Written by Michael Palomba
The San Diego City Council has unanimously approved a new plan to increase housing production and availability in the city. The plan was proposed by City Councilman Scott Sherman, and will triple the number of units built each year for the next decade. San Diego faces a state-mandated goal of creating 108,000 new housing units by 2029, meaning it needs to raise its annual number of units built from 4,100 to a whopping 13,500.
Local officials viewed that as an ambitious goal even back when the economy was thriving, now that we are just beginning to recover from the economic crisis created by the COVID-19-induced lockdowns, that goal is even more out of reach. The new plan approved by the city, called the “housing element,” aims to increase production by reducing fees and other restrictions.
“During these unprecedented times, it’s easy to forget that San Diego still faces a housing crisis. The cost of housing remains extremely high and will only get worse if building is stalled,” said Councilman Sherman. “I am thankful common sense solutions in the plan—such as streamlining permits and reducing fees—received unanimous support.”
The new plan also puts emphasis on all neighborhoods absorbing a share of the new housing. “Some community planning groups in the past have elected to downzone their neighborhoods to prevent more housing from being built,” said Aria Pounak. “Council should require minimum production goals for each community planning area in San Diego.”
While accelerated housing development remains a contentious policy issue in San Diego, streamlining permits, reducing fees, and cutting red tape that prevents new developments is a great and much-needed change. The city has a long way to go in fixing the housing crisis, but the newly passed housing element certainly puts us on the right path.