Monday, July 24, 2017 - NEWS RELEASE
– The City Council today unanimously approved the first two proposals in Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer’s “Housing SD” plan – a set of policy changes that aim to address the high price of housing for low- and middle-income San Diegans by increasing housing supply, lowering costs and promoting smart growth
The first piece of legislation changed the municipal code to make it easier to build companion units, also known as granny flats. The second revised a program meant to encourage affordable and green development by speeding up the permitting process for qualifying projects, thereby spurring more housing construction.
“We need to make housing more affordable for hardworking San Diegans who are being priced out of our city because of California’s housing shortage,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. “The changes we made today are the first of many steps we’re taking this year to lower housing costs and increase housing options for folks struggling during this affordability crisis. San Diegans can’t afford for us to wait, and today shows that City Hall is listening and taking action.”
The problem has been well-documented. More than 70 percent of San Diegans can’t afford to buy a house at the county’s median home cost of more than $500,000 – making San Diego one of the least affordable markets in the country.
To address the shortage of affordable homes and apartments, Mayor Faulconer was joined last month by a bipartisan group of elected officials and housing advocates to unveil the “Housing SD” plan
. It includes a dozen strategies to spur the construction of low-income and middle-class housing through incentives; streamline development standards and speed up the review process; direct funding toward affordable housing; and encourage growth in transit-friendly areas, which also supports the goals of the Climate Action Plan.
The two strategies approved Monday are:
Expanding housing projects eligible for accelerated permitting through the Affordable/Sustainable Expedite Program: First introduced in the 1980s, the purpose of the program is to offer flexibility in the application of development regulations, as well as make available expedited permit review for projects providing affordable and sustainable housing.
As the program currently stands, only certain affordable and sustainable development projects are allowed to deviate from specified development standards. In an effort to encourage the use of this tool, the changes adopted today expand the eligibility of the program to include affordable and sustainable residential or residential mixed-use development that:
• Include at least 10 percent of units reserved for low/very low income families; or
• Are located in the City’s Transit Priority Areas; or
• Incorporate voluntary Tier 2 sustainable development standards pursuant to CAL Green Building Code
Eligible projects that fit into one of the categories above then qualify for the following permit expedite benefits:
• Deviations from development standards may be processed with a Neighborhood Development Permit (NDP) as opposed to a higher-level Site Development Permit
• Additional deviations, including Environmentally Sensitive Lands, can be processed with an NPD through a Hearing Officer (Process Two) as opposed to the Planning Commission (Process Four)
• Projects within the Community Plan Implementation Overlay Zone can be processed with an NPD through a Hearing Officer
Making it easier to add Companion Units: Companion Units (CU’s) offer benefits that address common development barriers, such as affordability. It costs significantly less to construct CUs rather than new multifamily infill buildings because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure or structured parking.
In order to make it easier to build CU’s, the code changes approved today would implement state mandates as well as amendments that promote construction of CU’s. The approved incentives include:
• Remove requirement that the recorded owner reside on premises
• Remove specialized height restrictions and use base zone height limits thus allowing CU construction over garages
• Increase unit size from 700 square feet to 50 percent of the primary residence’s size or 1,200 square feet, whichever is less
• Reduce setback requirements
• Reduce parking requirements