Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

New tenant protections for San Diego

 April 28, 2023 at 5:42 PM PDT

S1: Welcome to KPBS Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. The San Diego City Council passes new tenant protections meant for San Diego renters.

S2: This ordinance is really just protecting tenants who have followed all the rules. You.

S1: We'll hear why some landlords are not happy about this and why some renters say it doesn't go far enough. We're also discussing the city's efforts to help keep more people out of homelessness. This one's through new affordable housing efforts , which could soon include buying more hotels.

S3: The idea is that this is a way of creating affordable housing , although people who are now homeless could move into these buildings. Then this would be their home forever.

S1: Don't go anywhere. Roundtable is coming up next. This week , In an 8 to 1 vote , the San Diego City Council passed the tenants protection ordinance. It's meant to help prevent San Diegans from falling into homelessness. But many landlords say this will only make San Diego's housing situation even worse. A final vote on the measure is set for next month. The move is the most recent in a number of city efforts to tackle the local housing crisis through new affordable housing projects and even through buying hotels. Here to help us navigate what's been happening are Andrew Bohn , the metro reporter here with KPBS News. And Gary Werth is back with us. He covers homelessness and much more with the San Diego Union Tribune. I want to welcome you both here to roundtable. Andrew , let's start with you. So the San Diego City Council , they took up this renter protections issue late into the night on Tuesday. It did end up passing in a near unanimous vote.

S2: It also shortens the amount of time that these protections take place , or rather when they come into effect. So as soon as a tenant moves into a unit , these tenant protections are in effect and they are covered by them. Whereas the previous law that the city had on the books with tenant protections , there was a sort of a lag time. So , you know , for the first year or two , you wouldn't necessarily be covered by it. An example of of how it would help out a tenant would be if the landlord wants to evict a tenant to substantially remodel the unit , the landlord has to have their stricter notification requirements. So they have to notify the tenant of their rights. They also have to have a building permit for the renovations in hand before they can evict the tenant. So that would prevent someone from just saying , Oh , well , I'm going to renovate this home. So you need to leave. But they never actually never actually follow through on the renovation. I think probably one of the bigger financial hits that landlords could end up taking is if they do follow through with an eviction to remodel the unit or any other kind of eviction where the tenant hasn't done anything wrong. The tenant is entitled to two month's rent for relocation assistance , so the landlord just has to pay them cash money to help them find a new place to live. And for seniors or people with disabilities , that moves up to three months. So quite a bit more help that tenants will get when they are forced out of their homes , when they haven't done anything wrong or haven't been found to do anything wrong. Another thing I'll also note is that if this eviction ends up in court and the tenant is fighting back , they're saying the landlord didn't follow the rules and that the decision is in their favor. If if a landlord is found to have violated this ordinance , the landlord is liable to pay the attorney's fees for the tenants. And so that basically the goal is to create a market for attorneys who are willing to represent tenants who have a strong case but don't have the cash money to pay them upfront for their legal representation. If the lawyer knows well , you've got a rock solid case , I'm going to represent you because I think that we can win this case and that's how I'm going to get paid. That was another aspect of the ordinance.

S1: Sounds like a lot of broad protections , but it also sounds like in some of your reporting that there are some exemptions. What are those exemptions ? Yeah.

S2: Well , one example is when a landlord lives in a duplex and they live in one of the units and they rent out the second unit. So there was actually a landlord who spoke at the meeting who described this very situation where he lives in a duplex rent , rents out the second unit. He had to do a bunch of renovations and couldn't evict the tenant. In that scenario , nothing would change for him. This ordinance would not apply to that situation. So I think some of the landlords who were speaking at the meeting probably didn't read too closely into all of the details of of this ordinance. That's not uncommon. You know , regular folks don't always get too deep into the weeds of these policy debates , but those exemptions were actually one of the reasons why a lot of tenants and tenant rights groups were not fully supportive of this ordinance. They wanted it to go even further than they wanted to cut some of those exemptions out.

S1: And we'll get into a little bit more of that later. You know , a lot of this is surrounding adding new protections to these so-called no fault evictions. And we know that that's something that can lead to homelessness. Let's bring in Gary Warmoth from the San Diego Union Tribune.

S3: If somebody gets with one person gets evicted , that doesn't mean that there's one more homeless person. So not everyone who gets evicted is going to become homeless. You'll probably have all kinds of safety nets. Though. So I don't know how many people might become homeless in a city if they're evicted. But I can tell you it does happen. I have especially during the pandemic , I met people who had been living somewhere and they lost their housing. Could have been a temporary thing. Like that's the other thing. I think that , you know , if somebody gets evicted , they may not become chronically homeless , but they may be temporarily homeless. You know , they might have have a job and actually might have to go on the street , live in their car or even in a shelter until they can , you know , find another place to live , find a roommate or something. But again , it does happen. There's a book that it often gets cited in in this in this discussion called Homelessness is a Housing Problem. And these researchers found that when you look at the rate of homelessness per capita , though , not just the numbers of homelessness , what you find is that there are more cities that have a lower rate of homelessness , like Chicago and Cleveland , and there are large cities in the West like San Diego and Los Angeles , that have a higher rate of homelessness. And the difference is that in Cleveland and Chicago , cost of living is lot less. And there's more housing , though , that people are can afford. Andrew.

S1: Andrew. The idea behind this ordinance is to prevent homelessness.

S2: One thing that I think was really interesting that came up in the meeting is this ordinance is really just protecting tenants who have followed all the rules. They've paid their rent on time and they haven't broken the terms of their lease. A lot of times the people who end up on the streets and fall into chronic homelessness are people who have been evicted because they didn't pay their rent or because they have , you know , perhaps have an addiction problem and are causing a nuisance for or other kinds of problems. Maybe there there's illegal activity going on in their unit. And , you know , those types of of situations where someone does not have the support that they need to live a healthy life and or maybe they just don't have the income and can't afford to pay the rent and therefore they end up getting evicted because of an at fault eviction or at what's called a just cause eviction. That is a sliver of the homeless population that this ordinance doesn't actually cover.

S1: And , you know , during this meeting , there were some people that thought that this ordinance did not go far enough to protect renters. Here's some sound from Rafael Bautista. He's director of the San Diego Tenants Union , speaking during this week's city council meeting.

S4: We would love to see the tenant protection ordinance carry out what is intending to do , which is keep people from facing displacement. Unfortunately , the loopholes that have been carved into this policy are going to do the exact opposite. We're afraid that this is a scenario where there's a hurricane coming. We have limited resources and y'all are bringing down the levee to allow landlords to come in , use these relocation renovation incentives to trick tenants to leave , especially during the economic downturn.

S1: Andrew , what do you think he and others meant by that ? They were speaking at the meeting and I'm sure when he says incentives there , he talks about the two month rent that people would be getting. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. Well , the incentives are for the tenants , not for the landlords. I can't speak specifically to what he was. You know , what the loopholes were that he was referring to. I did mention the exemption for landlords who live in one unit of a duplex and rent out the other unit. I think that , you know , there's a certain perspective from the tenants rights space that landlords are always the ones who are greedy or they're always looking to get rid of tenants for no good reason. And I'm sure that there are cases of bad actors on both sides. That was one thing that struck me listening to the hearing. Every landlord who got up there said , Well , my tenants love me and we're like family. And I give them , you know , bottles of wine on Christmas. And and , you know , tenants might get up and say , I've always followed the rules and I've never done anything wrong. And , you know , you have to imagine that some of these folks are speaking sort of in absolutes because that's where they're coming from politically. But if you think that the , you know , the end result of of an ordinance like this is successful or good , if people on both sides of the issue are against it or are unhappy with it or think that it's not good enough , then I think that's what what the council president ended up accomplishing. There were people who were unhappy on both sides.

S1: Yeah , and there was a lot of public speakers. I mean , this meeting went on for hours into the night. I want to play some sound from Jordan Bean. He's with the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness , and he spoke in favor of this ordinance.

S5: We know our homeless response system is being overwhelmed by people becoming homeless for the first time. In fact , in March , we reached a sobering milestone. We have had not had a month , a single month in the last year where more San Diegans have become housed than experienced homelessness for the first time.


S3: I don't think they've ever equated like some kind of formula that show , you know , just how it's happened or even how many people have become homeless because of of rent. I'd like to know , but they're not looking into it at that granular of a level. They just give a number and this is how many people became homeless. And that is based on how many people touched some kind of homeless service every month. And unfortunately , it's always more than the number of homeless people who get housed. However , a lot of the people who are included in that number of newly homeless people are folks who are going to be temporarily homeless. They may have lost a job and they may moved into their car and and then they do become homeless for a while. And a lot of people who are housed , though , the majority of the people who are housed , who find housing on their own , they're able to to rent their own place , maybe move in with somebody. So they do find housing on their own. But again , it does happen at the end of the day that the number of people who have become homeless , it is always greater than the number of people who are housed and whether or not they're going to be temporarily homeless , it's going to add up. You know , and unfortunately , some people who become temporarily homeless can't get out of that temporary homelessness. And it's a slippery slope. It's very hard to become housed. Once you do lose everything and once you are homeless. And that's why there's more efforts to try to prevent people from falling into homelessness , because we know that it's really hard to to overcome homelessness , get out of homelessness once you are in. So I don't know how many people do fall in homelessness because their rent , but I bet it's happening a lot. In fact , just on Tuesday I was talking with some people who were living in the new senior shelter that the city opened downtown , and one of the women I talked to was retired nursing assistant and her husband's retired military. And they raised their rent , so much so that they got evicted. And now they are living in a shelter.

S1: And you definitely hear it from people that might be on fixed incomes. I imagine that's something that you hear quite a bit.

S3: Yeah , that was absolutely the case in this couple. They were on a fixed income and they she said we simply could not afford to , you know , pay something like twice as much if even more than they were paying originally , that the rent had gone up that much and they were trying to pay off some of it. But they said that they their checks were being returned because they weren't paying the full amount and they got truly evicted. And there they were out on the street.

S2: This is something I think a lot of folks in San Diego don't necessarily understand about the homeless crisis here. You know , the most visible segment of the homeless population are the one. The segment that we noticed the most are folks with mental health challenges or addiction. And , you know , they are not necessarily the majority of the people who are living on the streets , Even people who are living on the streets , aren't necessarily the vast majority of people who are homeless. There's also people who are couch surfing or , again , like Gary mentioned , living in cars. But , you know , there are folks who who enter who become homeless and develop mental health challenges or addictions as a result of that homelessness. They may not have had those challenges before , but imagine if you are , you know , sleep deprived , if you're never getting a good night's sleep , you know , it can be a challenging to go to work one day and , you know , finish that workday if you haven't had a good night's sleep. Well , imagine if that's something that you experience every night. It can be very easy for those of us who are securely housed to sort of point the finger and blame people for their addiction problems , when in reality , many of us , it's hard for us to judge because we've never experienced what it's like to actually live on the streets and how , you know , substance use could give somebody a temporary escape , even if it is going to harm them in the long run.

S1: We'd like to hear from you. What's your reaction to these new tenant protections that the city council passed ? Give us a call at (619) 452-0228. You can leave us a voicemail there or you can email us at Roundtable at When we return , our housing discussion continues. You're listening to KPBS Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about some of San Diego's recent efforts on housing. Joining me is Andrew Bowen from KPBS News and the Union Tribune's Gary Werth. You know , Andrew , this tenant protection measure , it's received a lot of pushback from landlords. I mean , they were probably the majority of people there , even though some people said that. How can those who are working come to an afternoon city council meeting ? There were dozens who spoke out at this meeting. And some of these landlords said that these tenant protections are only going to make the housing situation worse , not better.

S2: If that's their business or their livelihood , then that would reduce the supply of housing overall and make it harder for someone to to find a place to live. I think there were. We also heard concerns from developers who felt like this would be a financial disincentive for them to even build new housing in the first place. I think San Diego is has been much more ambitious than a lot of other cities in finding ways to build more housing , increased density in more walkable neighborhoods and give landlords or rather give developers incentives to include more affordable housing in their projects by giving them a break on a height limit or a density limit. It's hard for me to imagine that these tenant protections will have a significant impact on the number of homes that are being built. I think that there are lots of other issues at play there that are that are keeping our housing production numbers down , like property tax incentives to just leave a property in place and not redevelop it or not sell it. So I think the the landlord perspective we heard certainly was there were a lot of mom and pop landlords , as they call themselves , saying we don't have the resources of these larger corporate landlords to to , you know , give our tenants that relocation assistance. And it's going to just make it harder for regular folks who own properties to rent them out because , you know , it'll just make it harder for them to actually earn a living with that business.


S2: But , you know , as far as assessing the size of a company , how many properties an individual or a company owns , I don't believe that the ordinance makes any distinction there.

S1: And this whole ordinance , Andrew , it seemed to change a little bit from the beginning of the council meeting to when it was approved later that night. What changed there ? I mean , there was one constant that I heard from people in support. They wanted a guarantee from renters that if a landlord evict somebody for like repairs or improvements , that those tenants would have to be offered a chance to move back in again at the same rent.

S2: It did go until 9:30 p.m. and there was one of the complaints that we heard from from council members was that this this ordinance didn't go through the typical committee process at the city council. So typically , ordinances introduced by a council member or by the mayor will first go to a city council committee. They'll take a vote on it , either recommend a yes vote or forward it to the full city council with no recommendation. But in this case , the council president direct docketed it , which means that he brought it directly to the full city council without having had a hearing at the committee level. So I think that I think was one of the reasons why we saw so many of these last minute amendments when council members are legislating from the dais , you know , writing these rules kind of on the fly , they'll have to take a periodic stop and make sure that the city attorney will want to take a look at the language of a motion and draft up some quick language to make sure that that that reflects the the intent of what the council members are trying to get in there. I recall some of those last minute , last minute amendments had to do with different types of renovations that may not require a building permit. And there was this requirement that the landlord have the building permit in hand before they notify the tenant of the eviction. So , you know , it was mostly I would say it was for the most part , these smaller details or things that perhaps the council president hadn't considered at the very beginning and and other council members brought forward these relatively minor changes that they want. To see. But yeah , as far as that , the right to return where if the landlord , you know , puts the rental unit back on the market or if they renovate it , they would have to offer it back up to the tenant. I don't believe that made it into the final ordinance , but I hope you won't quote me on that.

S1: San Diego is once again looking to invest in hotel property.

S3: So every motel room would have a kitchenette. The idea is that this is a way of creating affordable housing , although people who are now homeless could move into into these buildings , then this would be their home forever. They would not. Ever be back on the street. There might be some supportive services to make sure that , you know , all the issues that might have been related to their homelessness are addressed. But yeah , it is it's it is not , you know , for travelers anymore this and it's not a shelter. What they're looking at is is building homes and they looked at three extended stay hotels and altogether they would have 412 rooms. Then altogether it would cost $158 million. So that's the concept that they're that they're going after. This purchase is contingent on getting money from the state. So Newsom has created Governor Newsom has created a project homekey during the pandemic. And it was a way of addressing the number of people who are on the on the street. At first he had something called Project Roomkey , which was to pay for hotel rooms to keep people off the street temporarily. But the state isn't invested billions of dollars and getting people off the street and into permanent housing. So this round of funding of $736 million and San Diego County itself has $34 million earmarked just for municipalities in the county to apply for. And on top of that , they can also apply for the share of the of the entire state of funding , which again , is $3,736 million. So that's what they're trying to do is actually create more housing. The other thing that they're doing is building working with nonprofit developers and they're building a lot of housing. But this is seen as a way of not only doing it in a more affordable way , but in a much faster way , because these developments can take years , years of planning and years of construction and if this goes smoothly , then escrow will closed in October and 412 rooms will be open for permanent housing , which is larger itself than any one single project that I believe that they have created for affordable housing.

S1: It sounds like a pretty big deal.

S3: It's it would be like a tiered program. And just like Father Joe's saying , Teresa Villa , you know , there are people who may not pay anything. There's people who pay a few hundred dollars. There probably would be vouchers attached to this as well as , you know , people who have some kind of income , maybe SSI or maybe they're even working , but they can't afford a place to rent on their own. So tennis would live there and some would be paying some rent , but it would be affordable housing for them. And yeah , that's that's that's how it would work. There would be there's many hundred rooms by the end of the year suddenly become available.

S1: But it sounds like your reporting says that some people aren't happy about the idea of using public money to pay for something like this.

S3: Oh , that's certainly true. If you looked at the comments on my story , though , a lot of people were saying this is far too much money that they're spending. So in my story , not as that it would come for an average of $383,000 per unit. And I talked to some people who said that that's some real estate experts. And he said , that's far too much , though. Like a guy said , that even even if it were extended stay , it would be like 325,000 , not 383,000. So I did some quick math and added up 412 rooms with the difference between what the Housing Commission would pay and what he says it would worth. And it would came up to like $24 million above what this guy said that it should be. However , he asked that to , you know , look at the House. The commission is trying to , you know , apply for $34 million or even more. They may be competing with some other cities in a county that was going to apply for this money. And and also , you know , there's an argument that like , this is what we're trying to do. We're trying to you know , this is a time that a lot of money is spent on on homeless services and on getting people off the street. It's is often what people say is the number one priority that cities should be doing. So it can't be too critical of. Of a body that is about to create 412 rooms for families and single people and seniors to move into permanently to get off the street when we have , you know , at least 8000 homeless people on the street and they're trying to , you know , get them in a permanent housing. So this theoretically does make a difference , You know , and and also , it's it's not like you can just go out and find the cheapest hotel to move into. They want these units to be successful. They want people to , you know , successfully live in them and not move out , not fall back into homelessness. And there's probably not a lot of buildings that match exactly what they're looking for. So their their pool right there is smaller than , you know , just trying to by just any building and move people into it. So they're very careful about where the location is. It should be near some kind of transit , maybe , you know , by food sources that they could walk to , you know , other things like a library nearby because these people may not have vehicles of their own. So they're trying to find like an ideal area , an ideal building. And that pool probably isn't that great , too. So , you know , they're they're trying to find , you know , buildings to buy well , and there's probably not a lot that match what they're looking for. Also , you know , when you compare what it would cost to build something , you know , like pick a location and say let's just build it , that's usually a lot more like there is something under construction right now called Jamboree , which is in San Rochelle , and that would just have 65 units Still , it's going to open in maybe in May , and that's $486,000 a room , though , on Scripps Mesa , also a new project that would have 264 units. That's $430,000 around um , another one downtown. It's called Courthouse Commons. That's 82 rooms and that's $498,000. So when you look at how much it costs to work with a nonprofit developer to build something where you want it , it is cheaper to buy an existing extended stay hotel. And it certainly is a lot faster to get people off the street because you said within the end of the year , you know , we could have 412 new rooms and it takes years to get any new project built. So what do we want to do ? Spend a little money and get these people off the street as soon as possible ? Everyone says that that's what we should be trying to do. And other people might say , Yeah , but that's too much money. But the money is available from the state for everyone to , you know , throughout the state to try to do just this. So that's the two sides of the argument.

S1: Send us your thoughts on affordable housing in San Diego. How do you think the city is doing on this issue ? You can email us at Roundtable at or you can give us a call. (619) 452-0228 and leave us a voice message there. Be sure to leave your name and what city you're calling from , and we may use your message on a future show. Coming up , we're taking a look at what issues our guests are going to be following heading into the summer months. You're listening to KPBS Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about San Diego's efforts surrounding housing. Joining me is KPBS , Andrew Bone and Gary Werth from the San Diego Union Tribune. Andrew , we know that the city is also considering redeveloping two city owned properties downtown. That's the former Central Library and an old skydiving center , which is now the city's homeless response center. Gary's reporting says that they could be turned into shelters or even affordable housing.

S2: I can recall a few years ago when former Mayor Kevin Faulkner made an announcement about about a dozen city owned properties that he planned on making available to developers of affordable housing and permanent supportive housing. So it's a strategy that that the city has been going after for a while. It's something that also other government agencies are are engaging with. The county has various properties across the county that they are trying to develop into affordable housing. The state has a property downtown also and several properties across the state that the governor wants to develop. The idea is that one of the biggest constraints to building more affordable housing is the availability of land. And a lot of these government properties , government buildings are pretty old. Maybe the building that's existing there , certainly in the case of the former Central Library downtown , it's been vacant for for quite a while and it's pretty rundown. So the you know , when you have those underutilized properties and it is already in , you know , I didn't mention MDs. MDS also has a lot of parking lots and other types of properties where they're trying to develop affordable housing and mixed income housing. But the idea is , you know , that we lack the actual land where we can build affordable housing and the state and , you know , when when that land is already in public ownership , the public gets to decide what's done with it rather than leaving that decision to the market. So there is definitely a strategy at various levels of government to utilize these public properties to build more affordable housing , because it's really hard to find just places to actually to to build it to begin with the school district and mentioned the school district. I mean , there are so many different government agencies that are actually quite rich in terms of the land that they owned own , but they have not really just made this a priority to actually get their land redeveloped.

S1: And I know that you're not a developer , but I'm just curious on this question , like you were talking about the land there. So like , for instance , that old skydiving facility , it's sort of near Petco Park and the MTS headquarters looks fairly new. But but we're not talking about like converting like an existing space and putting like rooms into that skydiving center. We're talking about probably that building coming down and then some sort of high rise going up.

S2: Yeah , well , in that building in particular has quite a bit of history. The former mayor , Kevin Faulkner , decided to purchase it. It later was uncovered by , I believe it was the Union Tribune that broke the story , that there had never been a an independent appraisal of the property before the purchase went through. So the city may have and very likely did overpay for that property. But former Mayor Faulkner turned that into the Housing Navigation Center , where a homeless person or a person at risk of becoming homeless can go and access various types of social services that they may need in order to get to the next step of of becoming housed. Maybe they lack a Social Security number. Maybe they lack an identification. You know , maybe they're eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits , but just haven't ever been able to enroll in those. So the idea was , let's make one make it a one stop shop where somebody can go and and access those services that are available to them. The criticism has been that you can't just create if this is public land. Now , public property services are certainly one thing , but what we really need is more shelters and more housing. So if the mayor is attempting to repurpose that property into permanent housing , that the goal is certainly to to make sure that it's actually housing people.

S1: And Gary , you have this story about this , the old skydiving center , now , the Housing Navigation Center in the Old City Library.

S3: So there's there's some hoops that they would have to go through to declaring it as surplus property and they wouldn't have to go through as many hoops , but tells them if they were to turn it into affordable housing rather than shelter. So I think that would be leaning more toward using that building as as just tearing it down and using it as it's housing. It's it's a very unique building , though. They they still have the big tunnel in the middle of it. It you know , you can't you can't use use it for housing in the situation that it's in now. The old library that's going to be interesting they they mean that that's you know at one time a beautiful , you know brick building. Maybe they would want to save the facade , make it , you know , look like as it always did , that was that appropriate to make it a permanent building into a shelter ? That's another thing to to think of , like , you know , that's kind of admitting that we're always going to need a shelter of that big. So with that in mind , maybe they would say , well , maybe we won't always need such a big shelter , so let's make it into , you know , housing. And we do know we need more housing. So , you know , those things in mind , I think that they may lean more toward make them into housing.

S1: Also making headlines this week , Andrew , was the city's plans to redevelop the civic center area That's been being talked about for a while. And we're talking about multiple blocks of downtown right around near City Hall. It sounds like affordable housing is a big wish on the city's parts there for the future redevelopment.

S2: It's also a requirement of state law. This the State Surplus Land Act regulates how cities and local governments can dispose of their property. And when they choose to either sell it off to a developer or lease it , maybe sign a ground lease and retain ownership. The the state law says that at least 25% of the homes that are built on that site have to be deed restricted , affordable homes , and that the city is obviously going to aim for as more something higher than that. But when you're a developer and you're trying to turn a profit on a building , especially with in a place like downtown , where it really doesn't make sense to build anything less than a high rise because of the the intensity of use that surrounds all of that property. You know , the construction costs can be pretty high. And they're , you know , if if the city is making this land available to a developer , the developer is only going to build on it if they think that they can actually earn some money off of it. But yeah , this discussion around the civic civic core is really interesting , just really heating up right now. The action that the council took this week was to officially declare the property surplus property , which starts a process where they first have to offer it to 100% affordable housing developers. You know , maybe there's a developer out there who could purchase or lease one of these six blocks and could then , you know , build a with their own financing rather than asking for a subsidy from the city. And the other element in all of this is that the city wants to build a new city hall. The the office space for city workers downtown is abysmal. It is. You know , there's heating and air conditioning issues. There's ventilation issues. The bathrooms sometimes break down. Elevators can can stop working. I mean , it's really , truly deplorable conditions. And it is one of the things that contributes to the city's very high vacancy rate among city employees , the the engineers who , you know , inspect our public works projects and the , you know , all types of of people who keep the city as an institution and running. So the city wants you know , the idea is the city is going to take five of these blocks and make them available for development and hopefully , hopefully make some money off of that development and then use that money to build themselves a new city hall , perhaps let the developer who's developing the rest of the land build the city hall for them or create some sort of financial arrangement where the actual hit to taxpayers is minimal and the city can get both housing , market rate , housing and affordable housing and a new public asset like a new office building with new offices for the city workers and also new city council chambers. Right now , if you want to attend a city council meeting , you have to go into the building , go up the elevator to the 12th floor , and it doesn't really feel like something that is all that open to the public , even though it is accessible. You know , I think we heard some desire from some council members to have the council chambers more like on the ground floor and actually visible perhaps even to to people on the outside so that you can , you know , as a symbol of this is open government , this is transparency. And we want to invite people in to engage with our government.

S1: All right , guys , we've covered a lot in this show as it relates to housing from renter protections to shelters to new affordable housing projects. A question for both of you. And Gary , we can go to you first. What are you going to be watching for in the coming weeks and months on the issue of housing ? And if you can be a little brief here. But.

S6: But.

S3: And housing. I don't know , though , what to look for. Just what we have talked about. Maybe the addition of these hotels , though , that's kind of add more housing. And also , who is this city of San Diego going to be competing with ? There's going to be more cities out there that probably have , you know , their eyes on buying a hotel. So , you know , it could get kind of competitive to get that money , though , and that that could skew just what the plans are with some you know , how much it's going to cost to get three hotels if there's another city that's that's trying to get them on another project coming up. Father Jones has two signs that they're looking for housing. The old there's one vacant property at the old God's extended hand ministry right downtown. They're going to tear that down and and build some some housing with that. So there is more affordable housing that that is coming. And it is going to be directed at trying to get homeless people off the street.

S1: Andrew , you have the final word.

S2: I'm definitely watching the mayor's implementation of SB ten , which is a state law that allows cities to more quickly and easily zone rezone properties for small apartment buildings up to ten units. Also , the cities the city is debating an anti-camping ordinance proposed by council member Stephen Whitburn that would make it , they claim , easier for police to cite issue citations to people who are camping in public , which is technically not allowed. And the city is also seeking to find a site for a safe camping site where they could actually officially sanction folks who want who need to to camp outside. So those are some things that are lots of things happening over the next couple of months.

S1: We're going to have to end it there for this week's edition of KPBS Roundtable. And I want to thank our guests so much , KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bohn , the San Diego Union Tribune. Gary Worth , we'd love to hear your thoughts on today's show. You can leave us a message at (619) 452-0228. You can also email us at Roundtable at And keep in mind , you can listen to our show anytime as a podcast. Roundtable airs on KPBS FM at noon on Fridays and again on Sunday at 6 a.m.. The show is produced by Andrew Bracken , and Rebecca Chacon is our technical director. I'm your host , Matt Hoffman. Thanks so much for being here with us.

Ways To Subscribe
People hold signs in support of the no-fault evictions moratorium in front of City Hall. San Diego, Calif. April 4, 2022.
Cristina Kim
People hold signs in support of the no-fault evictions moratorium in front of City Hall. San Diego, Calif. April 4, 2022.

The San Diego City Council passed a new ordinance to protect renters and prevent San Diegans from falling into homelessness. But many landlords argued this will only make San Diego’s housing situation worse.  

The move is the most recent in a number of city efforts to tackle the local housing crisis. San Diego is looking to increase the amount of affordable housing through redevelopment of city owned properties and by purchasing three local hotels.


Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

Gary Warth, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune