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San Diego County approves plan for more affordable housing

With a housing crunch driving up home prices, San Diego County officials approved a plan they hope will boost efforts to build housing for low- and middle-income San Diegans.

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure introduced by Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas that promotes housing “equity, sustainability and affordability for all.”

“The San Diego region faces a severe housing crisis,” the board letter stated. “Housing prices have far outpaced inflation and wage growth over the past decades, driving rents and home prices out of reach for many residents, forcing households to make serious trade-offs to live in the region, and contributing to a historic homelessness surge.”

The region is missing 88,400 units, roughly 7 percent of the regional housing stock, it stated. The greatest shortfalls are in low- and middle-income housing, which the supervisors termed “equitable housing.” Residents in that category include working and middle-class families, older adults, college students, single parents, and education and health workers.

Rental prices have risen so high that a person working minimum wage would have to work 125 hours per week to afford the current rent rate, Lawson-Remer said. Meanwhile, buying a home is unattainable for many families.

“Homeownership is increasingly out of reach,” she said, adding that the percentage of people who can afford to buy a home is at the lowest point in decades.

The plan aims to close that gap, she said, by “building the right kind of housing that working-class San Diegans can afford, and building it in the right places” to avoid deepening the climate crisis with added greenhouse gas emissions or worsening wildfires.

The measure calls for the county chief administrative officer to evaluate options for “equitable housing” and enlist housing consultants in that effort.

It asks the director of the General Services department to perform a real estate market assessment of Sorrento Valley East and West “to document general market trends and conditions for potential future acquisition and redevelopment along the transit corridor,” the letter stated.

Supervisor Jim Desmond added that the evaluation should also include the Buena Creek area of Vista, which he said includes a Sprinter stop and would fit the board’s goal of encouraging housing in transit corridors.

It also directs the chief administrative officer to develop a stakeholder outreach plan that could include people involved in the housing and real estate business, local officials, environmental groups, labor, and low- and moderate-income people.

It authorizes about $1 million for the effort, and calls for staff to bring back a plan to supervisors by Dec. 15.



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