Monday, April 24, 2006 | Thanks to for quantifying what we have known all along: The in-lieu fee adopted by the City Council was not sufficient to make developers think twice about building the required units on site or paying the fee. In fact, the only places an inclusionary housing policy is effective is where there is no in-lieu fee allowed except for very small projects.

The city’s own Future Urbanizing Area in the Carmel Valley/Black Mountain area has a 20 percent must-build requirement that has resulted in all of the units being built. Carlsbad’s 15 percent must-build requirement has had the same effect, as has Chula Vista’s 10 percent must-build requirement. These policies have not been an abject failure by any stretch of the imagination.

The city of San Diego already has a model to fix the inclusionary ordinance: adopt the policies of the future urbanizing area and require that all of the inclusionary units be built by the developer. However, we do recognize that that the future urbanizing area consists of master planned communities where the developer has the ability to meet the requirement by building apartments in the middle of the single-family housing development – that’s a lot different than building in the rest of the city.

Consequently, we will be recommending to the City Council that they overhaul the ordinance and prohibit the payment of in-lieu fees for projects greater than nine units. We will also suggest ways to increase the flexibility in meeting the requirements by adopting the appropriate best practices outlined in On Common Ground: Joint Principles on Inclusionary Housing Policies.

This paper was jointly developed last year by the Home Builders Association of Northern California and the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, the San Diego Housing Federation’s counterpart in the Bay Area. This will fix the inclusionary ordinance, but there is a lot more work to be done.

The inclusionary ordinance only addresses a small part of the need. According to SANDAG, close to 40 percent of the households in San Diego County are considered low income.

We continue to support the recommendations of the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force made in 2003 for a comprehensive approach to meeting this need. This includes putting an infrastructure bond on the ballot to raise the funds to give all of our neighborhoods adequate streets, parks, and libraries, etc. It includes rezoning the land to create more opportunities to build apartments and condominiums per the City of Villages Strategic Vision.

It includes funding the city’s groundbreaking affordable housing trust fund with new public dollars so that residential and commercial development isn’t the only local source of affordable housing finance funding. This is a problem that affects all of us and we all need to be a part of the solution. The San Diego Housing Federation will be working with all of the stakeholders to help create an environment where affordable homes can be built for all of our working families, seniors and the disabled.

Tom Scott is the Executive of the San Diego Housing Federation, a coalition of affordable housing developers and others that promote the creation of homes for low income working families, seniors and the disabled. E-mail Tom at

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