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San Diego County To Study Affordable Housing Solutions

The County Board of Supervisors hold a meeting, April 17, 2018.

Photo by Jean Guerrero

Above: The County Board of Supervisors hold a meeting, April 17, 2018.

The Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to direct staff to investigate ways to promote the construction of homes for low- and middle-income families in unincorporated San Diego County.

They'll focus on six areas where the county could make changes: streamlining the permitting process, correcting problematic laws and codes, rolling out incentives, updating community plans and modernizing land development codes.

The chief administrative officer will report back to the supervisors within six months on actions county government can take in those areas.

The move was met positively by representatives from the building industry, who said the process of planning, permitting and building new homes can be arduous and stymies the supply of affordable houses.

"Everybody's been talking about the housing crisis for months, if not years," said Matthew Adams of the Building Industry Association of San Diego. "We all know the root causes, we all know the consequences ... now it's time to solve it."

Nearly half of people in San Diego County are what's known as "housing-cost burdened," which means they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent or other housing costs.

RELATED: Committee To Host Affordable Housing Workshops

The median price of a home in San Diego County is $550,000. In unincorporated areas, where county government has direct control, that number rises to $585,000, according to county staff.

A family earning the area's median family income of $81,800 would need to set aside 30 percent of their income for five years in order to save for a $110,000 down payment while also paying rent at their current residence, which on average ranges between $1,800 and $2,200, according to county planner Tara Lieberman.

The cost of housing in San Diego County and lack of affordable options has prompted many people to move to Riverside County, where the median home costs $354,600. One in five San Diego region workers live outside the county. While they save money on housing, they're left with long commutes that contribute to road congestion and pollution, county staff said.

Among the solutions county staff plan to explore are shortening the time it takes to build a house due to regulatory hurdles, increasing density bonus programs, updating some 15 community plans by 2030 and overhauling the land development codes, which were written in 1975.

Unincorporated areas are home to 492,500 of the region's 3.3 million people and account for the vast majority of land in San Diego County.

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