SAN DIEGO — During a five-hour meeting, the Planning Commission considered Mayor Todd Gloria’s latest Housing Action Plan Thursday. The plan would incorporate the implementation of Senate Bill 10, the prominent source for debate in council chambers during public comment.
“High density randomly dropped into neighborhoods, minimal setbacks of 4-5 feet, and massive building volumes out-of-scale with the neighborhoods they’ll be dropped into,” said Danna Givot at the podium.
About 70 people filled council chambers in addition to a few dozen who called in over the phone, and while the majority spoke out against SB 10, a handful of supporters showed up too.
“I applaud the efforts by this Commission and the Mayor’s Office to bring forth much-needed housing and deliver the state’s first implementation of SB 10,” said one supporter.
Opting into the state law would allow up to ten units to be built on a single lot within a Sustainable Development Area. According to the staff report, eligible parcels must be within a half-mile of a major transit stop or on an urban infill site defined in the bill as parcels surrounded 75% by urban uses like homes, commercial services, or other development. Geoff Hueter, Chair of Neighbors for a Better San Diego, further clarified the criteria during his comments.
“The exclusions for SB 10 developments are very, very minor. What’s an urban area? If you have neighbors on either side of you and a street in front of you, you’re in an urban area, and you qualify,” said Hueter.
The most significant criticism of the bill by far was that it becomes irreversible once the City opts in.
“Once a parcel is designated as eligible for Senate Bill 10, it can never be zoned for less density, so never, that’s the kicker in all of this,” said Givot.
On the other hand, Molly Kirkland, Director of Public Affairs for the Southern California Rental Housing Association, supports what Mayor Gloria’s plan is trying to accomplish.
“We need to build up because we can’t build out any longer. There are still some parcels of land out there, but we don’t have much left to work with, so we need to add density,” said Kirkland. “It’s not always ideal taking on some additional density, but we are in a housing crisis. We need more homes of all kinds and at all price points.”
If building more than four units, the rules would require at least one deed-restricted affordable unit. Dave Nicolai, who lives in El Cerrito, feels Mayor Gloria’s plan isn’t the right approach.
“It’s just going to pack ‘em in and see how much they can fit,” said Nicolai. “It’s haphazard development. This stuff belongs on transit corridors, not in single-family neighborhoods.”
After hours of public comment, several commissioners, including Chairman Bill Hofman, voiced reservations about how the state bill would be implemented.
“I think SB 10 is fatally flawed. I don’t think that was a good piece of legislation, especially the permanency,” said Hofman.
Commissioners ultimately decided they needed more time to evaluate the proposal and voted to take it up again on August 3rd on the 12th floor at City Hall.
WATCH RELATED: San Diego residents protest against SB10 during city's Planning Department public workshop