MTS agrees to build affordable housing on abandoned parking lots

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System Board of Directors unanimously agreed Thursday to change its joint development policy to redevelop empty and unused parking lots into affordable housing.

Public transportation advocacy group Circulate San Diego recommended the change in an April report detailing how MTS has at least 57 acres of land and parking lots that could be repurposed into about 8,000 new housing units -- including 3,000 units for low-income families.

“Not everyone is convinced we should ensure portion of units are affordable housing. That doesn’t make sense -- it is in the best interest of transit agency for low-income people who are the least likely to own a car to be able to live on this public land. They are the ones who will help contribute to the transit agency's success by being riders," said Circulate San Diego Executive Director Colin Parent.

Teresa Bailey, a Lemon Grove resident who lives near the Massachusetts Avenue trolley stop, says the lots are often full and has serious concerns about using them for housing.

“I’m not sure how that’ll work. Well, I’ll tell you -- people will be parking up and down the street in front of people’s houses. Because that will be their only option," said Bailey.

San Diego City Councilwoman and MTS Board Chair Georgette Gomez did the most to help guide the policy change into becoming reality, Circulate San Diego representatives said.

"We applaud Chair Gomez for championing this major victory," said Parent. "The new policy incorporates our recommendations and will help the region alleviate the current housing crisis."

Representatives from local housing advocacy groups Housing You Matters and the San Diego Housing Federation joined Parent and Circulate San Diego in asking the MTS Board to accept the recommendations.