Solana Beach responds to grand jury report on housing crisis in San Diego

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff file photo)

A grand jury report on housing noted that Solana Beach, Del Mar, Encinitas and San Diego were among the cities that did not meet their state-mandated housing goals from the previous decade.

Out of 18 cities plus the county’s unincorporated territory, only the city of Lemon Grove reached its assigned number of housing units across all four income levels during the fifth-cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation from 2013 to 2021. In each RHNA cycle, the state assigns each region a number of new housing units that must be accommodated over the next eight years.

“In recognition that San Diego County is failing to provide enough housing for its current and future citizens,” the report read, “the Grand Jury decided to look at the failure of the cities and County to meet their Regional Housing Needs Allocation goals and evaluate steps that could be taken to increase the regional housing stock.”

The report also noted that the housing crisis is “driving people to leave California or to move outside of San Diego County to lower cost areas of the state.”

City government leaders, who often want more local control over zoning, and state government officials, who have been overriding local zoning in an effort to create more housing to address the statewide crisis, have been at odds over the potential solutions — including the RHNA process.

Solana Beach was one of the cities in San Diego County that unsuccessfully tried to fight its assigned number of new housing units for the sixth-cycle RHNA, which runs from 2021 to 2029, through an appeal to SANDAG and a lawsuit. The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, used a methodology that distributed about 171,000 housing units that the state assigned to San Diego County near job centers and transit. Solana Beach ended up with 875.

Solana Beach City Council members accepted the report on the fifth-cycle RHNA during their July 12 meeting. Each city is required to respond to the findings and recommendations.

In Solana Beach’s response, the city noted that local zoning had been updated to accommodate 340 units across all income levels, which was the city’s allocation for the fifth cycle. But there weren’t enough units constructed in any of those income categories — very low, low, moderate and above moderate.

“The development of these units is dependent upon market trends, funding, available land and economic feasibility as determined by property owners and the development community,” the city’s response read. “While the City agrees with the finding that the amount of development that occurred does not reflect the housing need allocation, the City implemented programs and policies that supported and encourage new housing development. Absent a dependable source of revenue dedicated expressly to the development of housing, local government throughout the state will continue to fall short of meeting their respective housing goals.”

Recommendations included working with school districts and religious institutions to add housing. The Solana Beach response said that the city “is unaware of any school properties within its jurisdiction that would be available for housing development,” and that two sites owned by local churches are already included in the sixth-cycle RHNA process.

One of the recommendations also encouraged the city to support the reintroduction of SB 1105, which would have created a San Diego agency that provides funding for affordable housing.

“Solana Beach will continue to monitor and evaluate proposed legislation that would provide funding for development of affordable housing,” the city responded.