San Diego Mayor Introduces Bold Plan to Combat Housing Crisis

To tackle the escalating housing crisis in San Diego, Mayor Todd Gloria has unveiled a groundbreaking program aimed at simplifying the construction process for developers keen on building close to public transit systems.

This initiative, dubbed “Complete Communities Now,” was showcased at a press event held at a construction site in North Park, where a new apartment complex at 2911 Adams Avenue is set to bring seventy-two new homes to the area.

The mayor’s strategy is to cut through the red tape that has traditionally slowed down housing projects, particularly those near essential public transportation hubs. By doing so, Gloria aims to address the city’s dire need for more affordable living spaces—a challenge that has been decades in the making.

“Complete Communities Now” springs from an executive order signed by Gloria, which sets the stage for his ambitious housing policies announced before his State of the City address in January. The program is designed to expedite the construction of housing units by significantly reducing the permit review period from what could stretch into years down to just 30 days after submission.

This initiative is a beacon of hope for many San Diegans caught in the financial gap between qualifying for low-income housing and affording market-rate homes. Mayor Gloria emphasized the urgency of providing housing solutions for this demographic, stating, “What I increasingly hear from San Diegans is they need housing for themselves, but they earn too much for that low-income housing. But they don’t make enough for market-rate housing.”

Lori Pfeiler, CEO of the Building Industry Association of San Diego, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the importance of building homes for middle-income residents to maintain a sense of community in San Diego.

Since its inception in December 2020, “Complete Communities” has facilitated the issuance of 22 building permits, resulting in the creation of 1,600 homes, including 280 affordable units. The program’s recent update promises even more efficiency, with a new requirement to reduce processing times for 100% affordable housing projects to no more than 30 days.

Impact Housing, the developer behind the Adams Avenue project, has praised the city’s new policies for creating an attractive investment landscape in San Diego. CEO Drew Orenstein shared that his company is currently developing 1000 units under the new plan, targeting essential workers in the military, healthcare, and public safety sectors.

While some critics express concerns over potential infrastructure strain and increased congestion from new high-density housing developments, Mayor Gloria and Pfeiler are confident in San Diego’s capacity to accommodate the growth. They argue that the benefits of expanding housing options will extend to the entire community, even those who may not directly benefit from the new units.

The announcement of this executive order comes at a critical time, as Mayor Gloria faces re-election. When questioned about the timing, he attributed past delays in policy implementation to staffing shortages, emphasizing his commitment to addressing San Diego’s housing crisis as a top priority.

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