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San Diego Takes Steps To Alleviate Housing Crisis, Report Reveals

A house for sale in San Diego, Aug. 14, 2013.
Associated Press
A house for sale in San Diego, Aug. 14, 2013.

San Diego Takes Steps To Alleviate Housing Crisis, Report Reveals
San Diego Takes Steps To Alleviate Housing Crisis, Report Reveals GUEST Jade Hindmon, reporter, KPBS News

>>> More than 70% of people who live in the city of San Diego cannot afford to buy a home. 30% of moderate income households cannot afford to rent. These are some of the shocking facts of the city of San Diego's housing inventory report. It confers what we know that our children cannot afford to live in the city where they grew up. Working couples are spending more of their income on housing. Seniors and those on fixed incomes are threatened with losing the roof over their heads as rent keeps increasing. Here is what the report tells us, KPBS reported Kate Hindman. This is the first city report of its kind. Who compiled it and why. >> You have city departments and housing commission. Mayor falconer said he cannot fix which you do not know. This is Mayor Faulkner's housing plan and a way to measure the efforts being put forth to make housing more affordable. Testing promising results with an increase of building permits. But we will not see the effects of that for a number of years especially for low income people. The report says for low income renters it is depressing give us the news. >> Rental rates are up 34%. The median home price is $635,000. >>> You have done stories about this, in an earlier news feature about housing, you spoke to Judy Strickland to get her take on the housing market and how it affected her family here she is . >> I have adult children. Only one of the four only home. The other three would love to own a home. The house prices are exorbitant. I think they might have to leave the city to achieve the goal. >>> A lot of families can relate. >> The interesting thing about that woman I spoke to is that the friend whom she was sitting across the table from was a San Diego resident, moved to Arizona because housing was more affordable for her. These are people who were once living here. I got married early in life and were able to buy a home. Now all of a sudden it is out of reach for them, their children, and they are concerned. >>> You had experience yourself right ? >> I just got here and I've been in the process of trying to fight -- find a place to rent and it is very expensive. >>> It is affecting the whole economy of San Diego. Tell us about that. >> Wages are not growing at the rate that housing is growing. I talked to someone who is a lecture about real estate. He is saying that we are moving towards an hourglass economy. Where you have really really wealthy people and you have low income people. And you don't have anything in the middle. You have not worked on the middle class. It is hard for any city to sustain itself with that type of an economy. You will find people fleeing. People will just leave San Diego and go somewhere else where their dollar is valued more. >>> The report notes that the city is behind its regional housing needs goal. How far behind? >> The goal is 88 thousand 96 new housing units and that was for 2010 and 2020. Only 30% was built so far. >>> The city says they have been streamlining the process to get permits. That was one of the reasons it was difficult to new houses built. That resulted in three times the number of units approved each year from 2000 to nearly 6000. Even with that, is the city still behind on its goals? >> They are still behind. The goal itself was a small number. It was a fraction of what is needed. While we double the number, it is still a small number. >>> You spoke earlier about the kind of housing being built and how it is a hourglass economy. What kind of housing is the most common being built right now. >> In every corner of downtown San Diego, you see apartments going up and being built. You would think that that would actually help the housing market. What we are finding is that those apartments are really the high-end luxury Apartments. They are not affordable housing at all. The only impact that that eventually has is years down the line as more of those high-end apartments are built, the value will come down and maybe at some point be affordable for someone. >>> What does the mayor and city say that they are doing to increase affordability and housing. What reforms are they putting into place? >> The city Council has adopted several proposals that expand the city's affordable housing density program. They change several coats the speed up the program and build companion unions -- units and streamline. There is an easier way to make a profit. >>> Anything else they are talking about doing in the future ? >> No. There is no hope. >>> Thank you so much for filling us in. I sincerely hope you find a place to rent very soon. >> Thank you very much.

The city of San Diego has taken steps to address the housing shortage, though "it may take some time to start seeing results,'' according to a city report released on Tuesday.

Roughly 30 percent of moderate-income households can't afford rent in San Diego, and 70 percent can't afford to own a home, said the city's first Housing Inventory Annual Report.

Rental rates increased 34 percent between 2013 and 2017, with studio unit prices rising most rapidly at 51 percent.

The median regional home price has grown to $605,000, up 8 percent from January 2017. Median condominium and town home prices, meanwhile, rose from $370,000 to $400,000 over the same span.

The housing shortage has increased prices, reduced options and made the city less appealing to businesses, the report said.

It noted several recent ordinance changes that incentivized development, including affordable housing density bonuses, reduced parking requirements and waived fees for accessory dwelling units, also called granny flats.

However, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer called for additional reforms and permit streamlining to alleviate the housing crisis.

"The need to build more housing that people can actually afford has never been more critical as the dream of home ownership is becoming out of reach for more and more San Diegans,'' Faulconer said. "The numbers in this report are a sobering reminder of the crisis we face to build housing and the importance of tracking the progress of the reforms we've implemented to spur new housing construction in the coming years.''

The city's population has grown an average of 1.2 percent each year, though the housing stock has only grown .5 percent annually.

Local vacancy rates have declined since 2013, according to the report.

In 2016, there was only 1.3-percent vacancy among the ownership- housing supply, compared to a healthy vacancy rate of 5 percent. The rental vacancy rate hovered around 3 percent in 2017, compared to a healthy rate of 5 percent.

San Diego is also falling well-short of its Regional Housing Needs Allocation, a state-mandated count that determines how many new units are needed to accommodate population growth. San Diego was to build 88,096 new units between 2010 and 2020. Only 33,159 units, 38 percent of the goal, have been added.

Additionally, 86.6 percent of new units were for above-moderate income residents, while only 13.3 percent were for low-income residents.

The report pinpointed a few positives, including increases in the amount of discretionary building permits issued each year between 2014 and 2017, when the total grew from 2,115 to 5,865 permits. Overall, 19,974 permits were issued between 2013 and 2017.

Permits can be issued several years before workers break ground on a project, so they are indicators — not guarantees — of future housing stock.