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FACT CHECK: Affordable Housing

The Woodpecker contends that Del Mar Deputy Mayor Haviland, the City’s SANDAG representative, went rogue and voted AGAINST Del Mar’s interests by voting FOR “titanic” increases in Del Mar’s housing allocation and AGAINST an opportunity to reduce Del Mar’s allocation.  (See, Woodpecker September, 2019).

Deputy Mayor Haviland voted FOR the housing allocation methodology that was endorsed 5-0 by the Del Mar Council. Her vote at SANDAG followed the direction of her council. The alternate proposal referenced by the Woodpecker was presented last minute at the SANDAG hearing and would have lowered the allocations of the five smallest cities, including Del Mar and Solana Beach, by transferring 55% of their units to other cities and 1,575 units to the Unincorporated County.  This last minute effort was dead on arrival as it conflicted with SANDAG and State goals.

Here’s the back story on this important, but complex, housing issue. The State of California, not SANDAG or the city of Del Mar, determines how many new housing units are required in San Diego. Every ten years the state goes through an elaborate, science and data based process to assign the number of needed new units to each region of the state, taking into account economics, demographics, population and employment trends, job growth, and other factors. This process is open and public, and is conducted by the best experts in the business. For San Diego’s next housing cycle (2021 through 2029), the number of new units assigned to the region is 171,688, a 6% increase over the prior cycle.

These 171,000 units must be distributed by SANDAG in “fair share” allocations to each of the 18 cities and the unincorporated county.  Overall, the distribution must meet state greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and vehicle miles travelled (VMT) requirements. This means jobs, transit, and housing need to be near each other. SANDAG controls the distribution methodology but NOT the 171,000 number.

The SANDAG process considered the various methodologies for distributing these 171,000 units: Distribution based on land area, the amount of developable versus vacant land in each city, the General/Community Plans of the cities, special circumstances like the military presence in Coronado and the fairgrounds presence in Del Mar, the size of the cities, density per acre, jobs, transit, and more.

In the end, SANDAG’s Technical Working Group (TWG) comprised of the Planning Director’s from all 18 cities and the County, including Del Mar’s Kathy Garcia, after months of study recommended and the SANDAG Board endorsed a methodology that distributes the 171,000 units based on: (1) Proximity to Transit (2) the number of jobs and (3) an equity adjustment. Del Mar’s assignment is 163 units across varying income levels. SANDAG selected this methodology to address the climate crisis and to meet state law requirements for reductions in GHG and VMT. Meeting these requirements is mandatory.  Serious penalties follow if they are not met.  SANDAG is currently out of compliance. The methodology adopted will meet these requirements while the rejected strategies will not. 

The alternate proposal to redistribute 55% of small city units had many problems explaining why it was defeated.  First, it would reallocate 1,575 units to the unincorporated county, promoting sprawl, increasing both GHG and VMT without any justification or explanation as to why that was appropriate. Second, SANDAG staff did not support the proposal for reasons articulated at the meeting. Third, The state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) which has final approval authority indicated this proposal would be a “red flag”  likely to lead to disapproval. Fourth, L.A. had tried a similar strategy that backfired and resulted in more units. Fifth, the City of San Diego was ready to kill the proposal by calling a weighted vote even if it passed an initial vote.  As expected, the proposal failed, with both Imperial Beach and Del Mar, two of the five smallest cities, voting against it.

The Woodpecker and others then selectively took pieces of this story out of context, published the September 2019 Woodpecker, wrote letters to the editor and began a campaign implying that Deputy Mayor Haviland had gone rogue and voted against Del Mar’s interest. In response, Deputy Mayor Haviland explained publicly how she voted and why. She also brought top SANDAG officials to the Del Mar city council meeting of September 30 where they addressed all these issues and graciously took questions. The facts were there on the public record for all who wanted them.

The Woodpecker does a disservice when it takes pieces of a complicated issue out of context, applies spin, and misleads the community for political reasons. We should all expect better.



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