ULI San Diego-Tijuana News

Building for the Middle: How Smarter Land Use Policies Can Strengthen Local Housing Markets

With housing affordability topping the list of both national and local challenges, San Diego’s top industry leaders and real estate professionals gathered on March 13 for a sold-out presentation by the Urban Land Institute San Diego-Tijuana to discuss best practices from across the country which address the need for additional housing.
The program, as part of the organization’s monthly breakfast series, featured a keynote discussion on smarter land use policies and the ability to strengthen local housing markets, as presented by ULI’s Executive Vice President for Content and Executive Director of the Terwillinger Center for Housing, Stockton Williams. To understand how the housing crisis has taken shape, Williams said, we must evaluate the rippling effects of the recession, as they have driven today’s moderate-income housing crisis:
• Demand-side drivers: With the recession, 5-6 million homeowners became renters, putting enormous pressure on the existing rental markets. With this increase in demand for rental housing, there are more renters than ever expected and fewer rentals available.
• Supply-side drivers: 700,000-800,000 construction workers lost their jobs during the recession, creating a massive loss of work force and construction labor shortages since. Because of this, there are far fewer residential construction workers today per a study by John Burns.
So, how can we fix it?
• Generate a dedicated local revenue source to support housing development and rehabilitation.
• Have local jurisdictions examine their zoning codes and building regulations by stripping away roadblocks, streamlining efficiencies, and putting incentives into the review process.
• Encourage local communities to utilize all existing real estate assets to drive redevelopment that can include affordable housing.
• Expand the conversation on acceptable forms of shelter and consider alternate methods, like shipping containers and 3D printing.
• Have local communities take a deeper look at inclusionary zoning/development.
• Need to ask more of our elected officials, both on national and local levels.
Following the keynote presentation, a panel of area real estate leaders took the stage for a detailed discussion on ways to meet San Diego’s housing demand. Moderated by Andrew Malick, Malick Infill Development, the local response session brought together Lara Gates, City of San Diego, Debbie Ruane, San Diego Housing Commission, Ian Gill, Silvergate Development, and Stockton Williams. The panel discussed various creative solutions designed to provide developers with the tools they need to meet the housing demand of the San Diego region’s growing workforce, such as pilot program AB-1637.
Key takeaways from the panel:
• In San Diego, “turnover in our rental apartments has trickled down to 17%. This creates a clog in the inventory as there is nowhere for them to go,” noted Debbie Ruane, of the team tasked with solving housing for San Diego’s middle-income. “We need to try everything in term of alternate shelters. One idea won’t solve everything. We have one of the best city councils right now, they are pushing for us on all levels of housing.”
• “Knowing that we have a state-wide crisis, we intentionally placed [AB-2372] at a state level, so that we can expedite it regionally.” Focused on increasing housing supply, Lara Gates authored portions of legislature AB-2372 that is aimed at bringing middle-income product to market.
• “The biggest issue in real estate and land use development is intensifying and mobilizing
opposition in the most opportunity-rich neighborhoods, both urban and suburban, to any type of new development,” relayed Andrew Malick.
• “The fact of the matter is we’re having to rely on state legislation. Really, the only way [housing affordability] can be resolved is through the state at this point.”
• “Any form of housing costs 30% more to build here [in San Diego] than anywhere else in the country and impacts values,” Gill also said.
• “We have some of the best city council members we’ve ever had who are laser focused on
housing, however we still have neighborhoods that have not embraced density, we still have NIMBYs,” relayed Ruane.
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 40,000 members worldwide and 700+in San Diego – Tijuana. The community represents all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, visit ULI San Diego – Tijuana.
Summary prepared by Roni Hicks, March 19, 2018: www.ronihicks.com

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