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Quality of Life

Under pressure from state, Coronado City Council approves new housing element

The Coronado City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a new housing plan that officials hope will bring the city into compliance with state law.

The new "housing element" identifies 10 sites where the city has pledged to zone for higher density. The sites include a church, a childcare center, a grocery store and the city's police department.

Two years ago, the city adopted a housing element that planned for only a third of the homes that state and regional planners had deemed necessary to meet the city's housing needs. The move made Coronado one of the most flagrant violators of California's affordable housing laws.


Late last year, state officials sent Coronado a sternly worded letter warning there would be consequences for failing to adopt a housing element that meets state standards, potentially including fines between $10,000 and $100,000 per month for persistent noncompliance. Since then, city and state leaders have negotiated over the new housing element.

Dozens of residents attended Tuesday's council meeting, many of them raising concerns about the impacts the new housing could have on parking and traffic. A handful voiced support for the housing plan, saying it would create more opportunities for Coronado's teachers, police officers and firefighters to live in the city where they work.

Councilmember Casey Tanaka said he shared many of his constituents' concerns, but that it was in the city's best interest to follow the law.

"We're all sitting here because the state creates the process that we have to follow," Tanaka said. "Your elected officials, your appointed officials — we have to work within those parameters."

Among the 10 sites the city identified for new housing is the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, where the city says the Navy plans to build 374 military housing units. Historically, state officials have refused to count military barracks toward a city's housing stock. But Coronado argued its military bases were the prime reason it had been ordered to plan for so much housing, and that it was unfair to disregard its military housing.


Beyond the 10 sites for new housing, Coronado also assumes homeowners will build nearly 200 accessory dwelling units in their backyards. The city is also counting on 80% of homeowners who have "carriage houses" — small secondary units that lack kitchens — to add kitchens to convert them into full-fledged homes.

Resident Dave Oden told the council he thought those assumptions were overly generous, given Coronado's strict regulation of accessory dwelling units and the high cost of renovating a unit to add kitchens.

"I know people who have put carriage houses up, and I know how much money they've spent," Oden said. "Now they're going to go back in, they're going to rip down walls and do all this stuff? I think if we're lucky, that number is probably closer to 40 or 50%."