SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - The County of San Diego announced last week that several new housing developments have been placed on hold.
Litigation, a court injunction, urban sprawl and countywide voter resistance to development, in general, area being blamed.
Some say the county needs to rethink what type of homes are being built.
There is widespread agreement among local real estate experts that San Diego County needs more housing. But the debate heats up when people start talking about where, and what type of housing to build.
Elfin Forest real estate expert JP Theberge has studied housing demand in the North County.
“The most important housing that we need right now is entry level housing. Housing for young families starting out. We're not building that,” said Theberge.
He believes developers should be required to build affordable housing as part of any new project.
“We're coming off a cycle where we've overbuilt high end housing now. We're still over building high end housing and we're still not addressing the lower end,” said Theberge.
In the city of San Diego, developers are required to include affordable housing in new projects or pay an in lieu fee to help fund affordable housing.
There is no such affordable housing requirement by San Diego County, except in certain developments seeking general plan amendments. Even then, an affordable housing element is not always enforced in the county.
Officials in the county planning department did not respond a request for comment.
Carlsbad real estate consultant Nathan Moeder said mandating affordable housing is not the answer.
“You need all types of housing at all income levels,” said Moeder.
Moeder supports large housing developments with expensive single-family homes. He said having more new homes on the market helps families living in older homes move up the ladder.
“By building more expensive housing you're giving the family that was just married and having a kid -- and moving up with income -- to move into that more expensive home, to give up their townhome that's less expensive for somebody else to move into. That's why we need housing at all income levels, whether it’s affordable or market rate,” said Moeder.
“In San Diego, there's no evidence that ever would happen. Right now, we have houses built in the 1950s that are going for $650,000. So right now, we're not seeing the older stock being that more affordable than the new stock,” Theberge said.
An affordable single-family home in San Diego county costs between $300,000 and $400,000, meaning a family earning 80% of the median family income might be able to purchase it.
In most new developments, however, the single-family homes average around $650,000.
So the question becomes, what are young families really looking for?
“Millennials are looking for more sustainable ways of living. They looking for transit oriented, walkable areas close to their jobs. Out in the middle of nowhere, in the green fields in the backcountry is not where millennials want to live,” said Theberge.
Not surprisingly, Moeder has a different point of view.
“Millennials are already flocking to the suburbs. They're leaving areas like San Diego or New York City or San Francisco because they are over the urban living and dwelling environment. They want single-family homes and more space,” Moeder said.
Of course, there's money to be made in the building industry. And, Theberge would rather see infill and smart growth, as opposed to urban sprawl.
“If you let the building industry build in the green space and the back country, you're basically giving them a reason not to build in the right place, right?” said Theberge.