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Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

Panel Seeks Solutions for Affordable Housing

Panel Seeks Solutions for Affordable Housing


Staff Writer

With ideas ranging from a regional trust fund to a concept known as inclusionary housing, a regional panel has begun its search for ways to create more affordable housing.

The housing trust fund was one of the ideas discussed recently by the San Diego Association of Governments, noting the city of San Diego established its housing trust fund in 1990; so far it has accumulated some $51 million.

It is funded by an assessment on businesses when they build new facilities or expand their buildings, which the city calls a linkage fee.

Sandag is eyeing some sources of funding for a regional housing trust fund, such as commercial/industrial linkage fees, and property transfer fees, which are paid when properties are sold.

Susan Baldwin, a senior regional planner at Sandag, said the agency already has experience in allocating transportation funds throughout the region. That experience could be helpful in allocating money from a housing trust fund. Or, cities could create its own funds.

Julianne Nygaard, who chairs the North County Transit Development board and is that agency’s Sandag representative, said inclusionary housing requirements are a good way to create affordable housing.

“It makes it easier to make it happen. But, it’s difficult to do,” Nygard said, who’s also a Carlsbad city councilwoman.

Inclusionary housing policies, another idea Sandag is considering, require developers to include a percentage of affordable units in their housing developments and apartment buildings.

Baldwin said 10 cities in the county have inclusionary housing policies. San Diego and the county are in the process of creating their own policies.

Sandag board member Judy Ritter, a Vista City Councilwoman and a member of Sandag’s Regional Housing Task Force, said the regional planning agency and local jurisdictions all share the responsibility of addressing housing affordability and supply.

Housing analyst Russ Valone, president of San Diego-based MarketPoint Realty Advisors, said the cost of requiring developers to include affordable homes in their projects is passed on to the other homebuyers in the neighborhood.

In San Diego County, between 8,000 and 10,000 new homes are purchased each year. Valone said affordable housing initiatives should be more broad-based.

“Add one-one-hundredth of a percent to the property tax so the whole region is putting money into affordable housing,” he said. “You can’t just put it on the back of the homebuyer.”

According to Sandag’s figures, the median price of a resale home in San Diego County is $280,000, and the median new home sale price is $330,000. The median resale price increased 44 percent and the median new home price increased 57 percent between 1990 and 2000, while incomes increased only 33 percent in the same period.

Also, Sandag noted in its 2001 report “Solving the San Diego Region’s Housing Crisis,” the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is more than $1,000 per month countywide. Vacancy rates average between 1 and 2 percent, the report stated.

Sandag produced a video, which was shown at its Feb. 8 board meeting, titled “A Place to Call Home: A Tour of Smart Growth in the San Diego Region.” It will be used at city council and planning meetings, and at community organization functions, such as Rotary Clubs and chamber of commerce meetings.

The 30-minute video, which cost $20,000 to produce, was funded by Sandag and representatives of the approximately 50-member Regional Housing Task Force. It emphasizes the need for smart growth initiatives , pairing dense housing and commercial uses with access to transit , by highlighting recent examples around the county.

Sandag board members expect to revisit affordable housing issues in two or three months after staff members compile reports on regional housing trust funds, improving the link between transportation funding and smart growth, and other regions’ approaches to affordable housing.


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