Clairemont Home Turned Into 11-Unit Apartment Complex Via San Diego’s Bonus ADU Program

by on April 21, 2023 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

From Neighbors for a Better San Diego

Gaming San Diego’s Bonus ADU Program: San Diego’s land use policies price homeowners out of the market

The single-family home shown above is located in Clairemont. It was purchased by an outside investor who is taking advantage of San Diego’s Bonus ADU Program to turn this residential home into an 11-unit apartment complex:

  • Sold for 22% over the initial asking price of $899,000
  • The investor won the bid for $1.1 million
  • This canyon-rim home is in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone
  • Development Impact Fees are waived by the city — some of which would have paid for fire rescue services, sewer upgrades, parks, libraries, etc.
  • No onsite parking is required
  • Mature shade trees replaced with multiple backyard buildings and concrete walkways
  • Five units will be deeded “Affordable” for 15 years, at which time they will become unrestricted market-rate rentals
  • Developers are allowed to choose the highest deeded Affordable rents: $2,058/mo for studios and $2,353/mo for one-bedrooms (these are at or above market rates in many parts of San Diego)
  • The 11 rental units will bring in approximately $360,000/yr in rental income
  • The projected new sale price of this property will be $5.5 million — Another home permanently removed from San Diego’s owner-occupied housing market.

A Developer Incentive

The Bonus ADU Program is a cash cow for developers who can outbid first-time homebuyers, bypass Development Impact Fees, build further away from transit, and charge market-rate rents or higher.

The Bonus ADU Program is a San Diego construct and does not create affordable housing. It IS NOT — and it never was — required by State law, despite how the Mayor, the Planning Department, and the City Council have sold it. In other words, the destruction of single-family neighborhoods is not required to meet State housing goals.

Upzoning Disproportionately Increases Land Value

Upzoning policies, like the Bonus ADU Program championed by Mayor Gloria, contribute to soaring property and rent prices (increased profit potential means higher land value). This is great news for outside investors and the politicians whose campaigns they are funding.

It’s bittersweet for current single-family homeowners as their property values are rising due to upzoning policies, but their neighborhoods are being destroyed in the process.

Sadly, these policies are most damaging to San Diego’s hardworking middle- and low-income residents; pushing homeownership further from reach and creating higher rents relative to the upzoned land.

San Diego’s residential neighborhoods are being offered as the low-hanging fruit to outside investors. This is especially true in Southeast San Diego, City Heights, the College Area, and Clairemont where starter homes are being bought up by investors at alarming rates.

What Can Be Done?

Neighbors For A Better San Diego continues to advocate for revisions to the Bonus ADU Program, with regard to both the number of units that are permitted and how close to transit developments need to be to qualify for purported transit incentives.

Neighbors For A Better San Diego is a local non-profit group of San Diego neighbors, community leaders, and advocates formed to protect & preserve single-family neighborhoods from overdevelopment.

Click here to read about the lawsuit challenging the City of San Diego’s upzoning of single-family neighborhoods.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie Lou Kutch April 21, 2023 at 8:01 pm

This ADU is just one example of the irresponsible approach the City of San Diego is taking to adding affordable housing to our neighborhoods. It’s a “build anything, anywhere” approach that is destroying desirable single-family neighborhoods across the city. That’s why communities across the city will be staging synchronized protests early next month. We’ll be sending a message to City Hall that destroying our treasured neighborhoods at any cost, without listening to the voices of residents, is not okay!


Vern April 22, 2023 at 5:40 pm

More concrete will be poured, more trees will be removed and more “less-than-affordable housing” is on the agenda for Mission Valley’s Riverwalk.


Frank Gormlie April 24, 2023 at 11:53 am

Truth! Thanks. Years ago the Rag ran a series of posts about the destruction of Mission Valley. Please go to our search bar and find them.


FrankF April 22, 2023 at 9:14 am

Don’t know why you’re whining, the law that allowed these changes were instituted by the democrat super majority in Sacramento, signed into law by Gavin Newsom and supported by the progressive San Diego City Council.

We only have ourselves to blame. Elections have consequences. Vote with your head, not year heart.


Vern April 23, 2023 at 7:17 pm

FrankF makes a good point (“elections have consequences”), however, democrats and republiCons are the same… both camps are just shills of private equity, corporations and donors.


Frank Gormlie April 24, 2023 at 10:11 am

Vern, that’s quite a broad brush you’re swinging here. I’m sorry, but yes, there’s corruption in both parties, but one party majority it appears still doesn’t accept the 2020 election and is swallowing Neo-fascism hook line and sinker, while the other agrees on the rule of law and struggles between its progressive populist wing and its corporate wing.


Coachkarl April 27, 2023 at 7:20 pm

Bring it. This place has gone downhill since 2015. Liberal utopia.


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