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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Faulconer Proposes Incentives For Developers To Build Smaller, More Affordable Units

 June 12, 2019 at 10:52 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego City Mayor Kevin Faulkner has a new proposal on the table that would give incentives to developers to build smaller, more affordable units in areas close to public transit. The idea is to get more new housing units on the market faster in those areas, but it's likely to be controversial since it could bypass input from local community planning groups and lead to tolerant, denser developments. Joining me as Mike Hansen, San Diego cities planning director, Mike, Thanks for being with us. Speaker 2: 00:27 Happy to be here. Thank you. Speaker 1: 00:28 So give us the context of this proposal. Why is the mayor suggesting loosening regulations that until now have really defined livability in our inner city neighborhoods? Speaker 2: 00:37 Well, we think this will enhance livability because it'll create more affordable housing. We're in an affordable housing crisis, which means that we don't produce enough deed restricted affordable housing for our lower and moderate income families and we don't produce enough housing overall, which raises the cost of housing. So this is a proposal. It's an opt in incentive based proposal intended to spur the construction of smaller, more affordable units and areas of the city that are already zoned for multifamily housing near transit. Speaker 1: 01:09 How much are you motivated by the need for more housing and how much by the state mandates to cut greenhouse gas emissions? Speaker 2: 01:15 Implementing climate action plan goals is also an important goal, but our primary goal is increasing the supply of housing and increasing particularly the supply of affordable housing that is deed restricted. Speaker 1: 01:28 So who exactly would this new housing before? You know, we hear about most new housing costing over half a million dollars these days. What sort of market are we aiming for? Speaker 2: 01:36 Everybody in the city of San Diego, we are growing as a city and that's primarily because of internal growth. And by that I mean our own children and grandchildren. And this is intended to ensure that we have a place for our children and grandchildren to live in a place that's affordable for them to live. Speaker 1: 01:54 What exactly would developers have to do to be able to get an exemption from the existing height limits and build taller? Speaker 2: 02:00 First of all, this only would apply in areas that are already zoned in our community plans for multifamily development. And that's within one half miles and major transit stop. That's about 11% of the city. So it's a, it's a small geographic area compared to the city overall. So it need to be located there. Then the developer would need to go above and beyond what is required in our existing affordable regulations. So that means that they would be producing deed restricted affordable units more than they need to. And also they would need to provide neighborhood serving amenities in the project, uh, as part of the program in order to be eligible for the incentives. Speaker 1: 02:44 What sort of neighborhood amenities that you talking Speaker 2: 02:47 small parks, playgrounds, spaces that activate the public realm and make the neighborhood more visually appealing and more vibrant. Not just the residents of the structure, but people in the community as a whole. Speaker 1: 03:00 Okay. Now you had mentioned that it's owning your public transit's. What does that mean exactly? What do you define as near public transit? Speaker 2: 03:07 That means a half mile from a major transit stop, which means either a trolley line or a coaster line or when to high frequency. Best lines intersect. Speaker 1: 03:18 Hmm. Okay. So now you've already lifted parking requirements for areas near public transit and opponents say, you know, public transit, it's nowhere near the place where people can actually do without a car. So letting developers build more homes without parking spaces will just lead to gridlock. How do you respond to those concerns? Speaker 2: 03:36 I don't think that those concerns are based on the facts because we only located that proposal and areas that are near transit. So the opportunity is there for somebody to live a lifestyle that is less reliant on the single person vehicle. And we are seeing a change, especially with new technologies, rideshare of people really seeking other opportunities and set of city government forcing them to pay for parking. Speaker 1: 04:00 I mean, are you willing to admit that there could be a pretty difficult to create a transition before public transit gets up to speed and widespread enough to be really effective for all these new residents? Speaker 2: 04:10 No, I think the change is going to be incremental. We benchmarked with other cities that have done similar parking reforms and some of them took many years before they even had one project that proposed zero parking. Along with the parking initiative. We are also requiring additional transportation amenities in the project and that means things like a bike storage and ways to make it easier to live and get around the city with without additional cars. And maybe it would be the development comes in and proposes less parking then we required before. Not necessarily zero parking. Speaker 1: 04:46 No. I wondered because I know the city has had some new projects, proposed new turns out that were rejected by the local residents and I wanted to have you reached the point where you feel the situation is so dire that housing crisis, so dad that you pretty much have to bypass local approval in those areas? Speaker 2: 05:01 No, I wouldn't consider this bypassing local approval. So all of the regulations that we develop undergo a community review process just as we're going to do for the mayor's initiative that that you announced a few minutes ago. And so that's the time where our regulations go through a very rigorous review process. Once rules are on the books, if someone comes in and follows every single rule that the city has, they have a right to develop that project. So what we're saying is that once we set the rules, we're not trying to add additional layers of red tape after that, if somebody complies with the rules Speaker 1: 05:36 as a public hearing on this proposal later this month, June 26th at 2:00 PM at the Mission Valley Library Branch on Central Parkway. So Mike, thank you so much for filling us in. Speaker 2: 05:47 Thank you. Speaker 1: 05:48 It's Mike Hansen, San Diego cities planning director, and by the way, coming up later in the program, we'll hear from efforts in north county to move public opinion on new development from Nimbys. Not In my backyard. To Jimmy's yes, in my backyard. That's still ahead.

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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has a new proposal on the table that would give incentives to developers to build smaller, more affordable units in areas close to public transit.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments