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San Diego Aims To Have Fewer Parking Spaces And More Affordable Housing

— The city of San Diego has taken steps to make affordable housing more affordable, and more plentiful, while also encouraging people to take the trolley or the bus. The strategy: Build fewer parking spaces.

Aired 10/23/12 on KPBS News.

The San Diego City Council will require less parking for affordable housing developments to reduce costs and encourage alternative transportation.

City Heights Square, Senior Community Center's affordable senior housing
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Above: City Heights Square, Senior Community Center's affordable senior housing

San Diego requires all developers to build off-street parking. But a local study shows affordable housing developments have more parking than they actually need.

So the San Diego City Council has reduced the requirements for new affordable units. In some cases, developers only have to build half as many parking spaces.

Elyse Lowe, with the pro-mass transit group Move San Diego, says the new laws will make affordable housing more affordable.

"It costs about $40,000 to build one surface-level parking space. So if you can reduce that cost, it reduces the cost of the unit," said Lowe.

To Lowe, the new regulations have an added benefit of making San Diego less car-dependent. In fact, the new rules only apply to affordable housing units that are reasonably close to bus or trolley lines. The requirements for building parking spaces are also reduced when housing is built in neighborhoods with easy access to stores and services.

Others hope that reducing the cost of new developments, by requiring less parking, will counteract the loss of redevelopment financing. Redevelopment zones were this year eliminated by the Governor and the California Legislature.

"In order to provide affordable housing, we need to focus on regulatory fixes," said Susan Tinsky, executive director of the San Diego Housing Federation. "Financing is so scarce now, that measures like this are a way that we can continue to provide housing for our workforce and our seniors."

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