New Building Industry Association Chief: Cities 'Need To Step Up' On Housing
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego county's building industry is in a moment of transition. Large developments of single family homes are increasingly rare as the county runs out of vacant land. And as the government seeks to concentrate growth in more urban areas, the county's building industry association, which represents developers is also in transition to a new CEO. Laurie Holt filer will take over that job, come July 6th. And she joins me now to discuss what that means. Laurie welcome. Speaker 2: 00:29 Hey Andrew, glad to glad to be here. You've been Speaker 1: 00:32 In your current position, which is leading this San Diego chapter of habitat for humanity for nine years. Now, what interested you in this new job? Speaker 2: 00:40 Well, and the nine years that I've been at habitat for humanity, it we've become increasingly aware of how long it takes to build housing and even, uh, trying to build 10 units in an urban core area could take up to two years to get permits. And so, um, we know that we're not building enough. I mean, habitat, we have 500 people that will show up for an orientation for 10 homes, which shows you how desperate people are and how, but the shortage there's a severe supply problem. Speaker 1: 01:17 You will be the first woman to lead the building industry association. You'll also, you're also one of the relatively few affordable housing developers to take on a leadership role. Most of the past leaders have been market rate developers. How significant do you think those two things are? Speaker 2: 01:33 Uh, I, well, it's pretty exciting to be the first, uh, first, uh, female CEO. Um, there's a lot of, there's not many CEOs in many industries at all. So for the building industry association to lean in and put their faith in a female CEO is really pretty exciting. And then on the affordable side, um, I passionately, I learned that, uh, as, as a mayor for the city of Escondido, that, um, you may want to vote for libraries and, and building out the city and having recreation programs, but it so that people can make better decisions for their lives, but it's not until a family has a home that they can call their own that they're really able to thrive. So I became passionate about housing while I was the mayor for the city of Escondido and it's low income housing, but it's also the huge missing middle, uh, you know, somebody just earning firefighter, teachers, nurses, earning a really, really good wage and to find that they can not buy a home or, or live in an affordable, um, whether it's rental or home ownership to be able to have affordable housing is really, really, uh, not good for our community fabric for all of our cities. Speaker 1: 02:50 The current CEO bore of incl led the BIA for 13 years and he was never shy about sharing his unfiltered opinions. Shall we say frequently criticizes organized labor, uh, environmental groups sometimes. Do you think you'll do the same? Speaker 2: 03:05 Um, that's not my style. I don't, I don't think they, uh, that's not my style. So, um, I have to lead and, and push and I am persistent. I listen, uh, it has just be a little, it'll be different Speaker 1: 03:20 Berkeley and Sacramento both recently moved to legalize fourplexes or four unit apartment buildings on lots where currently you can only build a detached house and they're doing this as a means of both increasing the housing supply, but also to combat racial segregation. Do you think San Diego should do the same? Speaker 2: 03:39 I think that that's one solution that should be considered it, you know, there's lots and lots of op uh, solutions and opportunities. I think that we have to try all of them. I think more so we have to look at an attitude of San Diego. We want to house our own. Uh, and you know, most of the folks that are here in San Diego are our children and our grandchildren. And I think, uh, we'd like to see them be able to thrive in our, in our own communities. In our cities. Speaker 1: 04:06 There's been a battle as of late between the state government and local governments over who decides how much housing should be built and where, and I want to read you a comment from Liza, Hepner the mayor of Solana beach. She said recently that cities should be allowed to preserve their uniqueness through local zoning authority and that she would like to zone for more housing near public transit, but it's not always possible. What are your thoughts on, on those comments and this push and pull between state and local control. Speaker 2: 04:36 It is a push in a pool. And I really think that, um, cities can solve the housing problem themselves, but they need to step up and start doing it. If they, if they solve the problem, then the state would not have to mess in local politics. Speaker 1: 04:55 What needs to change in order to make housing more affordable for working and middle-class San Diego wins. Speaker 2: 05:01 We need to increase the supply of housing and how, yeah. We're only building, uh, less than half of what we should be building every year. And so there's a cumulative deficit. And so how do we build more housing? You have councils that, uh, that empower their, or their counters to approve, approve permits. You have the city councils themselves voting to approve housing. And, uh, and then there's all, there's all kinds of other challenges, uh, trying to build the house, uh, with an increase in materials costs. Um, there's lots and lots of challenges, but we have to take these one step at a time and figure out how, how as a society, we have to figure out how to improve the supply of housing. Speaker 1: 05:47 You think about this big idea of shifting our growth from the old and more traditional, uh, sprawling development in, in the back country or in undeveloped areas and, and funneling it, or focusing it more in, in more urban areas is this feasible. And can we get enough people on board to actually make sure that when those fights over density in, in, you know, down the street happen, that, uh, folks are willing to say yes, Speaker 2: 06:15 That will be an interesting conversation as we move forward. Do we need housing of all types? Uh, there are lots of choices. Uh, there could be a lot of housing available if, uh, if that, um, family are seniors that are living in large phones, we're able to sell their home. That would make a different type of home available for them. So we need housing of all types in, uh, for lots of different folks. Okay. Speaker 1: 06:44 I've been speaking with Lori Holt filer. She's the incoming chief of the building industry association of San Diego county. Laurie, thanks for joining us, Andrew.