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Developer Fee Rescinded By San Diego City Council

Above: The San Diego City Council is shown in this file photo. On Tuesday, the council unanimously rescinded a previously approved increase in a construction fee that goes toward paying for affordable housing.

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday unanimously rescinded a previously approved increase in a construction fee that goes toward paying for affordable housing.

Opponents from the business community collected more than enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the ballot, forcing the council to choose between a repeal or placing the issue to a public vote.

Councilman David Alvarez, a supporter of the hike, made the motion to rescind after several business leaders — including former Mayor Jerry Sanders, who now leads the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce — promised to help craft a plan to tackle the lack of affordable housing in the city.

"I don't know if it took (the increase) for you to be serious about saying that you want to come forward with a solution — work collaboratively ... I can only take you at your word," Alvarez said.

The fee was first established 24 years ago at 1.5 percent of construction costs. In 1996, the council halved the levy as an economic stimulus. An audit five years ago found that the city had not been following a requirement to review the fee on an annual basis.

In 5-4 votes in November and December, the City Council restored the fee to 1.5 percent. However, opponents said some types of businesses would be charged increases of more than 700 percent, while making only a minimal impact on San Diego's affordable housing shortage.

Rescinding the ordinance was a top priority and campaign theme for Kevin Faulconer, who was sworn in as mayor on Monday.

"This repeal of a massive increase to the linkage fee is a victory for jobs and the local economy," Faulconer said. "The City Council made the right decision, avoiding a costly election battle and creating an opportunity to reach a bipartisan compromise to address affordable housing that doesn't negatively impact San Diego's economic development."

Sanders said creating an adequate supply of affordable housing is important to the city, but placing the burden on job creators would drive businesses out of San Diego. Several cities near and far have been courting local companies recently, according to the fee's opponents.

Sanders said he hoped to work with the City Council on a "broad-based solution."

Faulconer, in his statement, said he would help business and housing advocates to find a reasonable fix for the affordable housing problem.

The council members asked business representatives to discuss their ideas with the San Diego Housing Commission, which will report back to the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee in three months.

Council President Todd Gloria said the panel would take up the issue again next year, whether a compromise is in place or not. He bristled at accusations that the council was not business-friendly and outlined several initiatives undertaken in the past year to help local commerce.

According to City Clerk Elizabeth Maland, the Registrar of Voters Office estimated that a 15-page referendum on the June 3 ballot would cost the city up to $250,000. The price tag would rise to over $300,000 in November, Maland said.

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Avatar for user 'xwagner'

xwagner | March 5, 2014 at 6:07 a.m. ― 3 years ago

"The business community will work with the city to find another solution" -- oh, man. More of the same. Affordable housing? WE DON'T NEED ANY STEEEEKIN POOR PEOPLE IN THIS CITY, is that the idea? Let them ride a bus for two hours each way to work at minimum wage jobs?

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | March 5, 2014 at 7:34 a.m. ― 3 years ago

maybe its all the hot air generated by the city council that makes the library dome whine.

I'm sure they will find another way to hoze the tax payers to foot the bill for "affordable" housing

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 5, 2014 at 8:55 a.m. ― 3 years ago

xwagner if I had to ride the bus 2 hours each way for a minimum wage job, I would find a different job. Did you ever think of that?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 5, 2014 at 9:22 a.m. ― 3 years ago

More unrealistic ideology from the far right wing that thinks a society can function without people doing the bottom tier manual labor jobs.

I honestly think that some of these people would be in favor of putting poor people in concentration camps where they can be tortured for not being able to pay their way.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 5, 2014 at 11:02 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Peking do you have a problem with people contributing to society instead of kicking back and collecting welfare, unemployment, section 8 housing, free healthcare, etc? Checking out of all life responsibilities should have negative consequences, not rewards.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 5, 2014 at 1:40 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Jean, I'm a realist. I realize that in any society, you will have wealthy, middle class, and poor people.

You need people working at all levels and with all education levels in order for society to function.

Wealthy CEOs and middle class management folk can't make their money without lower-paid individuals doing the lower-paid laborious work.

A well-functioning society is one where everybody is able to live a decent life as long as they work hard, and working hard does NOT necessarily mean getting paid a lot.

The thing you seem to fail to recognize is that in a modern society you don't live in isolation. When "negative consequences" happen to one group, they can have peripheral impacts across society that can impact even you.

Take healthcare as just one example.

You may have this isolationist notion that letting the tens of millions of people who can't afford basic healthcare access rot won't impact you, but it will.

With all our global competitors offering healthcare to ALL our citizens, and us not doing so, our country will have a huge burden that our competitors don't.

It would lower productivity and increase healthcare costs on the back-end as treatable ailments balloon into medical emergencies because poor people don't have basic medical care.

What does that mean for you: higher healthcare cost, a country that struggles to compete globally, overall lost production and efficiency across many sectors due to sick time and a working poor in sub-par health, and eventually a deterioation of quality of life for ALL in this country, not just for the poor.

You can spend your time and energy complaining about poor people getting food stamps and health care, or you can realize that the poor are a part of any society and the good of the society as a whole is ensuring these people have BASIC things - food stamps, AFFORDABLE housing, BASIC healthcare.

The way you write, one would think the government is giving people free mansions and luxury dinners. I mean come on, we are talking about supplementing things so people without means can have the bare minimum. It's not only morally right, but it's vital to do if any society is going to function properly.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 5, 2014 at 3:13 p.m. ― 3 years ago

PDSD, what are your views on automation? Do you believe your statements regarding the necessity of unskilled labor will be true in 10, 20 or 50 years?

Sensors and controller AI are rapidly improving. Right now, for a few hundred bucks I can have a robot sweep my floor every day. How much of a hotel's service staff will be able to be replaced by machines in 2025? What do you think the ROI on those machines will look like? How many poor people do you really think we need?


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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 5, 2014 at 4:21 p.m. ― 3 years ago

benz, even with automation there will always be people who make less than others. I don't think the government should pay for luxury items for anybody, but I think a government should be responsible for safety nets for basic things like health care and food.

We give tons away in corporate welfare - all the tax breaks and special favors to big corporations, those come from tax payers too.

Why are conservtaives always so appauled by giving poor people basic clinic care or a supplement on an apartment, but the tax breaks, special favors, and lucrative contracts given by heavy lobbying activities are all OK?

If tax money goes to aiding the poor it's bad but if it goes to helping the rich get richer it's A-OK??

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 5, 2014 at 7:33 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Not at all, giving public money to anyone for free is a horrid abuse of public trust. That aside, it doesn't answer the basic question of how many manual laborers will be required in the coming decades.
We have already covered, multiple times, our disagreements about what an individual is responsible for and what a government is responsible for. Can we instead talk about what you predict will happen as automation becomes more capable and the cost of human labor continues to rise? How do you propose this be addressed? Or does it even need to be? Shall we let the chips fall where they may?

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Avatar for user 'Observer2014'

Observer2014 | March 6, 2014 at 11:12 a.m. ― 3 years ago

benz72, Let me turn your question back on you. How do you think it should work?

If there is a large portion of society unable to find work or income, do they die off in a mass extermination? This will allow the surviving educated and wealthy to live in a cleaner, less poverty cluttered world?

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 6, 2014 at 2:59 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Observer2014 - sounds good to me. Unfortunately what will happen instead is the government will try to take care of everyone, and we will end up like france, spain, italy, greece. Too many people mooching, and a few people paying for it all.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | March 6, 2014 at 2:59 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Shocking that developers get yet another handout.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 6, 2014 at 3:41 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Developers create jobs. What is shocking to me is that 47% of the population of this country pay zero income tax.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 7, 2014 at 8:29 a.m. ― 3 years ago

O2014, that is the second most probable medium term outcome in my mind, behind JM's prediction.
Preferably we will recognize a reduced demand for low skilled labor and drastically cut back production of it through immigration reform, loosening regulation of abortion providers and elimination of perverse incentives for reproduction. Simultaneously, if we cease subsidizing the non contributors in the near term they will begin a protracted but less dramatic die off sooner and avoid or lessen the impact of an increased population becoming unsupportable all at the same time.

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