By Roger Showley, The San Diego Union Tribune
Question: Can San Diego build its way out of the housing crisis?
Phil Blair, Manpower
YES: What other choice do we have? We will need to implement our long dormant "City of Villages" program that not only encourages density around transportation hubs but demands it.
Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research
YES: We can, but we won’t. The political will to do so does not exist. Building enough housing would require opening development to areas not currently designated for housing, including much of the unincorporated areas of the county. Higher densities would be needed in incorporated areas as well, but there is little will to accept that other than in downtown San Diego. Much more infrastructure would also be necessary from roads to energy to water supplies.
Construction continues at a CityMark Development of 21 townhomes located on Bankers Hill near Balboa Park (K.C. Alfred / UT)
David Ely, San Diego State University
NO: The San Diego Housing Commission estimates that the city’s housing need will be 150,000-220,000 by 2028. This gap exists because housing growth has been well below population growth for the past decade. Relaxing parking and zoning requirements and removing other barriers can boost housing construction, but it will be a real challenge to reach the growth rates needed to expand the housing stock to the level needed to eliminate the expected shortfall.
Gina Champion-Cain, American National Investments
NO: There is neither political nor public will to do so. Nearly all development proposals are met with public resistance resulting in decreased density and increased cost. Government policy is overwhelmingly geared toward development restriction and fee collection as opposed to construction incentive and reduction of NIMBYist delay. To create housing stock we would need to reverse nearly all current regulatory philosophy, decrease fees, restrict CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) scope, increase density and rezone retail to residential. Unfortunately, none of which will occur.
Alan Gin, University of San Diego
He is not participating this week.
James Hamilton, UC San Diego
NO: If house prices in San Diego were the same as everywhere else in the country, everybody would want to move here. Our above-average incomes and thriving high-tech industries are another reason why San Diego house prices will always be higher than the U.S. average. Nevertheless, reforms of zoning regulations and the process for obtaining permission for new projects could certainly relieve some of the pressure on San Diego real estate prices.
Gary London, London Group of Realty Advisors
YES: It will take a unified, regional effort. I recommend a 10-year “moon shot” with the goal of (1) supplying 17,000 housing units a year, which would cover past and future shortfalls; (2) unit types must be targeted to young families, which can be accomplished by mega-permitting townhomes, rowhomes and granny flats; and (3) targeted pricing average must be approximately $500,000. This is a tall order, but if we can accomplish this, than we will balance supply and demand.
Norm Miller, University of San Diego
YES: In reality, no, based on political opposition from the vast majority of the neighborhoods in San Diego County and state-level mandated requirements that are adding significant new cost burdens. But in theory, yes, our housing shortage is solvable with a combination of (1) accessible dwelling units on excess lot space and above garages; (2) greater density with 45-foot heights allowed everywhere except when close to the coast; (3) allowing more units per acre and more mixed use;and, (4) greatly reducing parking requirements.
Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions
YES: But there’s much that needs to be done to make that happen. Critical housing policies and regulations need to be reformed. The San Diego Housing Commission’s recently released Housing Production Objectives report states that San Diego has sufficient housing potential to meet 10-year needs if all capacity sources are fully utilized including rezoning, redevelopment, adapting industrial zones and city sites, and infilling vacant lots. As stated by SDHC President and CEO Rick Gentry, the San Diego housing affordability crisis requires innovation, collaboration, and the will to take action.
Austin Neudecker, Rev
YES: San Diego is an attractive place to live. As long as we can continue to bring economic growth to the area, we should expect real estate prices to rise. However, the current limited supply of housing options has accelerated this natural price inflation. Our local governments should facilitate development projects (targeted at all income levels) by removing barriers, accelerating approvals, and other incentives where they can.
Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates
YES: But the question should really be "will" San Diego build its way out of the housing crisis, and that remains to be seen. Many neighborhoods that are located near areas of rapid job growth have resisted developer desire to build housing stock. This resistance creates projects that might become financially marginal, reduces the number of units needed to satisfy housing demand or both. Something must change to avoid a housing crisis.
Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University
YES: Just as the low level of new housing construction is the root of the problem, increasing supply is the answer. Our earlier work showed that regulation, including costly delays, represents 40 percent of housing costs. San Diego has taken important steps to reduce these expenses. More needs to be done, including rethinking density concepts, reducing parking requirements, shortening approval times, and avoiding new costs, such as prevailing wage requirements. Raising supply will be difficult, but it is doable.
John Sarkisian, SKLZ
YES: If there is a coordinated effort by governments to shorten the time needed to receive building permits and to lower the fees associated with development, we can build our way out of the housing shortage. The new housing stock will look much different than the existing housing inventory. New housing will be high density, urban, pedestrian and bike oriented. With increased density and proper urban planning, we can provide housing for a growing population.
Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health
NO: The scarcity of suitable land for housing and its correspondingly high cost make it difficult to relieve the shortage. State and local governments can help by encouraging high-density housing development and by providing the necessary infrastructure to make these projects viable. Moreover, they need to reduce over-regulation and control of growth. Recent changes to state law will help, but they don’t go far enough and won’t come soon enough to alleviate this crisis.