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City Council Approves Another of Mayor’s ‘Housing SD’ Reforms by Increasing Use of Live/Work Spaces

Eased Regulations Will Help Address S.D. Housing Shortage by Allowing Living Spaces in More Commercial Zones

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – Continuing the push to increase housing supply so there are more homes and apartments that San Diegans can afford, the City Council today adopted another of Mayor Faulconer’s PDF icon “Housing SD” strategies. Modifications to “Live/Work Quarter” regulations will ease rules to allow more housing in commercial areas.

“This is going to put underutilized commercial and industrial spaces to work in tackling San Diego’s housing crisis,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Lifting restrictions on housing will bring new life to old buildings and allow businesses owners to live where they work. Common-sense approaches like this will help reduce our housing shortage and increase housing affordability.”

Today’s action made amendments to the rules on Live/Work Quarters adopted as part of a March update to the City’s land development code. The changes will allow for a smaller living space in a place of business, add more business types that can include living spaces, and authorize additional locations where Live/Work Quarters are permitted. Specifically it will:

  • Expand the use to two additional zones, Commercial Visitor (except in the Coastal Overlay Zone) and Commercial Office.
  • Increase the residential floor area from 33 percent to 49 percent.
  • Reduce the minimum floor area from 750 square feet to 500 square feet.
  • No longer limit the use to an artist or artisan.
  • Allow commercial uses, offices and employees.
  • Not require additional parking.

Part of “Housing Day” at City Council, the Live/Work Quarters regulations were among several important topics discussed related to increasing San Diego’s supply of housing that most people can afford. Other topics included the City’s Housing Inventory Report, local efforts to create and preserve affordable housing, inclusionary housing and a presentation on the State’s efforts to increase housing supply.

The proposal adopted today joins several key actions taken by Mayor Faulconer and the City Council over the past year to spur construction of low-income and middle-class housing, speed up the development review process, direct funding toward affordable housing and encourage growth in transit-priority areas.

Since June 2017, the City has adopted strategies including:

  • Affordable Housing Density Program - Incentivizes developers to increase the production of smaller and more affordable units. San Diego’s program, which goes beyond state mandates, allows a developer to increase affordable units above the maximum density as long as the size of the building footprint does not increase.
  • Affordable/Sustainable Expedite Program Revisions – Encourages development near transit and improves permit processing times where qualifying projects can have their discretionary and ministerial permits expedited.
  • Companion (Second Dwelling) Unit Production – Reduces requirements for parking and permits and promotes the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units, some of which are known as “granny flats,” through the implementation of state mandates.
  • Streamlined Environmental Review – Simplifies compliance with the streamlined review process in the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA Guidelines section 15183, by offering a checklist and compliance document for public and private development projects that are consistent with the densities established by existing zoning, community plan or general plan policies for which an Environmental Impact Report was certified.

CONTACT: Greg Block at 619-227-3752 or gsblock@sandiego.gov