Report updates city’s progress in meeting housing demand

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SAN DIEGO – The city of San Diego has taken steps to address the housing shortage, though “it may take some time to start seeing results,” according to a city report released Tuesday.

Roughly 30 percent of moderate-income households can’t afford rent in San Diego, and 70 percent can’t afford to own a home, said the city’s first Housing Inventory Annual Report.

Rental rates increased 34 percent between 2013 and 2017, with studio unit prices rising most rapidly at 51 percent.

The median regional home price has grown to $605,000, up 8 percent from January 2017. Median condominium and townhome prices, meanwhile, rose from $370,000 to $400,000 over the same span.

The housing shortage has increased prices, reduced options and made the city less appealing to businesses, the report said.

It noted several recent ordinance changes that incentivized development, including affordable housing density bonuses, reduced parking requirements and waived fees for accessory dwelling units, also called granny flats.

However, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer called for additional reforms and permit streamlining to alleviate the housing crisis.

“The need to build more housing that people can actually afford has never been more critical as the dream of homeownership is becoming out of reach for more and more San Diegans,” Faulconer said. “The numbers in this report are a sobering reminder of the crisis we face to build housing and the importance of tracking the progress of the reforms we’ve implemented to spur new housing construction in the coming years.”

The city’s population has grown an average of 1.2 percent each year, though the housing stock has only grown .5 percent annually.

Local vacancy rates have declined since 2013, according to the report.

In 2016, there was only 1.3-percent vacancy among the ownership- housing supply, compared to a healthy vacancy rate of 5 percent. The rental vacancy rate hovered around 3 percent in 2017, compared to a healthy rate of 5 percent.

San Diego is also falling well-short of its Regional Housing Needs Allocation, a state-mandated count that determines how many new units are needed to accommodate population growth. San Diego was to build 88,096 new units between 2010 and 2020. Only 33,159 units, 38 percent of the goal, have been added.

Additionally, 86.6 percent of new units were for above-moderate income residents, while only 13.3 percent were for low-income residents.

The report pinpointed a few positives, including increases in the amount of discretionary building permits issued each year between 2014 and 2017, when the total grew from 2,115 to 5,865 permits. Overall, 19,974 permits were issued between 2013 and 2017.

Permits can be issued several years before workers break ground on a project, so they are indicators — not guarantees — of future housing stock.

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