Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Home Up

Zoning for Housing Justice
“We feel that all residents, all segments of L.A. should be able to enjoy the benefits [of the improvements in downtown],” explains Hurd. “These are the people who have to service you. Why can they not live beside you?”
That kind of economic integration is exactly what proponents say inclusionary housing is all about. 

Alan Mallach, research director of National Housing Institute, defines inclusionary housing as anything that fosters integration of lower-income and market-rate housing and/or uses the “power of the marketplace” to generate resources for affordable housing. And although economic integration is the primary objective of inclusionary zoning, racial integration often becomes a focal point in the deconcentration of poverty as well. 

Proponents of inclusionary housing hope that it will mitigate the effects of poverty by giving lower-income families access to better schools and job opportunities in less economically disadvantaged areas. Inclusionary zoning, the most common type of inclusionary housing program, builds affordable housing requirements into the zoning code. Developers who build in an area governed by inclusionary zoning usually receive a density bonus which allows them to build more units than normally allowed by zoning laws. First tried in 1975 and used frequently throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, inclusionary zoning has experienced a surge in popularity throughout the last decade. 

Will Affordable Housing be Abolished?
In 30 years not a single person has been able to explain why "poor people" -- many without a high school diploma and who self-report to the Census they can't speak English -- are entitled to enjoy the most expensive consumer product in society -- a brand new home or apartment. Or why housing for the poor should cost more than double the housing occupied by most self-supporting renters. After all, the overwhelming majority of people have never lived in an expensive brand-new dwelling unit.

The latest U.S. Census report indicates that 14.8 percent of adults over 25 in San Diego do not have a high school diploma and 15.6 percent cannot speak English well (some of whom are represented by interpreters at affordable housing hearings). If you're not motivated to get an education and can't speak the language, chances are you'll not own a home and may struggle to pay rent.

Even acknowledging the importance of education and speaking English, the majority of low-income households will not be low-income in 10 years as documented in several studies. See: By Our Own Bootstraps, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. ( In a 10-year study 95 percent of the people move up the economic ladder from the bottom quintile. Why should they be entitled to leapfrog years early over those earning their way up the ladder of success? [Do they get to stay in their low income homes if they get a raise?]

The San Diego Housing Federation's Susan Tinsky writes (Union-Tribune, Feb. 27) that "56 percent of renters in San Diego County are unable to afford the $1,324 per month average fair-market rent on a two bedroom apartment." The average rent however, includes Mission Beach, La Jolla and Del Mar. Last October the Census reported the "median" San Diego rent as $1,224, meaning half the rents are less. Also, nearly 70 percent of tenants pay less than $1,499 per month and 146,000 renters (34 percent) pay less than $999 per month. The private unsubsidized market provides substantially more housing for low-income tenants than government programs. However, it's true it's not brand new or among the most expensive apartments in all of San Diego.

Leftcoast Comment
This proposal is so wrong both morally and ethically. To move the affordable units from (4) "for sale" projects into a single "for rent" project on Vulcan, is in the name of greed only.

There is no benefit to the City, we already have an inventory of 138 rental properties available for Low Income families. What we need is affordable "for sale" homes.

There are 4 properties in this deal. All 4 were density bonus projects. They all received 15-20% more units than the zoning allowed. They also received numerous concessions from the zoning code (lower lot size, lower setbacks, private streets, etc.). All these substandard, bloated projects were granted approval because of the "Affordable units". The City could do nothing about it, it's a state law.

So now, the developer strips away the affordable units, confines them all to a 21 unit apartment project on Vulcan North of RCP, and gains 20 new market rate homes for sale. I believe this is a new strategy for development. Bait and Switch at it's best. It truly makes a travesty of the approval process.

There is much more to this story, none of it good or honest. I'll be there next Thursday night to speak, I hope you will also.


  1. “These are the people who have to service you. Why can they not live beside you?”

    Thats the intent of the law. Its not ship the poor next to the RR tracks, so their kids can get killed by the 90mph death train.

    I can't wait for my big pay out for this one. See you in court Encinitas.

  2. Let them put the poor people together with the other poor people.

  3. 20something surfers have to live somewhere.

  4. The ugly unfinished houses on Andrew, aka Nantucket, must be finished and landscaped. Shea homes did not build them, a long-gone shyster named Mike Pattison started them and then walked off into foreclosure. If it means moving the bonus density lots to Vulcan, so be it. I am not happy, but support the plan.

  5. 60's one...ok, that's cool, but this resolution amendment involves 4 projects, not just Nantucket.

  6. Dear 60's 1,

    Oh, I'm so confused.

    Shea purchased Nantucket knowing they had to build low income houses in the subdivision. Why can't they do that?


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