SANDAG Votes To Maintain Coronado’s New Housing Quota At 1,001 - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

SANDAG Votes To Maintain Coronado’s New Housing Quota At 1,001

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 1:17 pm | Updated: 1:32 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2019.

Politics played at the regional level isn’t for the squeamish, a concept confirmed Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). Specifically, the issue was the State of California’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Cycle 6 Plan, which dictates how many new, affordable homes must be built in each of the 18 cities in San Diego County and in unincorporated San Diego County. The overall concept is handed down from the California State Legislature, to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), with the finer details arrived upon at the regional level, in this case SANDAG.

Going into the Sept. 6 meeting, the City of Coronado was faced with a 2,000 percent increase in their housing allotment for Cycle 6, as the SANDAG RHNA Sub-Committee had determined the city’s targeted goal was 1,001 new housing units, to be constructed in the time span of 2021-2029. In hard numbers, the new-unit construction goal in Cycles 4 and 5 were 50 and 64 respectively. Despite lobbying from Mayor Richard Bailey, who was a member of the RHNA Sub-committee, the new housing units number dipped at one point, but was reinstated to the four-digit range.

Despite well-crafted correspondence prepared by City Director of Community Development, Redevelopment Services and Housing Rich Grunow for Bailey’s signature, and sent to SANDAG representatives, Coronado’s pleas for a smaller housing allotment essentially fell on deaf ears. Included in the points cited by Grunow were the 2,000 percent allotment increase cited above, in addition to:

The proposed 1,001 new units would represent an approximate 10 percent increase in Coronado’s housing stock, currently at 9,740 total housing units, over just an eight-year period.

Although the City of Coronado occupies 7.7 square miles of land, 5.5 square miles of that total (71 percent) are owned by the U.S. Navy, the Unified Port District of San Diego, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, none of which may be used to accommodate additional housing.

Of the parcels in Coronado, 95 percent are already zoned for residential use and there are very few vacant properties, severely limiting the City’s ability to meet the proposed RHNA by rezoning commercial properties or developing other vacant land.

Coronado is within the Airport Influence Area and Accident Potential Zone of NAS North Island (NASNI), which will prevent any increased density or height.

While the proposed RHNA formula includes all active military jobs at NASNI, it does not account for housing already provided for the vast majority of service men and women who reside on the base, aboard ships, or in federally subsidized military housing in San Diego County.

Coronado’s high land values make it economically challenging to develop high-density, affordable housing.

Those are the highlights of Coronado’s case for RHNA quota reduction, and as we’ll soon see, none gained traction with the majority of the SANDAG Board. Coronado City Councilmembers Mike Donovan and Bill Sandke were also in attendance at Friday’s session, spoke to the Board and both presented several cogent points for housing quota reduction. Capt. David Landon (USN-Ret.), the former commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado, reiterated the military housing concept for the Board. Coronado residents Julie Viera and Marilyn Field were also on hand to make a plea for reducing the housing allotment.

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata clearly had bigger fish to fry at the Sept. 6 meeting. A proposed $593.4 million addition to SANDAG’s FY 2020 Capital Improvement Budget was the next agenda item to be discussed. Trying to move the RHNA Methodology discussion forward at one point, he said, “One question came up. What if we don’t approve this now? There is a clock here. There is an 18-month clock for each city that started two weeks ago, for the submission of your housing unit plan. We don’t want to eat into that 18 months.” A couple of city administrators said later during Board discussions they could easily get their Housing Plan completed in six months. Ikhrata’s clear preference was that no changes or alterations should be made to the draft version of the RHNA methodology and the accompanying construction requirements.

A pattern emerged early-on when San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a motion to accept the staff report, the RHNA Methodology and new housing unit allotments as published. Citing a methodology that, “Doesn’t meet state objectives and makes overly large impacts on small cities,” Solana Beach Mayor David Zito proposed a ‘Small Cities Exemption,’ which would reduce the new housing quotas for the cities of Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Imperial Beach and Lemon Grove. Although the exact housing numbers contained in the Small City Exemption weren’t stipulated, reference was made that Coronado’s revised housing number would be cut in half. Mayor Bailey quickly supplied the second for Zito’s motion.

During the discussion period among the Board Members, Ikhrata noted SANDAG Staff had contacted the California HCD to inquire about the Small Cities Exemption. Ikhrata said, “We did consult with the HCD and they made it very clear that to give affluent cities on the Coast a break is a red flag and a no-no. If sent to the HCD, they will reject it. It is the integrity of the methodology that is going to have to move forward.”

Debate and counter points followed, and the time came eventually to vote. The first vote, which was by municipality, to accept the Staff Report as published, failed by 52.63 percent to 47.37 percent. Essentially the vote would have sent the RHNA Methodology back to the staff for substantive changes and further Board review.

No sooner had the impact of that vote registered, than Faulconer called for a weighted vote, by population, which is a relatively new change to SANDAG procedures brought about by state legislation sponsored by Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher. Led by 42 percent from the City of San Diego; 8 percent from the City of Chula Vista; 7.5 percent from San Diego County on a split vote; and five percent from Oceanside; the weighted vote passed 72.5 to 27.5. Game, set, match and say hello to your new housing quota.

Specifically the Coronado housing allotment, broken into its four components calls for 343 Very Low Income housing units; 185 Low Income housing units; 174 Moderate Income housing units and 299 Above Moderate Income housing units for a total of 1,001.

Monday, Coronado City Manager Blair King weighed in on what the short and long-term future will bring to the city regarding new housing unit construction. “Not to accelerate the process, but during the City Council Meeting of Sept. 16, 2019, we will ask for authorization to solicit for professional services to update our housing element. That is one of seven elements to the City Master Plan and the only one that is reviewed by the State. All 18 cities in the region are in the same spot we are, we have to update our housing element. There is a limited talent pool in this consulting area, and we need to identify our consultant sooner rather than later.”

King continued, “With 35 years of experience working in California cities, the plan would be we will work with our identified consultants, analyze our zoning, calculate the full build-out potential we have right now, and then provide the consultants with opportunity sites for housing. After that, we’ll look at other ways to potentially accommodate the RHNA number that has been given to us. Meanwhile, we will have concurrent with the analytical work, have an open process where we are collecting public comment. I anticipate the public will have trouble with some of the alternatives we come up with. We will be seeking comments on the alternatives and going through an environmental review. We will seek comments from responsible agencies such as the California Coastal Commission, the Airport Authority for land use suggestions, and the Navy. We anticipate some of those suggestions will be contrary to the housing we will need. A prediction would be we will try very hard to develop a plan that is acceptable to a variety of responsible agencies, the HCD and the public. We are going to try very hard.”

If you like the concept of unfunded state mandates, you’ll appreciate King’s following thoughts. “As an editorial comment, the State of California continues to not be helpful. The State doesn’t allocate any money out of the General Fun to cities on a per capita basis.”

King continued to discuss possible future alternatives. “As a parallel to the Housing Element, we will look at the cost of new housing and we will look to update our impact fees to provide for the new residences the housing element will be calling for. We may look to increase our affordable housing ‘In Lieu’ Obligations. Right now, for example, if you build a 100-unit condo, 15 percent of that must be available for affordable living. If you can’t provide that, developers pay us a fee equal to that. We’ll be looking at that requirement and we could go to 20 percent.”

King closed with a sports analogy. “Surely if San Diego State played Clemson in football, the coaches would try very, very hard to win, but they would lose. And we’re kind of in the same boat. We don’t produce housing, we don’t have a housing development department, we don’t do mortgage loans or mortgage guarantees. We don’t have general contractors on staff. We’ll see how the private sector reacts. However I do see enrollment for the school district, and full-time housing ownership in the city, both continuing to decline.”

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