Solana Beach submits housing element for state certification

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff photo)

Solana Beach council members voted unanimously April 14 to send the city’s new housing element, which accounts for 875 new units, to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development for certification.

“I’m going to think positively that we’re going to end up with an approved housing element and we’ll be done and ready to roll for the next eight years,” Solana Beach City Councilman David Zito said during the meeting.

The council’s signoff of the housing element concludes a combative process between the city and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) over the state’s sixth cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which runs from 2021 to 2029. Of the 875 new housing units Solana Beach has to provide, nearly half have to be affordable housing units, defined in relation to the county’s median income. Construction of the units is left to private developers.

Those 875 units represent a 157% increase from the city’s assignment of 340 housing units from the fifth RHNA cycle, which ran from 2013 to 2021. The state assigned approximately 171,000 new units to San Diego County for the sixth RHNA cycle. SANDAG approved a methodology that distributed those units based on proximity to jobs and transit, resulting in higher RHNA allocations for small, coastal cities.

Solana Beach was one of four cities that appealed to the SANDAG board in an attempt to get its RHNA assignment lowered. The appeals by Solana Beach, Lemon Grove and Imperial Beach were rejected last summer. Coronado received a minor reduction in its RHNA assignment.

Those same four cities then unsuccessfully sued SANDAG last fall over the RHNA allocation and appeals processes.

Zito, who represented Solana Beach on the SANDAG board of directors, also unsuccessfully presented an alternative plan last year to distribute the 171,000 housing units throughout the county that would have shifted units away from the five smallest cities.

Solana Beach’s sixth RHNA cycle housing element will accommodate most of its 875-unit assignment in the city’s southwestern quadrant, west of Interstate-5 and south of Lomas Santa Fe Drive, which is already the most densely populated area in the city. Council members have also said they want to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units.

Solana Beach City Manager Greg Wade said during the council meeting that it “has been no small effort” to prepare the housing element for certification.

“The amount of time and dedication and effort that went into this is notable, especially given the challenges we faced this year with SANDAG and getting the allocation that we got,” he said.