Affordable Housing Mandates Continue to Backfire

It is common knowledge that state mandates, especially those that are unfunded, present many challenges for the cities and counties directly affected.

According to CityLab and Governor Gavin Newsom, the affordable housing mandate in SB 827 seeks to restrict state funding for the cities not meeting the new subsidized housing requirements. The city of Coronado is essentially an island, surrounded by water and unable to expand infrastructure since there is no more space to build on. This means that the news housing initiative is essentially impossible for Coronado to comply with.

Aside from lacking property expansion options, Coronado also spends an estimated $340K shy of all city revenue for necessary expenditures, leaving almost nothing for the implementation of a mandate of this magnitude.

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey said, “I think the state is on a fool’s errand [by] attempting to hit an arbitrary number of ‘affordable housing’ units. Economics 101 shows these types of efforts just create inefficiencies in the marketplace that may benefit a few lucky individuals that are able to live in the subsidized units but hurts the entire market overall.”

At one point, Coronado utilized redevelopment agencies, which were mutually beneficial to both the city and state as the funding for designated and converted subsidized housing units was paid through a percentage of property tax dollars. In February of 2012, California stopped operating local development agencies which forced cities to “reduce the number of new affordable housing units in the foreseeable future,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Coronado stretches approximately 30 miles from one side to the other, yet the estimated time it takes to drive across during traffic is often more than 20 minutes. Introducing an influx of residents would only exacerbate the traffic issue on a daily basis. With no property expansion opportunities, Coronado is forced to convert existing properties and units into affordable housing units, depleting opportunities for property taxes from potential buying residents.

Recently, the City of Coronado sought to expand its partnership with the SDIHF (San Diego Interfaith Housing Foundation). Richard Grunow, Community Development Director for the City of Coronado, says that “Coronado’s partnership with Interfaith Housing is a great example of a public-private partnership working. Once the project is complete, the overall look of the subsidized units will resemble normal ones, keeping with the expectation of the community.”

Matthew Jumper, President of the Interfaith Housing Foundation, said, “SDIHF and the City of Coronado have maintained a mutually beneficial public-private partnership for more than 12 years now. After the state did away with the redevelopment agencies, the city was in need of a staff that has expertise on the technicalities and requirements of the state for the subsidized housing units—and that is where we come in. We build these alliances to help the community improve the properties in disrepair and create great looking complexes that enhance the city along with adhering to the tough timelines and matters of compliance for all parties (City, residents, contractors and assistance recipients, involved.”


Photo by Brandon Griggs

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