San Diego, Marin County Heading the Opposite Direction on Housing Policy

The mayor of San Diego has acknowledged the ongoing crisis of housing affordability by pushing to make it easier to build housing at higher densities and with less parking. Marin County…not so much.
June 23, 2017, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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San Diego isn't afraid to build.
Robert Cravens

"[San Diego] Mayor Kevin Faulconer is unveiling on Wednesday a package of incentives to tackle San Diego’s severe shortage of affordable housing for people of low and middle incomes," reports David Garrick.

"The dozen proposals include streamlined project approvals, bonuses for densely-built projects, lower parking requirements in transit areas and loosened regulations for granny flats and business owners living in their workplace," adds Garrick.

Those and other reforms are meant to alleviate housing prices in a city where 70 percent of the residents can’t afford the $525,000 median home price. The reforms also follow on a promise made by Mayor Kevin Faulconer in his State of the City speech earlier this year.

Contrast San Diego's example with that of Marin County, which could soon be enabled to build less housing thanks to the State Legislature. A new bill, Assembly Bill 121, "lets Marin County’s largest cities and unincorporated areas maintain extra restrictions on how many homes developers can build," reports Liam Dillon. Because the bill is attached to the state budget, it hasn't had to face the scrutiny of the normal committee approval process.

Dillon notes that Marin County has the largest per capita income of any county in the state of California, but the "average renter in Marin County makes just $19.21 an hour and would need to work 77 hours a week to afford a studio apartment at the $1,915-a-month market rate, according to data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition [pdf]."

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Published on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in The San Diego Union-Tribune
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