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City Council Committee Sends Inclusionary Housing Amendments To Full Council

An apartment building that accepts housing vouchers in the Rolando neighborho...

Photo by Claire Trageser

Above: An apartment building that accepts housing vouchers in the Rolando neighborhood of San Diego, January 19, 2018.

The San Diego City Council's Rules Committee voted 3-2 Wednesday to send proposed amendments to the city's inclusionary housing regulations to the full council in an attempt to spur affordable housing development.

The amendments would require developers to allocate a portion of a development's units as affordable for people earning a certain percentage of San Diego County's area median income.

Should the council ratify the amendments, developers would be required to lease 10 percent of developments with 10 or more rental units at or below 50 percent of the county AMI for a family of four, $53,500, or 15 percent of units at or below 80 percent of the AMI for a family of four, $85,600.

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In addition, developments with units for sale would be required to make 10 percent available for a family of four making at or below 100 percent of the AMI or 15 percent for a family of four making at or below 120 percent of the AMI.

The city currently has similar rules in place, but developers can pay a $10.82 fee per square foot to avoid offering units below market rate or to families who make less than the area median income.

RELATED: San Diego To Leverage Eight City-Owned Sites For Affordable Housing

Under the proposed amendments, developers would receive incentives for building affordable housing on-site and the in-lieu fee would increase to $22 per square foot by 2021.

City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, the committee's chair, has championed changes to the city's inclusionary housing rules since 2017. Gomez said the rules haven't been updated in recent years for political reasons and the amendments should be part of a larger citywide effort to tackle housing affordability.

"Poverty in this city is growing and we are creating more people, more residents, that are living at very low levels," Gomez said. "So if we really want to talk about addressing the issue, we can talk about better jobs, better payment, but this is just one piece of that entire conversation."

Several developers and contracting representatives argued against the proposal during the committee hearing, saying that the requirements and in-lieu fee increase will lead to steeper rents, shun housing developers away from San Diego County and fail to drive an increase in affordable housing development.

"Housing is in short supply and it's out of reach for most families due to decades of what can be considered well-meaning regulations, but decades of regulations, nonetheless," said Matthew Adams, vice president of the Building Industry Association of San Diego County.

The amendments are expected to go before the full council by the end of January.

The amendments would require developers to allocate a portion of a development's units as affordable for people earning a certain percentage of San Diego County's area median income.

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