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The City Council voted 7-2 on Tuesday to update an affordable housing mandate that City Council President Georgette Gómez made her top priority this year.
City Council members Vivian Moreno and Mark Kersey joined five City Council Democrats who have consistently supported the measure in backing the new so-called inclusionary housing policy, a nod to updates that now have the support of development and business groups that once opposed it.
After the vote, Mayor Kevin Faulconer – who previously vetoed the policy – told The Union-Tribune he supports the updated version and “look(s) forward to signing it into law.”
The city’s current inclusionary housing policy essentially gives market-rate developers a choice: Incorporate affordable housing units in their projects or pay a fee to fund low-income housing elsewhere.
The updated policy pushed by Gómez calls for builders to make 10 percent of their units affordable to San Diegans making an average of 60 percent of the area median income, a slight tweak from the current policy – or to comply in a handful of other ways, including a heftier fee. That larger fee to avoid building affordable housing on site will increase to $25 per square foot over a longer phase-in period than originally envisioned.
Gómez and other City Council members acknowledged Tuesday the city must do far more to address its affordable housing shortage.
Last year, a Voice of San Diego analysis found the policy had helped deliver roughly a third of the affordable homes built over the last decade but that those units represented just 8 percent of the affordable homes the state called on the city to build by 2020 to meet local demand.
“I definitely stand by this update. I do think that’s moving the needle forward,” Gómez said before the City Council vote. “Is it the solution? No, we really need to do much more to make sure we are housing low-income San Diegans.”
City Councilman Scott Sherman, who’s running for mayor, urged his colleagues to focus on other ways to spur more housing development.
“My colleagues passed this measure with good intentions, however, they are hurting the very people they are trying to help by increasing the cost of housing production,” Sherman wrote in a statement.