by Robert Weichelt, The Independent Voter Network
The new Lilac Hills Ranch is a transformational community that might just move the San Diego region to a new path that embraces growth.
Last year, at the peak of San Diego County’s housing emergency, housing production actually dropped, according to new data. Demand for new housing was at an all-time high and our homeless crisis was making national headlines, but builders were unable to pull permits.
Home prices and rental rates continue to rise and San Diego remains in the midst of a shameful homelessness epidemic. Working families, seniors, college graduates and others have been pushed out because they can’t afford a home. The causes are so well known that by now they’re cliché: It is too difficult, too expensive and too time-consuming to build homes here. For too long, we’ve let the perfect be the enemy of the great, and we’ve let NIMBYs stand in the way of progress.
By Phillip Molnar, The San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego County communities approved slightly fewer homes last year despite increasing political pressure for more housing in California.
Cities and the county issued 4 percent fewer residential building permits in 2017 than the previous year, said the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California in a report released this week.
Overall building was down because of a reduction in apartment and condo construction, despite an increase in single-family home construction. The year started out with a major reduction in home building, but made up for it with an extremely busy fourth quarter.
Building permits for 9,580 new housing units were pulled in 2017. That’s down from 9,972 in 2016 and 9,975 in 2015. It’s up from a low during the Great Recession, when fewer than 3,000 homes were built in 2009.
By Sean Elo, Voice of San Diego
I know because I lived in the back of an SUV for one month during law school. From the Board of Supervisors to local school boards, every body of government must do what it can to increase the housing supply, boost wages and stabilize rents.
A little more than six years ago, my home was a 1994 Ford Explorer. I was a first-year student at California Western School of Law and life circumstances — and a lot of misguided pride — made the backseat of an SUV my best housing option.
My finals were particularly tough that semester. My scholarship, and my future as a law student, were in jeopardy. Fortunately, my student aid kicked in at the beginning of the next semester and I was able to get back on my feet. Two years later, I delivered the commencement address at my class graduation.
Compared to the challenges other San Diegans face right now, I was very, very lucky.
I had a car to climb into at the end of the day while so many others were forced to take shelter on the street. What I did not realize at the time was that my challenge of homelessness was not so unique. It was part of a sweeping crisis of student homelessness that has only gotten worse.
By Lisa Halverstadt, Voice of San Diego
State officials are poised to demand San Diego County build a lot more housing. Local leaders are already listing all the reasons it’ll be difficult.
State officials delivered San Diego leaders a tough message last week: You need to permit three times more housing countywide — or else.
Officials from cities across the county didn’t take it well.
At last week’s SANDAG board meeting, local officials got an update on the state’s latest estimate of how much housing production is needed in the coming years.
The early estimate says San Diego County cities will need to give the go-ahead to 171,685 new homes to meet state housing targets between 2021 and 2028. That would mean building more than 21,000 units countywide each year — nearly three times what the region has allowed over the past seven years.
The City Council Tuesday approved code changes in an attempt to encourage developers to build lower-cost and affordable housing units.
The vote was 7-1, with Councilman David Alvarez opposed. Councilwoman Barbara Bry recused herself but did not disclose why. There was no immediate response to a message left with Bry's office.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer submitted the changes in the form of amendments to the city's land development manual.
Faulconer said earlier that an overhaul would lower development costs and promote smart growth. The 46 updates to the Land Development Code will allow the city to streamline the project review process.
By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board, The San Diego Union-Tribune
California’s housing crisis takes a brutal toll on millions of families. The extreme cost of shelter hasn’t just established the Golden State as the epicenter of U.S. poverty and fueled explosive growth in homelessness. It’s also an immense weight on households with incomes well above the national average who struggle to pay the rent — families for whom the dream of home ownership seems hopelessly out of reach. Only one state — New York — had a lower percentage of homeowners last year.
These facts make clear the urgent need to make housing costs less onerous. But a new report by the Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project, which is headed by the David Packard-founded Silicon Valley Leadership Group, shows an even larger problem: Unless the housing crisis is resolved, Silicon Valley’s status as the world’s preeminent tech center is doomed. A region in which soaring housing costs make it harder to hire the bus drivers, construction workers, teachers, law enforcement officers and service providers essential to a functioning community is a region doomed to have a shrinking economy, not a thriving one.
San Diego voters might have thought they had heard the end of the Lilac Hills Ranch development when they defeated the plan in 2016.
But now an updated version of the project is back.
Lilac Hills Ranch still calls for more than 1,700 new homes in an area near Valley Center zoned for 100. But developers say this proposal incorporates all the conditions county planners originally requested and will help ease San Diego’s critical housing shortage.
Jon Rilling, project manager with Ranch Capital and part of the new development team behind the project, and resident Steve Hutchinson, who opposes the proposal, discuss the latest version of the controversial development Monday on Midday Edition.
By Neiko Will, KPBS
Smart Asset looked at how long a million dollars would last a retiree in various cities around the country, and ranked them accordingly. San Diego was not at the top of those rankings.
Researchers came up with an average cost of living for each city by adding up how much someone would need for housing, food, healthcare, utility and transportation expenses for a year.
Based on those numbers, McAllen, Texas was at the top of the list. The study found that a retiree there with a million dollars saved up can enjoy 42 work-free years. In San Diego, a million dollars will last you less than twenty years.
By Alison St John, KPBS
The Lilac Hills Ranch development that San Diego County voters defeated two years ago is back on the agenda. The County Planning Department is recirculating an Environmental Impact Report and the public has 45 days to comment.
The plan has the same number of homes — just over 1700 houses — in an area near Valley Center zoned for about 100.
But project manager John Rilling said a critical shortage of affordable housing in the region may have shifted public opinion.
“Under the current zoning you could build 100 five acre mac-mansions that only one percent of the population could buy,” Rilling said. “Lilac Hills Ranch, the majority of the homes will be between $300,000 and $600,000. That’s the critical price point for entry-level buyers, for young families.”