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Rancho Peñasquitos Housing Development Clears City Council

The entrance sign to the Penasquitos Village housing development in Rancho Pe...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: 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

GUEST:

Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

Transcript

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.

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