Voice of San Diego: In Search of More YIMBYs

Friday, October 6, 2017

As excerpted from Voice of San Diego:

Assemblyman Todd Gloria hailed the 15 housing bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last week as “a magnificent achievement,” but he warned that it’s “not mission accomplished” when it comes to addressing the state’s housing shortage. Gloria’s remarks came at the beginning of the first meeting of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Housing Affordability for Middle & Working Class, which he chairs.

Gloria, who sat on the board of the San Diego Housing Commission for three years prior to being elected to the City Council in 2008, was appointed in April to head the committee. Its goal, he said Monday, is to identify areas of housing policy where there’s room for improvement, with the focus being on boosting the production of units affordable to middle-income earners.

Folks offering testimony ranged from for-profit developers to low-income housing advocates, and much of what was said were the same things you hear in any discussion on what’s driving up California housing costs: there’s not enough supply and no incentive for local governments to meet regional housing needs.

“This has been decades in the making,” said Carol Galante, a UC Berkeley professor focusing on affordable housing and urban policy. “None of the existing bills that passed do anything to appreciably change the cost of production.”

Exclusionary zoning that shuts out multifamily projects, the California Environmental Quality Act — the nearly 50-year-old state law that requires developers to disclose a project’s environmental impacts — and community pressure to curtail growth were all cited as culprits in the state’s housing shortage.

“The challenges at the local level are significant,” said Debbie Ruane, chief strategy officer with the San Diego Housing Commission. Ruane pointed to a recent analysis showing that San Diego has the space to add the roughly 200,000 units it needs to build over the next 10 years. For that to happen, residents need to be comfortable with the added density.