In San Diego’s search for additional housing, ‘unlimited’ height, overcrowding is showing results

Construction began this week at 901 Washington Street in Mission Hills, where the developer is named Suhill is considered Builds 54 studio apartments. It resembles the design of each unit to a Swiss Army knife, with built-in tables and beds that fold into the walls.

The project would not have been possible without Complete Communities, San Diego’s most aggressive attempt to date to encourage high-density housing near public transportation.

Confirmed By City Council in November 2020, just one month before Mayor Kevin Poconer and five councilors left office, Complete Communities allows developers to build apartments with unlimited density and height if they agree to set aside a much larger portion of homes as affordable housing than would otherwise be required.

The plan is designed to withstand political and neighborhood opposition to individual projects, allow developers to bypass the planning committee and city council and obtain building permits directly from city employees. The result was rapid approval of larger projects with smaller, cheaper homes.

Sites designated for detached houses are not eligible for entire communities, no matter how close they are to public transportation.

Related: With ‘Whole Communities’, Poconer is pushing one last housing plan

Nachshab said his project, which does not include off-street parking, would open up the Mission Hills to younger professionals who do not want the expense of owning a car and cannot afford the expensive family homes that dominate the neighborhood.

“What we’re trying to do is give them a chance to live in a thriving and vibrant neighborhood with tons of affordable public services,” he said.

Four projects Approved under entire communities, with another 10 awaiting approval and more popping up every month. And if the goal of the program was to build more housing without a long and expensive process of updating the designation laws, the early results show it works.

In total, the 14 projects include 864 homes – 211 of them with reasonable rent guarantees and reasonable guarantees. Renters with low or medium incomes. If the sites had been built according to their official designation, they would have allowed 286 homes.

Unlimited height may raise pictures of skyscrapers, but most projects are eight stories or less. Higher projects raise costly building code requirements that are likely to make most of them unworkable. Complete Communities also requires a more cumbersome approval process for buildings over 95 feet.

Five of the sites, including Nachshab’s in Mission Hills, are unlikely to include affordable housing without entire communities because they are designed for less than 10 homes. This makes them exempt from city ownership Inclusive affordable housing ordinanceRequiring developers to set aside 10% of project homes as available for low-income tenants or pay a fee to support the construction of affordable housing elsewhere.

Nakhshav said that adhering to the low-density areas of the site would force him to target only the richest of the apartment buyers.

“I (will) have to build high-class luxury just to restore my initial base into the assets,” said the reputed. “It does not add value to our community. It does not activate our community.”

Suhill is considered to be standing in front of the construction site of his 54-unit apartment building in Mission Hills, April 14, 2022.

Andrew Bowen

Suhill is considered to be standing in front of the construction site of his 54-unit apartment building in Mission Hills, April 14, 2022.

And the program is proving to be attractive not only to market developers but also to affordable housing developers. ShoreLINEThe 126-unit affordable housing complex under construction near the Grantville trolley station is another Complete Communities project.

Marie Allen, the developer’s project manager, Affirmed Housing, said it was not the proposal of unlimited height or density that benefited the project. This was a relief from the development impact fee, which the municipality charges the developers for each house they build. The funds help pay for neighborhood infrastructure projects.

Complete Communities exempts reasonably priced homes that are limited in rent, or any unit that covers an area of ​​500 square feet and below, from the need to pay development impact commissions. Instead, each project is charged a “neighborhood improvement fee” according to the size of the lot. Homes at market prices greater than 500 square feet are awarded a Sliding discount On development impact commissions.

Related: Getting to Grantville: More Affordable Housing … and Wider Roads?

Allen said the savings of about $ 1 million helped greatly when filing a state tax credit and allowed the project to complete its funding and start construction much earlier.

“The savings provided by Complete Communities meant we needed less subsidy from the state,” Allen said. “And the less subsidy we seek from the state, the more competitive we are. If we are not competitive, we will have to wait another six to nine months (to apply for a tax credit) again.”

Also, among the projects of the entire communities:

  • 3090 Polk Ave.The former site of MissionGathering Church and The Irenic Concert Hall, where Streamline Development Group is planning 137 apartments that it says will offer a “whole new experience of working from home.”
  • 4222 Georgia St.There, the ground floor apartment and yard will be replaced with 31 six-story apartments with two parking spaces.
  • 1959 Harrison Ave in Logan Heights, where a single-family home will be replaced with 32 apartments. The site is a three minute walk to the 25 and commercial carriage station.
Comprehensive fencing A single-family home in North Park that is due to be replaced with a six-story apartment building, April 14, 2022.

Andrew Bowen

Comprehensive fencing A single-family home in North Park that is due to be replaced with a six-story apartment building, April 14, 2022.

The program has also led to some policy influences that go against intuition. The number of reasonably priced homes limited by rent that an entrepreneur must include under entire communities is based on the official designation of the site. But the potential for unlimited density makes this designation irrelevant, at least in terms of the total number of homes allowed.

This means, at least in theory, that lower-density zoning will be more attractive to developers looking to use entire communities, because that would translate to at least rent-limited homes rather than higher-density designation. In practice, it is still unclear whether the program is used more on sites designed for lower density.

Related: Coronado is still waiting for California to bomb the housing program

While entire communities are proving to be effective in building more housing, it is also provoking opposition among residents who oppose change and growth in their neighborhoods.

This opposition occurs in Normal Heights, where developer Seamus Garland plans to build a seven-story apartment building, 175 housing units at the intersection of Adams Avenue and 35th Street. Normal-height community planning group Voted earlier this month in opposition to the project.

The residents at the planning group meeting on April 5 blew up the proposal as too high, too crowded and without parking. Management member Frances Frischt asked; “What does this mean for the community?”

A resident of Adam Deutsch said: “This project just does not fit into the community program.”

Processing shows the exterior of a seven-story apartment building, 175 housing units proposed on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.

It’s Greenfield

Processing shows the exterior of a seven-story apartment building, 175 housing units proposed on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.

Opposition grew with the understanding that the project would pay a small portion of the development impact fee that would normally be charged since almost all 175 apartments are 500 square feet and below. Garland estimates the project would pay a little less than $ 326,000 in neighborhood improvement fees and development impact fees.

Garland said that without the Complete Communities discount, an equivalent project would pay about $ 2 million in impact fees. But, since the area limits the site to only 26 homes, a project that meets this density limit will pay about $ 338,000. The fees will be significantly lower for a purely commercial building, such as a convenience store or fast food restaurant, which Garland says is its only economic alternative.

Garland’s presentation The planning group in March had what motivated the neighborhood’s opposition. The presentation was not required, but he says he thinks neighbors deserve to know what’s going on.

“I knew why I was coming in,” Garland said. “It’s a good forum to answer everyone’s questions. At the very least I owe it to the community.”

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