposals make good on the mayor’s promise in his January State of the City address to prioritize housing affordability in San Diego.

Faulconer is proposing streamlining the approval process to fast-track environmentally sustainable projects, lowering parking requirements in areas with transit access, loosening regulations against business owners living in their workplaces and putting granny flats in single-family homes — a proposal already approved by the city’s planning commission.

He also proposed reducing developer impact fees for parks and other public services by calculating fees on square footage or number of bedrooms, rather than number of units. The mayor's plan also would modernize how a project’s effect on traffic congestion is calculated and make it easier for private developers to lower construction costs by using city-funded environmental impact studies.

The housing affordability gap in San Diego is among the highest in California, with the average household spending 35% of its income on housing, and one-fourth of the population spending half of their income on rent. Studies show 70% of residents cannot afford to buy a median-priced home. The median rent and housing price in San Diego rose in 2016, while the average household income declined 4.7%, from $70,639 in 2007 to just $67,320, the U.S. census reports.

The average rent has hit a record high of $1,743, reports MarketPointe Realty Advisors, and the average home price is now $589,260, which requires $114K in income annually to qualify for a mortgage, according to the California Association of Realtors. A San Diego working family earning the median household income can afford to pay $1,500/month in rent or buy a home priced at $225K.

The mayor’s proposals will be considered by the planning commission before going before the city council for final approval.