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City Planning Department

Code Updates Aimed at Boosting Affordability Receive Unanimous City Council Approval

Updates Promote Smart Future Growth and Help Increase Housing Supply for San Diego’s Most Vulnerable Residents

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego, CA – Continuing his push to increase housing supply and boost affordability, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer’s latest round of housing reforms won unanimous City Council approval Tuesday. The new reforms are included in a Housing Legislative Code Update, a package of amendments to the City’s municipal code to help increase supply, lower costs and promote smart growth in San Diego.

“For too many hardworking San Diegans, the dream of homeownership has gotten dangerously out of reach,” Mayor Faulconer said. “That’s why we’re working hard to lower costs and encourage more construction. The changes we’re making now are going to speed up the development process, cut burdensome regulations, and make it easier to build units that San Diegans can actually afford.”

The changes included in this package implement state housing legislation and tailor it to our local San Diego conditions. Among the code updates:

  • Housing for the Homeless
    • Permits low barrier navigation centers as a limited use in mixed-use & commercial zones that allow multi-family.
    • Permits emergency shelters as a limited use in all community commercial zones.
    • Permits transitional housing facilities and permanent supportive housing by-right in additional zones.
  • Updates to the Density Bonus Program
    • Applied to projects that provide 100% of pre-bonus units as affordable to very low- and low-income households (20% may be moderate, in accordance with AB1763).
    • Applied to projects that provide 100% of all units in the development as affordable to very low, low, and moderate-income households in any combination.
    • Applied to projects with 20% of the pre-bonus units affordable to low-income students.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units
    • Allowing one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and one junior ADU in a single-family zone.
    • Allows an ADU of up to 1,200 square feet attached or detached from the main dwelling unit.
    • Allows ADU bonus program for deed restricted ADUs, with no limit on bonus ADUs within transit priority areas.
    • Eliminates parking requirements for ADUs as well as junior ADUs. This applies to garages and carports being converted to ADUs or junior ADUs.
    • Mandates that ADUs and junior ADUs cannot be rented for less than 31 days.
  • Other Updates
    • Permits employee housing for six or fewer by-right in all zones that permit multi-family.
    • Allows residential density that complies with the land-use plan to be approved by-right.
    • Requires at least 1:1 replacement of all dwelling units and affordable dwelling units for certain projects.


Under Mayor Faulconer’s leadership, the City of San Diego has taken aggressive action to address California’s housing affordability crisis on a local level. Several of Mayor Faulconer’s “Housing SD” reforms have been adopted, including:

  • Parking Reform: Eliminated outdated parking requirements for new housing developments in transit priority areas, reducing development costs while encouraging the usage of alternative forms of transportation.
  • Waived Fees for Low-Income and Homeless Housing: Permits Permanent Supportive Housing and Transitional Housing Facilities by-right in zones that allow multi-family housing, subject to requirements and waives impact fees.
  • Housing in Commercial Zones: Flexibility to allow interim ground floor residential or office where commercial retail is typically required through a Neighborhood Use Permit.
  • 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.
  • Affordable Dwelling/Companion Units: Made it easier to and more affordable to permit “granny flats” and other companion units, resulting in a 375% spike in applications in 2019.
  • Updated Community Plans: Since Mayor Faulconer took office in 2014, a record 15 community plan updates have been completed, creating an additional capacity of 74,000 housing units citywide.
  • Repurposing Underutilized Parking Lots: Under the adopted changes in 2019, institutions including religious organizations could choose to build affordable housing units in their parking lots to better utilize large areas of the property that are typically unused.