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Fact Check: Rothnem Housing Attack

Greg Rothnem previously presented the Woodpecker’s “poll” on affordable housing to City Council, fact-checked in our October issue as a classic “push poll” with no scientific validity. Rothnem appeared again at the Nov. 18 council meeting, with two time donations and a PowerPoint presentation, attacking Council’s actions with respect to SANDAG’s allocation of RHNA housing numbers.

CLAIMS: Rothnem harshly criticized Council, and Ellie Haviland in particular, claiming: Del Mar’s RHNA number (163) is clearly flawed and based on bad data; Council has done nothing to challenge, correct, or dispute the data; and some Councilmembers (Haviland and Worden) actually want an even higher number of affordable units assigned to Del Mar.

FACTS: These issues were fully discussed at the Nov. 4 and Nov. 18 council meetings. The record shows:

• Rothnem’s claim that Haviland and Worden actually want a higher housing number is preposterous and unsupported by any evidence. The record shows all 5 councilmembers and city staff on record as wanting the lowest supportable number.

• All strategies and methodologies for allocating RHNA numbers were investigated over a two-year period, including the methodologies advocated by Rothnem.

• RHNA allocations have to meet state law requirements to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) criteria.

• After a two-year evaluation process, SANDAG selected two criteria to use to allocate RHNA units in compliance with state law: 65% based on proximity to transit, and 35% on location of jobs. Because Del Mar has no qualifying transit, it got a zero allocation on that basis. City staff advised the 163 Del Mar allocation, based on jobs, was the lowest number Del Mar could expect. If the methodology were changed, as advocated by Rothnem, Del Mar’s number would most likely to go up. The Council voted unanimously to support the 65%-35% SANDAG methodology.

• The data used by SANDAG to allocate units were taken from state, regional, and local sources pursuant to state-directed guidelines and methodologies. These data are not “wrong.” They differ from data presented by Rothnem because, unlike his data, they were compiled as required by law.

• Del Mar did challenge the SANDAG job numbers in the Technical Working Group process, and again, in several interactions with SANDAG and its staff. Del Mar’s concerns about jobs data, particularly fairgrounds numbers, were well discussed. SANDAG is reviewing the jobs methodology, pursuant to Council’s request, with a report promised by the end of December.

• The alternate methodology proposed by Solana Beach did not meet state GHG and VMT criteria, was opposed by SANDAG staff and by Housing and Community Development (the state agency with final approval authority), risked resulting in a higher number for Del Mar (LA tried a similar approach and HCD doubled its number instead of lowering it), and had no chance of passage because of SANDAG’s weighted voting procedures.

• Indeed, the Solana Beach proposal was voted down twice at SANDAG: the first time with Del Mar and Imperial Beach voting against it, and with San Diego stating it would call for a weighted vote had it passed; and the second time based on a weighted vote, with Del Mar (Haviland) voting with Solana Beach based on a revised proposal citing constraints on coastal cities from the Coastal Act. Thus, Rothnem’s charge that Solana Beach’s proposal would have passed had Haviland voted for it is demonstrably wrong.


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