Annual progress report: No building permits have been issued yet for low-income housing in Del Mar for latest RHNA cycle

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The city has made progress on moderate and above moderate units, but no building permits have been issued yet for low-income housing


Del Mar has yet to make progress on adding affordable housing units for the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation, but the city has issued building permits for more than its share of moderate income units and almost all of its above moderate units.

City planners provided the most recent housing numbers during a March 20 City Council meeting, part of an annual housing element progress report that is submitted to the state.

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA, begins with the California Department of Housing and Community Development assigning a number of new housing units at all income levels that need to be built statewide to keep up with demand and population growth. Each region receives a number, and the local governments in that region have to approve a methodology to divide that number among each community.

Del Mar was assigned 175 units, which includes 12 low-income units that the city did not fulfill from the previous cycle, and 113 low- and very low-income units altogether. Building permits for 61 of the 175 units have been issued so far.

“The city is also in process of implementing various housing action programs to spur affordable housing unit production for those lower-income units,” said Adriana Jaramishian, an associate planner, mentioning incentives for deed-restricted units on private property.

A key part of the city’s plan to add affordable housing is a proposed 50-plus unit affordable housing complex at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Talks between the two sides have been ongoing with the goal of having a deal in place by April 2024. There is also city-owned land earmarked for affordable housing, parcels that have been upzoned to accommodate affordable housing, and a potential ordinance that the council will consider later this year to provide incentives for building affordable housing.

Of the 27 housing units that the city has issued building permits for in 2022, 26 are ADUs. All 27 count as either moderate or above moderate income units, relative to median income in San Diego County.

But the state does not have any policies in place to verify whether an ADU is being used as a housing unit before counting it as a housing unit in the RHNA process.

“We’re not allowed to ask somebody the particulars of how they’re using it, beyond the fact that it’s a dwelling unit,” Del Mar Principal Planner Amanda Lee said.

The current RHNA cycle runs from 2021 to 2029.