SANDAG Presents a Flawed Regional Housing Needs Assessment

Written by Mary Scyocurka

The SANDAG Regional Housing Needs Assessment Subcommittee Board Members have presented a flawed methodology to calculate each city’s allocation of new housing units, which does not take into account the particular issues that each city will face.

For instance, coastal cities are already dense areas with higher costs of living, which tenants of subsidized housing will find difficult to afford. There are also environmental issues that would need to be addressed by the Coastal Commission before development can be increased along the shoreline. Since coastal cities have the trains running through them, they are being hit by high numbers. 

There are areas, such as Imperial Beach and Coronado, that already have high density. Coronado has approximately 12,000 citizens per square mile, making it one of the densest areas in the county. There is essentially no land available for development. Inland areas, especially the unincorporated areas, have the land to build plenty of the desired housing. However, there is virtually no public transportation.

The methodology shows no regard for market forces. An Escondido Council member stated that their city has streamlined the permit process. However, the city has been unable to find developers willing to build there.

Sacramento requested 171,000 new housing units for San Diego County, while SANDAG had the opportunity to respond to the state with a lower figure. Upon discussion, the SANDAG Board came up with a more realistic figure that would commit the County to 60,000 fewer new homes. Some SANDAG members, however, voted for the higher number. Solana Beach is one city that voted for more housing, yet Solana Beach is being allotted the second lowest allocation.

The methodology does not take into account current density. State law requires SANDAG to consider constraints to development, such as sufficient infrastructure and availability of suitable land. It also does not take into account that cities with low populations may receive special consideration. Tribes on Indian Reservations have also not been taken into regard.

SANDAG Executive Director Hassan Ikhrata stated that the methodology which would be presented to the Board would not necessarily make sense, but would be something that is acceptable to Sacramento.

The RHNA Draft Methodology, which was presented to the entire Board, took into consideration on-base military housing. It is logical that cities should not be required to ensure homes for service members, who already have secured housing.

The jurisdictions only met 45 percent of their current cycle obligations. The proposed numbers are unachievable. While it is unlikely that even half of these homes will be built, certain SANDAG Board Members seem determined to put something on paper simply to appease Sacramento. 

It is going to be impossible for cities to meet the submitted allocations. This will result in Sacramento withholding funds and/or filing lawsuits against individual jurisdictions. This will penalize the citizens, from whom the funds have come, through their taxes.

SANDAG has opened the Regional Housing Needs Assessment Draft Methodology for public comment through August 9. Voters can send an email to all SANDAG Board Members through their clerk at clerk@sandag.org


Photo by Bill Oxford