By Carrie Rossenfeld, GlobeSt.com
“In order to meet population growth here over the next 30 to 35 years, the market needs 400,000 housing units and 500,000 jobs. Housing is needed—it’s a big problem.” - Kris Michell
SAN DIEGO—San Diego must increase density, reduce development costs and foster community in order to help meet the demand for affordable residential builds, says the City of San Diego’s deputy COO for special projects Kris Michell at Thursday’s San Diego County Economic Roundtable here. Michell’s presentation focused on housing concerns and the strategies needed to lessen the market’s ongoing housing shortage.
Michell said each of the region’s current large projects—including SDCCU Stadium, the Convention Center and the Mission Valley redevelopment—has the ability to be a catalytic event for housing in San Diego as Petco Park did Downtown. In order to meet population growth here over the next 30 to 35 years, the market needs 400,000 housing units and 500,000 jobs. “Housing is needed—it’s a big problem.”
The strategies Michell suggests are to increase density, reduce costs and foster community. She said Downtown, there are “lot of units going up, but not a lot of variety.” There are high-end and affordable-housing units being developed, but not a lot in the middle. “We need to look at new technologies to build for less (money).” Also, housing is needed along transportation corridors—transit-oriented housing creates a more sustainable community—and we need to consider building micro-units and granny flats. “We can reduce certain standards to increase density. Infill development is our future.”
To reduce costs, we need to streamline the permit process, have clarity in permit costs and reduce parking requirements, said Michell. “Civic [San Diego] provides certainty in that process; that’s why there’s been so much development in Downtown.”
To foster community, we need to focus on placemaking—what you do what the spaces between the buildings, said Michell. “Is the space being used? Is it activated? Public space is not just parks—it’s plazas, esplanades, programming and activation.” She gave as an example New York City’s High Line, which has activated retail stores underneath it. “Housing needs to mesh with this or risk losing companies.”