Solana Beach council approves revised housing element

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff file photo)

The Solana Beach City Council adopted a revised housing element during its May 10 meeting, following a years-long process of going back and forth with the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

The latest housing element adopted by the council is expected to put the city in compliance with a state mandate to add nearly 900 new housing units throughout this decade.

Solana Beach initially submitted its draft housing element to HCD in December 2020, but HCD requested a series of revisions, including enhanced accessory dwelling unit programs and further development of housing for special needs groups.

The city and HCD went through a few more cycles of feedback, leading up to a conditional letter of approval from the state agency last month.

“It has been a long road,” Solana Beach City Councilmember Jewel Edson said. “But working every day, it’s like that whole ‘how do you eat an elephant’ thing.”

Through the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, the state assigned the San Diego region about 172,000 new housing units that need to be added from 2021 to 2029. The San Diego Association of Governments divided those units throughout the county based on proximity to jobs and transit. Coastal cities complained that the methodology resulted in larger housing allocations than they had received in past RHNA cycles.

Each community had to update its housing element to show where they could fit their assigned units, or where their local leaders would make zoning changes to allow for the added density. So far, 10 cities and the county government have had their housing elements approved. Solana Beach is one of eight cities still listed as out of compliance, pending HCD consideration of the housing element that the city approved last week.

Other cities that are still listed as out of compliance include Del Mar, Escondido, La Mesa and Lemon Grove.

Solana Beach joined Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach and Coronado in opposing the RHNA numbers through a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court and through an appeals process at SANDAG. The court case was dismissed. The appeals process resulted in a small reduction only to Coronado’s RHNA assignment, from 1,001 to 912.

“This city and this current council still is not happy about the way that process worked,” Solana Beach Deputy Mayor David Zito said, “and we vigorously opposed the RHNA number that we got because we didn’t think it was reasonable or equitable in the region, but we also know what our duty is.”