Opinion: How We Made San Diego the Least Affordable U.S. Housing Market

This article was originally published in the Times of San Diego

By Mark Powell

San Diego elected leaders and government bureaucrats have been working on affordable housing for years, but sadly their efforts have been largely unsuccessful. San Diego now tops the list for having the nation’s most unaffordable housing market.

This may be good news for homeowners who have seen double-digit property appreciation year after year. Many San Diegans are sitting on a million dollars or more of equity. But for those entering the housing market things look bleak.

If San Diego cannot build enough homes for people who can afford them, how are we ever going to manage the homeless crisis? The affordable housing dilemma in San Diego is a supply and demand issue that was self-inflicted.

As voters passed costly school bond initiatives and politicians pushed for pricey climate-action mandates, the cost to build homes in San Diego did not pencil out for many developers. Even when affordable housing projects were proposed, neighborhoods fought vigorously against them with a NIMBY attitude.

The desire to have good schools and a viable climate-action plan should have been balanced with the need for affordable housing. But it appears that elected leaders and the public may not have fully understood the unintended consequences of placing significant mandates on property owners.