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Rancho Peñasquitos Housing Development Clears City Council

The entrance sign to the Penasquitos Village housing development in Rancho Peñasquitos is seen here, Aug. 14, 2017.
Katie Schoolov
The entrance sign to the Penasquitos Village housing development in Rancho Peñasquitos is seen here, Aug. 14, 2017.
Rancho Peñasquitos Housing Development Clears City Council
Rancho Peñasquitos Housing Development Clears City Council GUEST:Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

>> This is KPBS midday edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The San Diego city Council took a step forward Monday in the effort to create more housing in the region. A development in Rancho [ Indiscernible ] called Pacific Village will provide 600 apartments, try boxes, telephones and single-family detached houses on a site where 332 homes are now located. >> Initially the project face considerable opposition because of the low income residents who would be forced to relocate. >> KPBS reporter Andrew Bell and has been following the story and he joined me now. >> Andrew, welcome. >> Thank you. You originally melt met with residents of the apartment and they didn't know where they would go when this was first proposed. What did they tell you at that time? >> I interviewed an elderly woman named [ Indiscernible ]. She is in her 90s lives on Social Security and section 8 housing voucher. And she said she liked her neighborhood, it was quiet, there was no crime. There's a bus that takes her to the grocery store. And this was before some of the relocation assistance efforts came from the landlord. But at the time she said it was a tight rental market. It is a tight rental market especially for low income folks and even with the housing battery can be very difficult if I delivered who will accept it. >> And was with a low income housing development when it was first built? >> And this was built in 1970, it was designated low income housing in the 90s. But that agreement expired in 2010. And the owner decided to opt out of the program and so the homes converted to market rates and they have been ever since. >> But they are relatively small homes, they are old, they don't have a newer and enemies like dishwashers of the low quality of the housing is naturally affordable. It's everything that the landlord agreed to continue accepting the housing vouchers even after that affordability agreement expired. And just so we are clear on what market rate means, essentially the landlord legally with no oversight from the city Council reason rents to the point that the tenants could afford them, eventually evict the tenants and redevelop the property without this problem of having current tenants living there that would be displaced because they would all be forced out in a more aggressive way. But little did not do that. >> By the time the final vote yesterday, a group of housing and labor advocates dropped their opposition to the project, what one the opposition over? >> So the developer may [ Audio cutting out ] [ No Audio ] >> Some changes to the project last year and decided to make 60 of the apartments affordable to low income people. They also offered a relocation package in the form of cash assistance or moving service that at a discounted rate or free rate. And mostly recently the landlord also decided to offer or cash assistance for relocation. They also agreed to open all of the some of the other properties that they owned to the section 8 housing recipients. And they agreed to build 12 new affordable homes in a nearby community. Now this one one over some of the opponents, but not all of them. >> Right, not all of them but some of the current residence testified yesterday that they are still afraid they won't find places to live or will be able to stay there after vouchers were now. >> Yes so two tenants spoke at the meeting to be present that they lived at the village. One lady was elderly and she talked about medical problems she had and that her doctor told her to avoid stress and this whole situation has been incredibly stressful for her. Another one with a mother of two and the sole breadwinner of her family. And she just said incident incredibly daunting task to try to find a new home in San Diego right now. The relocation assistance last several months, it might help them for a short time but after it runs out, who knows what will happen. >> Now the new Pacific village developed as you said now has 60 affordable units included. What do they mean by affordable? >> So low income housing is essentially what it means. So rents have to meet the affordability requirements at below the market rate and they are reserved to people who make below the area median income. The city allows developers to when they have a housing project to either make 10% of the homes that they are building affordable to low-income people or to pay a new fee. And they almost always pay the fee because it's cheaper. >> In the long run. >> Much of the Council discussion yesterday, and this incited to other projects that came before the Council before it, was whether or not the city should continue to allow developers to buy their way out of this affordability requirement. So if the city requires on-site inclusion area affordability for every housing development, that can effectively spread the low income housing across the city more equally or equitably and it could create some more low income housing and high opportunity areas where people are more likely to be able to up the social ladder and not all of the affordable housing in the adults with the dolls for the latest chief. >> So the project will increase the overall number of homes in the area by more than 260. What to city Council members have to say about the increase? >> Well the densification of this property was actually a big reason why it won support from the city Council. There is a net increase of housing, how would how the housing shortage isn't major driver of the affordability crisis in San Diego. And you have high owners coming to San Diego for all these new jobs they have few options for housing. They don't qualify for the low income housing in the not rich enough for the high luxury homes, so they might buy these homes and renovate them, make them nicer and ultimately and perhaps unintentionally displays a lot of low income communities. >> So the solution very much everyone on the political spectrum agrees, is to build more housing at all income levels. >> I have been speaking with KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen, Andrew thinks. >> My pleasure.

Rancho Peñasquitos Housing Development Clears City Council
San Diego City Council members approved the construction of 600 homes in Rancho Peñasquitos. The project attracted controversy because some of the current residents depend on federal housing vouchers.

A plan to construct 600 new homes in Rancho Peñasquitos cleared its final hurdle at the San Diego City Council on Monday after a group of housing and labor advocates dropped their opposition to the project.

The plan, called Pacific Village, would demolish the existing 332 single-story homes off Carmel Mountain Road and construct 600 apartments, triplexes, townhomes and single-family detached houses. It attracted intense scrutiny because some of the current residents are low income and depend on federal housing vouchers to pay the rent.

Developer Lennar Homes and property owner Atlantic & Pacific struck a deal with some of the project's opponents last week. The developers agreed to offer more cash to the current residents who will have to relocate as construction begins, and to construct 12 additional low-income housing units in the nearby Del Sur community.


Last year they had also agreed to make 10 percent of the new homes affordable to low-income residents, rather than pay an "in-lieu fee," and to not start construction until all the current housing voucher recipients secure new homes.

RELATED: Home Developer Offers Concessions In Rancho Peñasquitos Project

Some current residents of Penasquitos Village still spoke against the project, citing fears that they would become homeless after the relocation assistance runs out.

The 332 existing homes were built in 1970 and designated affordable to low-income renters under a federal program in the 1990s. The affordability agreement expired in 2010 and the homes converted to market rate, but their old age and relatively small size kept rents below the median price in the neighborhood.

The project applicants say their rental and for-sale homes will start at below the citywide median price for newly constructed homes. Councilman Chris Ward praised the project for its net increase in overall homes and called the project "true middle-class housing that is below what we see in the surrounding neighborhoods."


Councilman Mark Kersey, whose district includes Rancho Peñasquitos, said the relocation package offered to residents went above and beyond what was required of them.

"When I first met about this project, I told the folks proposing it that I would not support a project that made people homeless when we are trying to address our homeless crisis in San Diego," he said.

Kersey also noted the developers could legally evict the current tenants and construct new apartments on site without City Council approval if they modified their project to conform to the area's height limits and parking requirements.

The council also approved two other development projects Monday in Scripps Ranch and Pacific Highlands Ranch. Both projects attracted criticism from some council members for their lack of on-site affordable housing.