Study by San Diego Housing Commission Finds Famosa Property Suitable for 78 Rental Units

by on July 8, 2019 · 22 comments

in Ocean Beach

The San Diego Housing Commission has just sent a memo to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council informing them that the study of the Famosa property at the center of much recent dispute has determined that the land at the corner of Famosa and Nimitz Boulevards is suitable for 78 affordable rental units.

The memo from Richard Gentry, CEO of the SDHC, dated July 2, 2019, stated his agency hired a consultant “to perform a study to evaluate whether or not the potential development of affordable housing is feasible on this property,…” which has determined “affordable housing development at Site 428 is feasible.” Site 428 is another name for the property.

Gentry also stated:

No specific development design or plan has been created or proposed for the site at this point in time. The feasibility study utilized a preliminary site plan to determine whether or not 78 affordable rental housing units could be developed, based on the number of units cited in a 1981 Housing Authority- resolution regarding the property.

Gentry added that the SDHC would release a Request for Proposals (RFP) within 60 days from developers. And even though he states in his memo that the RFP would be for “a potential affordable rental housing development at this site,” Gentry then undercuts the emphasis on “affordable” with this:

Since no specific development design or plan has been created or proposed for this site at this time, the specific population and income levels that would reside in a development at this location have not been determined. (My emphasis.)

The SDHC will also make a presentation to the Peninsula Community Planning Board “later this summer.” (They should also schedule a presentation to the OB Planning Board as any development at the site will definitely have an impact on Ocean Beach.) The Gentry memo was also sent to Robert Goldyn, chair of the PCPB.

Here is the entire memo – which includes a link to the feasibility study – :

Subject: Feasibility Study for Property at the Corner of Famosa and Nimitz Boulevards That Is Owned by the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego

The San Diego City Council conveyed the property at the corner of Famosa and Nimitz Boulevards in City Council District 2 to the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego (Housing Authority) specifically for the development of affordable housing on this site.

As the administrative agent for the Housing Authority, the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) engaged a third-party consultant to perform a study to evaluate whether or not the potential development of affordable housing is feasible on this property, also known as Site 428.

The study determined affordable housing development at Site 428 is feasible.

The final report of this feasibility study is available for your reference. Due to the size of the report, you may view and download it through Google Drive – CLICK HERE.

SDHC also will be providing a copy of the report today to Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) Chair Robert Goldyn and will inquire about scheduling a presentation to the PCPB Board later this summer. This would be the fourth presentation SDHC has made to the PCPB Board about affordable housing and this property’ since June 15, 2017.

No specific development design or plan has been created or proposed for the site at this point in time. The feasibility study utilized a preliminary site plan to determine whether or not 78 affordable rental housing units could be developed, based on the number of units cited in a 1981 Housing Authority- resolution regarding the property.

Based upon the determination from this feasibility- study, SDHC will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) within 60 days to obtain proposals from developers for a potential affordable rental housing development at this site. Since no specific development design or plan has been created or proposed for this site at this time, the specific population and income levels that w:ould reside in a development at this location have not been determined.

SDHC will evaluate responses to the RFP in accordance with the criteria set forth in the RFP, SDHC’s Procurement Policy, and all applicable procurement laws and regulations.

If through this RFP process, SDHC selects a proposal for a potential development of this site, such development will be subject to further reviews and approvals that will provide opportunities for additional community input and City Council review. Before development can occur at this site, a proposal would be presented to the PCPB and would need to obtain director-level approval from City of San Diego’s Development Services Department and approval for street vacation from the Planning Commission and City Council.

The need for additional affordable rental housing in the City of San Diego is well-established. SDHC values public participation and input in the creation and preservation of affordable housing that is needed in communities throughout the City* of San Diego to address the city’s housing crisis.

I am available to answer any questions you may have.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar ZZ July 8, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Great news! I hope many of the units will be studios. Private development is like 75% 2-bedrooms these days. That’s great, but the share of the population that is single is growing every single year. Studio apartments are also the greenest option, both to build and to furnish/heat/maintain.

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Avatar Vern July 9, 2019 at 9:44 am

tentatively…
• 19 One Bedroom/1 Bath
• 37 Two Bedroom/1 Bath
• 12 Three Bedroom/2 Bath
• 10 Four Bedroom/2 Bath

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Avatar ZZ July 9, 2019 at 12:02 pm

47% two bedroom. Well, at least a better mix than normal.

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Avatar bodysurferbob July 8, 2019 at 9:55 pm

this is a complex issue. i don’t think calling the opponents “nimbys” helps any unless you’re referring to the ‘johnny-come-lately’ condo owners who have grabbed a hold of the campaign to save the site.

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Avatar Rufus July 9, 2019 at 7:01 am

It keeps coming back. A group of us fought this back in the late 70s, early 80s. Now if a private developer were to build there, the city would most likely require them to do extensive street improvements like crosswalks with curb cuts, install new streetlights on Famosa, and build an off-ramp from north bound Nimitz to Famosa and signalize the intersection.

Since a government agency will pay for the building of these apartments, I doubt they will be held to the same standards as a private developer.

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Avatar ZZ July 9, 2019 at 1:29 pm

“build an off-ramp from north bound Nimitz to Famosa”

Looks like it just needs driveway cuts on both Nimitz and Famosa.

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Avatar Rufus July 9, 2019 at 3:34 pm

That section of Nimitz is a high speed road. A driveway wouldn’t cut it, there would need to be lots of engineering to get people off that stretch safely.

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Avatar Geoff Page July 9, 2019 at 3:57 pm

The planning board made this same suggestion for the project on the other side of Nimitz because all traffic will exit onto Famosa between Voltaire and Nimitz or onto Voltaire. They said it was not practical, better to make a future nightmare on Famosa. The key is reducing the speed limit on Nimitz. The limit is 45 mph but people drive much faster. There is no need for high speed traffic for this short stretch of road.

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Avatar Vern July 9, 2019 at 9:04 am

from “FEASIBILITY STUDY- The DEVELOPMENT of SDHC SITE #428 by Barry Getzel Housing Finance & Community Development Consulting
December, 2017
“… Because the site is situated so far below the Famosa street level at the west end, those lower areas within the site need to be brought up in elevation to make development of the site viable. The proposed grading anticipates approximately 10,000 cubic yards (CY) of excavation (cut) and 40,000 CY of embankment (fill), which produces a net fill (import) of approximately 30,000 cubic yards…”.

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Avatar Michael July 9, 2019 at 3:20 pm

That’s not a lot of dirt for a commercial development. Sounds like a lot, but dirt is very cheap. It’s also tested at both sites to ensure no environmental contamination.

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Avatar Vern July 10, 2019 at 6:26 am

Hi Michael, Its been represented as a residential development, not a commercial development (though this may depend on one’s politics). Frankly, I’d much rather the location be a site for more trees and native flora – effectively, leave the area as an otherwise “undeveloped” open space for the the Peninsula Community to continue to enjoy as it has for decades. Heck, it’s only a few acres and adding trees and native plants would be far more cost effective than digging up and moving dirt (and all the subsequent street damage and repairs). Trees bring immense value to communities.

That said, there is an underutilized mall, on about 60 acres +/-, in Mission Valley that could be partially repurposed as 78 affordable housing units. This is a job-rich area with far more significant transit options, existing infrastructure and access to world-class recreation. As a bonus, there’s a new christian resort being built on 17 acres in Mission Valley that could provide support services and jobs for an affordable housing development in MV.

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Avatar ZZ July 10, 2019 at 12:29 pm

San Diego’s population is growing by thousands each year. Your suggestions about downtown and MV are both very good ideas, but should be done together with the Famosa project, not instead.

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Avatar Vern July 10, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Famosa should remain open space – that’d be the most “green & progressive” path for that little parcel.
Now, of course, there’s also East County – job-rich, access to world-class recreation (hiking, mountain biking, Sportsplex, etc.), an abundance of open space, plenty of large, underutilized buildings to repurpose and, maybe most importantly, access to plenty of transit centers – trolleys & buses. And minutes to three airports, no less!

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Avatar ZZ July 11, 2019 at 11:41 am

Proles, get ye to Santee!

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Avatar Vern July 11, 2019 at 12:58 pm

There’s a place for everyone.

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Avatar Debbie July 9, 2019 at 10:20 am

And it should include a community pool…since NTC’s got demolished. Yes, I know there is a Y right down the street but the Point can use another.

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Avatar Judy Swink July 9, 2019 at 1:16 pm

The Housing Commission is mandated to provide affordable housing for low- to middle-income residents. The categories of those who would qualify for affordable are: Low-Income — Median family income less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI); Moderate-Income — Median family income at least 50 percent and less than 80 percent of the area median income (AMI); and Middle-Income — Median family income at least 80 percent and less than 120 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The current AMI, calculated by HUD, is $86,300 for SD County. Low Income people and families then, would be at or below an annual income of $43,150. You can do the math on the others but it’s actually more complex because it’s also based on the number of family members. Here’s a good source to better understand. https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/sdhcd/rental-assistance/income-limits-ami.html

The City of SD has a page explaining what defines affordable housing and states that the current (date not indicated) AMI for a family of 4 in the City of SD is $63,400. https://www.sandiego.gov/housing/resources/whatis

I know this comment is not directly related to whether or not affordable housing shouldn’t be built at Famosa Canyon but I believe many don’t understand exactly what constitutes affordable housing. It’s not all Section 8 rentals, and it includes for sale units which I suspect these may be, if not a mix.

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Avatar Geoff Page July 9, 2019 at 1:28 pm

This project has been promoted as “workforce housing.” This is housing for people who work in the community but can’t afford to live here like police officers, teachers, nurses, etc. This idea appeared to have been generated in places like Vail, CO when the people who work in the resort had to live 30 or 40 miles away and drive back and forth to work in rough weather conditions. This is not the case in Point Loma, more affordable housing in only some miles away. I think the term has been used to make it more palatable for now but the highlighted quote in the article about income was very chilling. They had said no Section 8 and they said all the units were to be rentals with rent control as part of the development agreement. It will be interesting to see what is actually proposed.

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Avatar Peter from South O July 10, 2019 at 9:31 am

Not sure if the City is defining “workforce housing” the same way as the State does, but here’s a description of the defunct grant program for such:

http://www.hcd.ca.gov/grants-funding/archive/whrp.shtml

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Avatar Geoff Page July 10, 2019 at 9:57 am

Here is part of what I wrote in a Rag article explaining how the Housing Commission sees it:
https://obrag.org/2018/05/special-hearing-on-famosa-nimitz-property-to-be-held-by-peninsula-planners-june-14/

The best question was about how it would be decided who gets one of the 78 units. It is apparently based on income levels. A family of four with certain level of income can apply and qualify for units with rents that are lower than the existing market value. The income level would have to be below an index of the Area Medium Income or AMI. It appeared that the project is aiming for people at 80 percent of the AMI but may contain a mix of people in the 65 or 70 percent categories. The SDHC said it will not include people in the lowest categories considered as “Extremely Low Income.” Go to this link to see the chart.

The charts are here: http://www.sdhc.org/uploadedFiles/Rental_Assistance/pdfs/AMIIncome-RentChart2017.pdf

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Avatar Roy McMakin July 10, 2019 at 5:59 pm

Regarding “Work Force Housing”, I don’t know about this specific situation, but in Uptown developers have been using that description of the market rate residential units they are building to distinguish them from “luxury housing”. I see it as similar to using the description “natural” for marketing food products. Its a loose and unregulated term that can either be used in a meaningful way, or cynically. I would be concerned it could simply be code for “market rate” but not too fancy.

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Avatar Vern July 11, 2019 at 6:59 am

Agreed.
I’ve browsed quite a few docs (thousands of pages at least) from Centre City Development Corp and its “finely tuned” replacement, Civic San Diego.
Developers and most anyone who builds in SD tend to use lots of “crafted” terms, taglines, affectations and schemes to make a project appear more appealing. The Green Build at Terminal 2 was described in pre-bid docs as a new “…destination where residents will flock to spend weekends shopping and dining…” (yep, it’s still a flippin’ airport). Vantage Pointe (DTSD) would “…provide the SDPD with thousands of additional eyes and ears – keeping SD more safe…” Crap like that. (I seem to recall The Rey developers using similar talking points – 430sf studios currently go for around $2k/month – now that’s luxury). More likely with the upcoming “very low income”, 431 unit “220 West Broadway” high rise (with open air cafes, enclosed dog park, pool, spa, fire pits, shade trees and open space, no less) replacing the DTSD Courthouse. 87 units (20% of total) are proposed for VLI.
Regardless, “Work Force Housing” appears to be just more malleable lexicon developers pull out of their behinds as sales tools.

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