U-T Editorial: City Proposal for Taller Apartments and More ADUs ‘Flawed’

by on January 26, 2023 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial:

California’s emergence as the U.S. epicenter of poverty because of extreme housing costs has galvanized state lawmakers, but the resulting legislation hasn’t had a huge impact on the problem.

The latest study to make this point was issued last week by the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. It found that 2021’s Senate Bill 9 has had “limited or nonexistent” results in 13 California cities, including San Diego.

Superseding many local restrictions, the law let homeowners on single-family lots convert their homes into duplexes or break the parcel in half to allow for another duplex as well. The report said it was premature to assume that the law wouldn’t do better going forward, but it said duplexes were unlikely to be embraced by homeowners as much as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) so long as local officials still had ways to discourage applications.

This history is of crucial relevance in San Diego, where officials are considering a bill that — like SB 9 — is billed as a potential game-changer for the housing crisis. The measure, already OK’d by a City Council committee, would allow taller apartment buildings and more backyard units to be built when a property is within a mile walking distance of a mass transit site. The current limit is a half-mile as the crow flies, even over canyons and freeways. It’s estimated this would lead to about a third of the city being in a transit development incentive zone.

This week, The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board discussed the proposal with leaders of Neighbors for a Better San Diego, which is wary of abandoning longstanding city policies without assessing their impact on quality of life, and the Building Industry Association of San Diego, which has long lobbied to reduce government obstacles to construction. Neither group was enthusiastic.

For the balance of this editorial, please go here.

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