Solana Beach has work to do on meeting housing goals

The city of Solana Beach still has a way to go to meet state-mandated goals on providing new housing units, but projects in the pipeline or under consideration will help, according to an update presented to the City Council on Wednesday, March 8.

The state requires cities to provide an annual update on their progress in implementing the goals of their housing element, a part of its general plan. The document identifies projected housing needs and policies to develop all types of housing, including affordable housing, according to a city staff report.

The report presented to the council Wednesday noted that over the past six years, the city has issued building permits for a total of 27 new housing units, compared to the goal of 340 units contained in the housing element. That total takes into account both units that are demolished and those planned to take their place, said the report, providing a net total of new units.

In 2016, said the report, 16 new housing units received building permits, and 10 were demolished, for a net increase of six new housing units.

The bulk of the new units permitted since 2010, or 24 units, were in the category of “above moderate income,” said the report, while a total of only three units have been created in the “moderate,” “low income,” or “very low income” categories.

However, a number of new projects are either planned or proposed that would increase the city’s housing stock, particularly for those with low or moderate incomes.

For example, in 2014, the city approved The Pearl, a “very low income” project on South Sierra Avenue, with 10 units. Residents unsuccessfully challenged the project in court. According to the report, a building permit has not yet been issued.

Also, in December, the city approved a mixed-use development for 330 South Cedros Ave., which includes eight rental apartments. Because the apartments will be rented at market rates, the developer will be charged $258,000 as an affordable housing impact fee, with the money going into a fund to pay for future affordable housing projects, said city staff.

During the council’s discussion of the report, Councilwoman Ginger Marshall questioned why the city’s housing element shows three potential low-income projects on South Sierra Avenue, including The Pearl, saying that she didn’t want the street to become “affordable housing row.”

City Manager Gregory Wade said the element can include city-owned properties as potential sites for affordable housing projects, but that no projects have been proposed on South Sierra other than The Pearl.

The council voted 4-1, with Marshall opposed, to approve the update report for submission to the state department of Housing and Community Development.