A housing development in Encinitas. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

For years, cities in California have been required to submit new housing plans, but the state looked the other way when local governments didn’t actually follow through. Under a new state law, however, the Department of Housing and Community Development is now holding cities accountable for building what they’d promised.

That state law, SB 35, allows developers with housing projects in already developed areas to streamline the permitting process, as long as the project complies with local zoning rules and dedicates a portion of its units to moderate-income or lower-income residents.


Cities that are failing their above-moderate income housing goals need to dedicate at least 10 percent of participating units to lower-income residents. And cities that are falling short of their lower-income housing goals would need to dedicate 50 percent of new units to receive streamlined permitting.

A new state map shows that all of coastal North County is subject to the 10-percent rule. Vista and San Marcos were deemed to be meeting their goals slightly better than most cities and are subject to the 50-percent affordability rule.

The new law is not without problems. SB 35 still relies on Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocations, which are determined in 10-year planning periods. Those allocations are given to cities unevenly, based on population growth forecasts and where regional planners think jobs and infrastructure will be in that period.

Thus cities with small allocations like Del Mar — which only had to plan for 61 units, but permitted only six above-moderate income houses since 2010 — face the same consequence as larger cities that produced thousands of homes, like Oceanside, which planned for 6,210 units but built 1,056 units.

Encinitas Leads the County in Climate Change Planning

In a new report, Climate Action Campaign, an organization that seeks to curb climate change through public policy, has given Encinitas a gold rating, making it one of the best plans in the San Diego County. Solana Beach’s plan received a silver rating, while those coming out of Carlsbad, San Marcos and Del Mar received bronze.

The scorecard looked at nine criteria, including whether the plans are legally binding, meet state greenhouse gas reduction goals and include strategies to shift people away from the single largest producer of emissions — cars.

Climate Action Campaign added a grade this year for progress that’s actually made, noting that a plan is only good if it is implemented. To that end, San Marcos received minimal marks for implementation, with the report noting that the city has not published any monitoring reports since their climate action plan was adopted in 2013.

Carlsbad also received a bronze rating for implementation, while Del Mar got participation points.

Solana Beach and Encinitas were not graded on implementation because those cities only adopted their policies in July and January.

Disparities in Democratic Fundraising

With five Democrats and another five Republicans running to replace Rep. Darrell Issa, there’s a lot to unpack in the 49th Congressional District. KPBS has sorted out some of the mess on the Democratic side, summarizing the campaign finance reports for late 2017 — before Issa dropped out of the race.

Mike Levin led the fourth quarter fundraising effort with about $1.2 million, while Doug Applegate raised $640,000, Sara Jacobs raised $316,000, and Paul Kerr raised $300,000, according to report Alison St John. Jacobs, however, leads in cash on hand, thanks to the $1 million of her own money that she gave her own campaign.

As the candidates volley for the support of local unions and politicos, the California Democratic Party was unable to make an endorsement, because no single candidate captured 60 percent of the party’s vote. Levin received 61 votes, which equated to 57 percent of the ballots cast, while Applegate and Jacobs received 37 and 6, respectively.

Also in the News

Local city council races in Escondido are also starting to take shape. (Union-Tribune)

The Solutions for Change shelter will reopen, 16 months after it had to close due to a budget shortfall. Solutions’ money woes started after the organization became ineligible for the federal funds it had previously received, and the program’s policy of requiring its clients to be sober clashed with the federal ‘housing first’ approach. (Union-Tribune)

The District Attorney declined to prosecute Del Mar’s fired lifeguard chief after he was accused of misusing public funds. (The Coast News)

Families are moving into the first affordable housing units included in a larger project in Oceanside that was initially approved at the end of 2015. Developers typically pay into a city account to avoid the “inclusionary” requirement, but these funds can take decades to turn into actual housing. (The Coast News)

Oceanside’s Morro Hills accounts for nearly 60 percent of all the pesticides used throughout the county. (Union-Tribune)

North County Transit District will get $10.5 million for new Coaster trains from the recentl gas-tax hike. (KPBS)

Correction: The California Democratic Party makes endorsements for Congress, not the San Diego Democratic Party, as an earlier version of this post noted.

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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