Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Why New Homeowners Are Drawn To Otay Ranch

A home for sale sits behind a sign that reads,"sale pending,"  in San Diego, Aug. 14, 2013.
Gregory Bull / Associated Press
A home for sale sits behind a sign that reads,"sale pending," in San Diego, Aug. 14, 2013.
Why New Homeowners Are Drawn To Otay Ranch
GUEST:Philip Molnar, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

As San Diego and struggle with housing costs, the search for an affordable home is taking homebuyers into the Rangers of San Diego County. One range community is the largest emerging residential the moment in San Diego history. The Otay Ranch development has recovered from a slump during the housing market and is building out 17,000 new homes and prices that are below the San Diego median home value. There are drawbacks primarily, location, location, location. Joining me is Philip -- Philip Molnar. Welcome to the program .Thank you for having me.Tell us about the location of the hotel ranch development? What is it near? How far is the commuted -- commute to downtown sending a? It is Eastern San Diego County. It is three miles to the order in some locations. From downtown San Diego, right now, is about 25 to 35 minutes from downtown. Although it is anticipated as the development gets more built out, it will actually be a longer commute because there is more traffic on the road. Also, the Otay Ranch development it is near three jails. You have that. It is also near the border and sometimes people do not want to live that close to the border. That is something to consider. Your story focuses on a couple who recently bought a home in Otay Ranch. What did they tell you about why they were drawn to the development ? They saw home prices go up around the county. It is something like 9% over the last 12 months for a median priced home in San Diego County. They were looking around on where they could go. They found there were new homes available for less than what they could probably get for a resale in Pacific Beach or one of the other desirable communities that we think of. They decided to get a townhouse in Otay Ranch. It is more than $300,000. The thought was, we can get a new home. We do not have to be renters dealing with this. It is an investment for the future. What types of homes are being constructed at Otay Ranch ? They have single-family homes they are townhouses. Also, rentals. That will be another component. It seems that townhouses are the dominant thing. It is also the thing that originally interested me in Otay Ranch and it got on my radar. It is one of the few places in San Diego County where they are still building single-family homes. In general, community planners and what is approved is focused more on multifamily like condos or apartments. That is what makes Otay Ranch -- unique. I said in the opening that Otay Ranch is the largest housing development in San Diego County. Can you talk to us about the history of Otay Ranch? How did it become the development it is today ? Actually, it is still the largest residential development in our history in San Diego County. I actually went back to the Union Tribune archives to read old stories. I am standing on the shoulder of giants. Basically, back in 1984, the city and County planners started looking at Otay Ranch where they could build new housing because there is a need back then. There is 25,000 acres and they would use the -- is used for cattle back to the 19th century. Then a company called Irvine-based company, they bought it for $150 million in 1988. There is a lot of planning for home development and permits is notorious lease low. It took a while to start building. Still, it is considered one of the biggest private land transfers since the Mexican land grants. Still, if you look at the total Otay Ranch area, it is the size of San Francisco. San Francisco is not that big but when you consider, it is a huge chunk of San Diego County. What is the plan of how long Otay Ranch is going to be building and opening up new areas of the development? We know there is 17,000 to 18,000 new homes planned. It will be the spot where new homes are coming out. You can see opposition in the community and among government officials to any new housing development. This is one place that has been approved and everybody knows they are building down there. It should be the next decade or longer of new homes coming out. I have been speaking with Philip Molnar. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

As San Diegans struggle with increasing housing costs, the search for an affordable home is taking hopeful homebuyers to the edge of San Diego. Otay Ranch is becoming the largest residential development in San Diego history.

RELATED: San Diego County On Track For A 50 Percent Housing Deficit By 2020

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that Otay Ranch has recovered from a slump during the housing crisis, and now developers are building 17,000 new homes at prices significantly below San Diego's median new-home value of $787,000 in June. But there are drawbacks to purchasing a home in Otay Ranch, primarily the location and higher property taxes.

Philip Molnar, a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune, joins Midday Edition on Monday to talk about the history and future of Otay Ranch.