Tackling Our Housing Crisis

Rebuilding the Housing Ladder for All of Us

I’m a renter and I understand how hard it is to afford higher and higher rents, let alone to buy a home in San Diego. This is a reality for many San Diegans who work hard and still can’t afford market-rate housing, yet earn too much to qualify for housing assistance.

In order to ensure a thriving and diverse economy, and to provide opportunities for our children and grandchildren to live in San Diego, we must increase the supply of housing. San Diego will not be a well functioning city if only the very wealthy can afford to live here.  In order for working and middle class San Diegans to feel that they have a future in this city and an ability to build wealth, they have to be able to climb the rungs of the housing ladder.

Protect Community Character While Increasing Housing near Transit and Jobs:

I cherish San Diego’s unique neighborhoods and will be steadfast in protecting the character of our communities while increasing housing stock near jobs and transit. I reject the idea that we should build anything anywhere – that’s not smart growth.  As Mayor, I will set a robust housing production goal that prioritizes appropriate new housing construction in the right locations.  When combined with aggressive investment in transit and multimodal infrastructure, appropriate development will not only reduce the crushing burden of sky-high housing costs, but also improve our neighborhoods, provide mobility options and help us meet our climate action goals.

We will continue to update community plans so that development is planned appropriately with the full participation of the community.  I will work to identify areas where the City can cut red tape without sacrificing environmental protections and leverage local dollars with state and federal resources to incentivize more housing production. In order to encourage construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), my administration will permantly waive ADU development fees and pre-approve model ADU construction plans that are easily adaptable to standard lots.

My vision for the City is not a collection of high-rise apartment buildings in the midst of single-family neighborhoods.  I believe that if every community does its part, we can help solve our housing crisis by encouraging construction of accessory dwelling units, duplexes, garden-style apartments and row homes without compromising community character.

Create Market Rate Housing that is Affordable to the Middle and Working Class:

50% of San Diegans can’t find market-rate rentals they can afford.  How can we be a great city if middle income individuals such as teachers, nurses, police officers, grocery workers and civil servants are unable to afford the cost of housing?  As a member of the California State Assembly, I have focused on developing policies that encourage the creation of housing that is affordable at market rates to middle income families.  As Mayor, I will implement policies such as were authorized by my legislation, AB 2372, which allows smaller units within authorized building footprints so that a greater number can be built without increasing heights.  I will create incentive programs for the construction of homes that will be for sale at rates affordable to families earning 80% – 120% of the Area Median Income.  My administration will establish a Middle-Income Housing Trust Fund, financed by local anchor institutions, to provide capital necessary to build middle-income housing. This will create jobs and better enable local employers to attract and retain workers.

I will establish a civic land trust to hold land in perpetuity and provide long-term below market land leases for both rental and for-sale housing. This will leverage vacant and under-utilized public properties, City Hall for example, for development of middle-income housing.  This strategy will reduce costs and make the desired kind of projects more feasible. We will work to develop a revenue stream to continually add to the holdings of the land trust.

Protect Existing Housing Stock by Curbing Short Term Vacation Rentals:

Excessive short-term vacation rentals have taken far too many housing units off of the rental market in San Diego, exacerbating our housing shortage.  The San Diego City Council has failed to enact meaningful and reasonable regulations, choosing instead to waste time on proposals that failed to achieve consensus and resulted in a referendum, leaving us at square one without any relief. I believe a solution can be reached that will regulate short term rentals and stop speculative corporate entities from gobbling up existing housing stock.

The City Attorney has determined that short-term rentals are not a permitted use under the Municipal Code. While the Mayor and City Council could right now choose to enforce current law, they have not. Therefore, as Mayor, I intend to enforce the law as it stands. If we don’t like the law, we should change it — and I will convene all stakeholders in this debate to once-and-for-all put sensible short-term vacation rental regulations on the books.

Protections for Renters:

Too many families are being driven into poverty, out of their neighborhoods, and onto the streets because of excessively rising rents. I support restrictions on rent increases to eliminate gouging and protect the 46% of San Diego households who rent. Rent stabilization will limit speculative forces in the housing market and help keep costs under control. I support a cap on annual rent increases that would limit rent hikes to 5% plus the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index or 10%, whichever is less.  This will eliminate instances of rent gouging that have seen some landlords increase the rent by as much as 75% all at once.  Such a cap will provide more certainty in the rental markets while allowing landlords to achieve a reasonable rate of return on their investment.  My administration will increase the number of builing code inspectors and enhance the City Attorney’s ability to identify slum lords and hold them accountable.

As Mayor, my objective will be a roof over the head of every San Diegan at a price they can afford.  By building appropriate housing in the right locations we will encourage economic prosperity, social equity, and environmental sustainability while protecting the quality of life in our neighborhoods for ourselves and for future generations.