Sports Arena Area Now ‘Surplus’ and Must Be Offered First to Affordable Housing Developers

by on August 4, 2021 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council unanimously declared the Sports Arena area “surplus land”, and by state law, must first offer the 48-acre site to affordable housing developers.

The state housing authority must still approve the new plan of the area.

Here is the process that is now involved, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

A timeline for when the new plan will be approved is not set but the city’s department of real estate and airport management said it expected the state to respond in two to four weeks. It will be up to the department to sign off on the total plan, not just the housing component, which includes the stipulation about a new sports arena

If the state approves, the city will then issue a notice alerting a list of affordable housing developers, who will have 60 days to respond with their interest. State law says San Diego is then required to engage in a 90-day negotiation period with all interested parties.

If no one responds or a deal cannot be reached, the city can solicit interest from the open market with developers required to set aside 15 percent of housing units for low-income families.

During public comment on Tuesday, several housing advocates called into the council meeting to urge officials to maximize the space for affordable housing. Stephen Russell, president of the San Diego Housing Federation, said 15 percent housing would be the minimum required by law. “The city should require more from a site,” he said, “with so much housing potential.”

Council members were focused on the subsidized housing issue. And not on other elements of the overall, general redevelopment plan, like a re-model or re-build of the arena itself.

The U-T: “but it remains to be seen if an affordable housing developer will bid on a project with such a large scope. Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera said 25 percent subsidized housing should be the minimum and the site should maximize its overall housing potential. “We need to send a clear message to bidders that we expect the highest level of affordability,” he said.

Mayor Todd Gloria has called the redevelopment of the site a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to build a model arena and create a project that prioritizes subsidized housing.

Tunes have changed with the times. When the Mayor Faucloner-led effort to redevelop the arena area unfolded, there wasn’t all this talk about subsidized and affordable housing. Now, the mayor has changed, as have many of the city council members.

Meanwhile, the local community-at-large is trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Affordable housing is now on the agenda for the arena, yet even 25 percent is too low.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dike Anyiwo August 4, 2021 at 1:01 pm

I’m good with action by city council, but I’m curious to find out what exactly is meant by “affordable” in this process. Some folks have called for extremely low income housing and the like (https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/opinion/with-sports-arena-site-san-diego-could-be-a-true-leader-on-affordable-housing/), which I think has merit, but sadly even a 100% AMI restriction would still be more affordable than most of what’s popping up around the city.

We’ll have to see if the state approves this step first though and then go from there.

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Tessa August 4, 2021 at 5:51 pm

I hope the various entities hoping to build affordable housing will look to the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland for a great array of innovative ways to structure the proposed project. They lead the state in creative thinking in this area, in my view.

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