Breaking News
More () »

2020 San Diego Mayoral candidates sound off about the housing crisis

San Diegans will choose a new mayor on Tuesday, November 3. Hear what the candidates had to say about the housing crisis.

SAN DIEGO — One of the biggest issues in San Diego is the housing crisis. Whether it is a shortage of inventory or residents being priced out of the market. What are the candidates' plan to deal with this issue?   

RELATED: Early voting begins for March 3 Presidential Primary at registrar of voters, mail ballots hit San Diego homes

RELATED: The 2020 San Diego Mayoral candidate interviews

Barbara Bry (D):

So there are many things we're going to have to do to provide more housing. One of the things we're going to have to do is enforce our existing municipal code. Again, short term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods. That's 16,000 homes right now. We have about 500,000 dwelling units in the city of San Diego. So that's three percent of our housing stock at a time we have a housing shortage. And if we don't start enforcing our existing municipal code, that number is just going to keep increasing, forcing more San Diegans has to have a harder time finding a place to live. 

So that's one thing I'm going to do. 

RELATED: An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Barbara Bry

The second thing, I'm very proud as a council member, I have voted to update community plans along transit to allow the buy right development of 45,000 more housing units in the Midway area, Morena, Balboa, and Mission Valley. All appropriate areas for density because they're along transit. But housing is expensive to build. I mean, the price of land, the price of materials, the price of labor, and there's a shortage of skilled labor. And then there are the fees and the fees pay for infrastructure. I know Mr. Sherman would like to do away with fees, but we actually need that money. So I'm looking at a few things. 

First, how can we get the state to help us with the fees which pay for the infrastructure? And second, how can we have the building industry look at more innovative ways of building? For example, modular housing is being used in other parts of the state. We would have to have a factory here because the cost of transportation is so high. But what if we had a factory in northern San Diego County that could also serve L.A. and Riverside County? Michael Copley is building a project using shipping containers in East Village. I mean, that may sound fairly primitive, but actually some beautiful things have been built with shipping containers. So I'm looking at innovation in terms of how we construct. I'm also looking at how we're going to use public land. So the city owns land, the School Board owns land. Caltrans owns land. 

The Community College District owns land. What excess land is available that can be leased to developers on a long term 99-year basis that can be used to build more housing? And a combination of these things will provide more housing at a price that real people, working families, can afford. 

Jarvis Gandy (I):

I do have a plan for that. You know, as we all know, Governor, Governor Newsom has signed a bill to help homelessness. You know, if we're going to talk about that for people to go into the vacant houses, we could use some of the vacant houses, and but I have a plan that I want to have a sort of like Uber effect to, whereas I'm gonna be trying to talk to a lot of the nonprofit agencies to subsidize rents. And I will be partnering with a lot of the landlords and the homeowners here in the city of San Diego. 

RELATED: An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Jarvis Gandy

The beauty of this is not only going to be for local and state is going to be a national plan that I'm going to be able to implement for that.

Todd Gloria (D): 

It is unquestionably the biggest problem and what the next mayor has to tackle head on. What I've said is that we have to get a lot better at producing more housing generally. But housing, particularly for low income and middle income San Diegans. So low income, we're talking about the homeless and formerly homeless. We need strong mayoral leadership in cities across this nation are ending chronic homelessness. 

Unfortunately, San Diego is not among those communities. But we can be; with strong moral leadership, with data-driven decision making, we have to hold those, receive public money accountable for the funds that they get and prove that they're getting people off the streets and keeping them off the streets if they can do that. They should get more money. 

RELATED: An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Todd Gloria

If they can't, they should get less or they should get none. We have to build more housing, period. We have to partner with the county. The city has a housing commission. The county has a behavioral health and human services agency. When you marry housing with services, that's how you end homelessness. It's important that we enlarge this conversation. It's not sufficient in this problem in the city of San Diego. 

All 18 cities in our county, unincorporated areas must be working off the same sheet of music, if you will. And the mayor of San Diego has the biggest bully pulpit in the region. And I want to use that bully pulpit to bring everyone together so that we don't just solve this issue in the city of San Diego, but we do it in Chula Vista, in Escondido, in Oceanside and other places where we know there are thousands of people who are unsheltered. 

Moving attention to the working and middle class, you know, I'm a native San Diegan. I'm a third-generation San Diegan. And my mom and dad were a maid and a gardener. They were able to work hard and buy a home in this community, put their two kids through college, the first in our family to ever go. I think most of your viewers would find that story impossible in 2020. And the next mayor of San Diego has to say that's not acceptable and we should work to change that. 

I'm a renter myself. I grew up here. I went to college here. The people, the taxpayers of this, community helped subsidize my education. And yet even I, with a good salary that I make, can't afford to buy a home. So I get it. I understand. And as mayor, I'll be laser-focused on making sure that we are updating our community plans. These are the governing documents that guide where development should go. 

I don't believe in building anything, anywhere, building a bunch of housing out in the backcountry where we know they are fire-prone areas makes no sense. Building high skyscrapers in our coastal communities. That's the most expensive kind of housing. What we need are housing that working people can afford. What I often hear complaints about is that I earn not enough to afford market-rate housing, but I earn too much to qualify for any of the programs that are out there. We should use some of the strategies that have effectively built thousands of homes for low income San Diegans and use those same strategies for middle income San Diegans. 

Ultimately, I want to make sure that kids like me who grew up in this community see a future for themselves here, can see buying a home here, raising a family, building wealth. If we can do that, then you can have a great city. You can't have a great city. If people have their eye on the door thinking, I can only stay here so much longer until I have to move away.

And again, the mayor, as the city manager of the city, a stronger form of government, we will oversee, the mayor oversees. The Development Services Department has the executive ability to make sure that we're issuing permits in a timely fashion, cutting through red tape and making sure those savings are reflected in the rents and the for sale prices of the homes that are being built. 

Rich Riel (R):

First of all, I'm the only candidate running that has housing experience. I worked for the San Diego Housing Commission. I worked for Contrasts Brothers Development Corporation, which was one of the largest low and moderate-income housing developers in San Diego in my lifetime. I probably built many thousands and managed many thousands of low and moderate-income units. And I understand what the problem in the housing is. 

First of all, we have to address the issue of land. 

Land cost in San Diego wherever you go, are the driving forces for what we have today. The solution to low-income housing is taking land that the city already owns and leasing that land to a developer for 100 years. Then we build housing that we leased to human beings that work in the city and are not you know, they fall within the guidelines, the HUD guidelines for mid and moderate-income families here in San Diego. 

RELATED: An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Rich Riel

By eliminating the 25 percent cost of land, we can reduce the cost of housing and both in rental housing and in for sale. And if you do a leasehold estate for 50 years, a family can raise their children in that house knowing that they own that house for 50 years. 

Irvine Ranch up the coast here is a perfect example. They never sold the land. It's a leasehold estate. It comes back to them and they keep selling the land and they can afford to sell low. Twenty-five percent below market rate prices for housing. That is the best way that I know of to solve the high cost of housing in San Diego. 

Scott Sherman (R):

Both of my kids live out of state because they can't afford to live here. My daughter, unfortunately, took the grandkids with her. So it's even it's doubly troubling. But the problem we have at City Hall right now, it's twofold, is we keep concentrating on taxpayer-subsidized housing, affordable housing to try and get us out of the housing crisis. 

And we're forgetting about the middle market, that the housing area where you're going from subsidized housing to the next level, you're going from seven hundred dollars a month in rent to two thousand dollars a month in rent. And one of the reasons that we have that disparity is 47% of the cost of building housing in this city is government regulation and red tape. If we can cut that out, then it won't be forcing the developers and the homebuilders to pass the costs the government puts on them onto the consumer. 

RELATED: An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Scott Sherman

We need to start concentrating on that middle market. And you do that by middle-income density bonuses. You do that by changing your underlying zoning to try and incentivize instead of mandating that developers build this type of housing so our kids can come. My kids can move back. What zoning issues and specific density bonuses around mass transit and those types of things allowing for four more dense development on certain sites if you meet certain parameters. We actually have seen that in Grantville, in my district, in District 7. 

We did a Grantville specific plan which upzoned a lot of the area and gave incentives to homebuilders to build certain types of housing. You know, we've been arguing about 10 percent mandates for inclusionary housing. We've got 2,000 units coming online now without a mandate, without any kind of raising in fees. 

We've got 2,000 units coming online, 30 percent of which is affordable housing. All because the only thing we did was change the zoning and give some incentive to developers to develop a certain type of housing. We need to do that for that next rung in the economic ladder. 

Gita Appelbaum Singh (D):

We really need affordable housing. We absolutely need affordable jobs so people can start saving to afford homes. Right now, the median home in San Diego is roughly about 500,000. And you have to average about 100,000 a year for that job that that house. 

RELATED: An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Gita Applebaum Singh

And we are finding that the increased homeless population is people cannot afford rent and they cannot afford homes. So we need to find a solution. We need to come up with the city and the county finding a way of building affordable homes for our San Diego residents. 

Tasha Williamson (D):

I think that one of the ways to solve it is that we definitely look at permanent housing as the first choice vs. the solutions that they have for homelessness, which is shelters in transition, transitional housing. I think that is not working here in San Diego. And it is also something that we need to look at when we look at the four cities here in the nation that have ended homelessness.

 But also when we look at nations that have thought about the middle class and working class and they have become landlords, and so they have actually driven down the prices of rent as becoming landlords, as city government. And that is something that we need to do. 

RELATED: An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Tasha Williamson

We have plenty of land and buildings that we have the resources to actually build housing for middle class, working-class individuals as well as low-income individuals that we become landlords. 

And we show the city how to be inclusive of everyone and to make sure that we are not violating United Nations laws and that we are thinking of everyone with dignity and respect and providing housing and the things that people need as a right to them. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out