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HUD Secretary Recognizes City of San Diego’s Progress in Reducing Barriers to Affordable Housing

Top U.S. Housing Official Visits San Diego on Nationwide Affordable Housing Tour

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – At the recently opened Stella affordable housing complex in Grantville, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today met with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson to discuss San Diego’s efforts to reduce barriers to construction and spur development of affordable housing.

The meeting, which came at the request of HUD, is part of Secretary Carson’s “Driving Affordable Housing Across America” bus tour. Following a tour of the recently opened Stella affordable housing complex, which is managed by Affirmed Housing, a local developer of affordable housing, Mayor Faulconer and Secretary Carson hosted a roundtable with community leaders about reducing regulatory barriers to affordable housing and innovative ways the City is working to increase the area’s housing supply.

“The City of San Diego continues to implement the most forward-thinking housing reforms in California as we do our part to address the statewide housing crisis,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Projects like Stella are the culmination of those efforts to lower costs and speed up the construction of more affordable housing. We’re excited to share our progress with Secretary Carson and how we plan to take our efforts to the next level this year.”

Projects like the Stella and Bluewater complexes in Grantville have been able to be fast-tracked due to the City’s push to update community plans and streamline project reviews for affordable housing. The Grantville Amendment was approved in 2015 and since then over 1,000 units have opened with another 1,000 in various stages of planning and construction.

“San Diego exemplifies the progress that can be made with communication and the realization of common goals across all levels of government,” Secretary Carson said. “As we continue to shred excessive regulatory barriers like we did here today, we will increase the affordable housing stock for residents of San Diego and the surrounding areas.”

“We’re extremely pleased that Secretary Carson has hit the road, to learn state by state, best practices in affordable housing,” said Jim Silverwood, President and CEO of Affirmed Housing. “Affirmed’s mission to provide safe and affordable homes and services to our state’s most disenfranchised residents is an honor and privilege. With wrap-around services, Affirmed Housing is proud to see lives changed and hope renewed for thousands of veterans, seniors and families.”

Under Mayor Faulconer, the City has worked to implement significant reforms to increase housing affordability, spur construction, lower costs and promote smart growth. In the last year, Mayor Faulconer has won City Council approval for several reforms including:

  • Parking Reform: Eliminated parking requirements along new housing developments in transit priority areas, reducing development costs while encouraging usage of alternative forms of transportation.
  • Streamlined Regulations for Companion Units: Resulting in a 375 percent spike in applications, making it easier and more affordable to permit “granny flats” and other companion units.
  • Reduced Fees: Updated the Affordable, Sustainable, Infill Development Program to eliminate expedite fees for projects building 100% affordable housing in the city.
  • Streamlined Project Reviews: Changed the municipal code to speed up the approval process.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing By-Right: Updated the municipal code to allow for a streamlined process to construct housing with accompanying supportive services for homeless San Diegans.
  • Transitional Housing By-Right: Eliminates burdensome regulations placed on developers to encourage more projects by-right to help formerly homeless individuals.
  • Affordable Housing Density Bonuses: The added incentives go beyond what the current state law mandates to help spur the development of affordable housing for all San Diegans, including seniors, military personnel, former foster youth, disabled veterans and homeless individuals.
  • Commercial Flexibility: Flexibility to allow for the interim use of vacant ground floor commercial space to be used for residential units.
  • Mixed-Use Zoning: Created six new land-use zones that allow projects to include a mix of residential and employment uses. The goal is to provide flexibility for builders to meet market demands and locate more housing near jobs.

This year Mayor Faulconer plans to bring forward his Complete Communities initiative designed to take the four pillars of a neighborhood – infrastructure, parks, transportation and homes – and combine them into one comprehensive vision to deliver everything a neighborhood needs to be complete. The plan will go before Council this spring.

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