Ann Gardner | Via Latina
What gets lost in the current contentious process for accepting the number of “affordable” units each jurisdiction must plan for, is the fact that a substantial number (almost 40%) are for families earning $53,220 to over $95,000 per year. Another 39% are made up of those earning up to the $53,000, the “low income” category. What gets lost is realizing that teachers, municipal employees, health care workers, artists, construction workers and young professionals, to name a few, fit into the “affordable housing” categories.
After listening to the September 6th SANDAG meeting when the decision was made to base the numbers on each jurisdiction’s available public transit (65%) and jobs (35%), some key points made by supporters stood out.
The SANDAG methodology is meant to allow more families to live near their jobs in established neighborhoods with schools and other community benefits. When real estate values in those communities are too high, families move inland where there is little or no public transit and “crushing commutes.” This costs precious time driving, increased greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and backed up traffic to and from work, not to mention the financial costs of car dependency. Further, new inland subdivisions also cost us natural resources and open space.
Speakers also noted that changing the allocation to “carve out” the smaller, more expensive coastal cities had already raised a “red flag” with California’s Housing and Community Development staff who will be reviewing each jurisdiction’s new Housing Elements for approval. The implication from the State was clear: the upper income communities cannot get out of their responsibility to find ways to share the responsibility for more housing, less traffic and less GHG by providing more housing near jobs and transit.
San Diego Mayor Faulconer, whose City is assigned 107,901 new units, stood by the 65/35 methodology which he felt supported the proposed Regional Transit Plan by not shoving more housing out into the unincorporated area where where no transit is provided. “Don’t throw our goals out the window. We must prevent sprawl.” He voted against a different methodology that would have given his city fewer units.
Del Mar’s allocation of 163 units is based on the number of local jobs only, since we do not have public transit as defined by the State: rail stations and Rapid Bus. Deputy Mayor Ellie Havilland, Del Mar’s SANDAG representative, was one of two out of the five smaller coastal cities who voted against a “small city carve-out.” At the September 9th City Council meeting she emphasized that her vote was in line with the Council’s expressed commitment to the Regional Transportation Plan, GHS reduction and the Big Five Moves as well as the 65/35 methodology. Because of questions on the SANDAG calculations raised by Councilmember Gaasterland, Havilland asked that this item be placed on the next agenda to reaffirm the Council’s unanimous support of Del Mar’s position.
SANDAG data show that Del Mar already has the highest percentage of Above Moderate incomes of all the jurisdictions in the County. That suggests we risk losing, over a period of time, many more moderate and low income families as those residences are sold and rebuilt for only high income residents. The data show that if we don’t plan for our fair share of affordable housing, we might risk becoming a diminished, smaller than life community…a big loss.