‘We Have a Housing Crisis in San Diego – Not a Sports Arena Crisis’

by on April 20, 2022 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

For the city to give priority to a state-of-the-art entertainment complex, intended to attract more concerts and minor-league sports teams, would be a gross example of misguided public planning.

The following is an excerpt from Ricardo Flores’ article in yesterday’s Voice of San Diego. The balance of the article is worth checking out.

By Ricardo Flores

Currently, the city of San Diego is using the California Surplus Land Act – which aims to connect developers who are interested in building more affordable homes on surplus local public land that is both available and suitable for housing development – to lease the 48 acres of taxpayer land within the Midway District.

The goal of the CA Surplus Land Act is “to increase the availability of real property in California for affordable housing development by requiring the prioritization of affordable housing when selling or leasing public lands no longer necessary for agency use.”

Public lands should be used for the greatest public good – which in San Diego means housing, housing, and more housing. City leaders have articulated the importance of housing but the real test will be their decision at Midway.

As San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria has stated, “Residents who grew up here and want to remain here to raise families of their own. We cannot lose our resolve to house our own children in the face of people who fear change. That’s not how a thriving city works.”

San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera was equally unequivocal on the importance of housing when he wrote in a statement about the city’s eviction moratorium, “Housing is a human right.”

I agree.

Regardless of which master plan is selected for the Midway redevelopment project, the city must focus on building as much housing as possible.  The 48-acre site is primed and ready to go for affordable housing with ready access to transit, schools, shopping, and other amenities.

Simply stated, San Diego has a housing crisis, not an arena crisis.

It was recently reported that city staff removed one of the five final developers because they did not have an “arena partner” and could not demonstrate the “ability to renovate the existing sports arena.”

For the city to give priority to a state-of-the-art entertainment complex, intended to attract more concerts and minor-league sports teams, would be a gross example of misguided public planning.

Without sufficient housing, San Diego can’t attract new jobs. Higher education can’t attract students.

I strongly encourage the City Council and Mayor Gloria to match their rhetoric and prioritize the creation of expansive affordable and middle- income housing in the Midway district.

It’s been 60 years since the final 254 eviction notices were sent out to the last of the Frontier residents, putting the end to an era whose shameful legacy lingers today. Now, the city has the opportunity to do the right thing – provide the 48 acres for housing.

Don’t let history repeat itself.

Members of the City Council and Mayor Gloria must not repeat the mistakes of the past. They must find a new path forward to a more equitable and inclusive future for San Diego and especially the Midway District.

Ricardo Flores is the executive director of LISC San Diego a nonprofit community development corporation that funds affordable housing.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Vern April 20, 2022 at 6:20 pm

San Diego does not have a housing crisis.
San Diego has a shortage of low cost, affordable housing, caused, in part by STRs and institutional investors.


Tessa April 21, 2022 at 8:17 am

I agree with Vern. The city could figure out a way to co-op the housing here, get it off the commercial rolls while promotig pride of ownership. Models of how to do this are available through the Sustainable Economies Law Project of Oakland.


Chris April 21, 2022 at 8:58 am

San Diego DOES have a housing crisis, just not a housing shortage. The lack of affordability is very much a crisis. STVRs are a factor but not the sole reason. Too many moving parts to narrow it down to one reason or even a few. Regardless, I am pessimistic and feel this is an unfixable problem and it will never get better, at least not in near or even distant future. Designated “affordable” is a band aid the will probably have its own unintended consequences.


Paul Webb April 21, 2022 at 10:26 am

There is a housing crisis in that we have eliminated housing that is suitable for the lowest income levels through, among other things, allowing deed restrictedions protecting affordable units to expire, conversion of SROs to other uses, proliferation of STVRs, etc. The deepest need for housing, as reported by the Housing Commission, is for housing those that earn less than 30% of the AMI. This housing need is simply not going to be met by building more market rate housing, ADUs or any of the flavors of the month response to the housing problem that are currently being forced on our neighborhoods by Toddy and his minions.

I would also point out that the leading candidate for the Sports Arena site is proposing “affordable” housing units that would be restricted for a family of four earning up to $150K annually. I realize that in our current economy, a family earning this amount is going to have trouble with housing that is suitable for their family size at an affordable level, but is this the housing target we want to address?


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