Housing affordability becoming an issue in North County

Housing affordability becoming an issue in North County
Panelists at the San Diego North County Economic Summit said a lack of housing coupled with a strengthening economy has caused North County renters and homeowners to spend a higher portion of their income on rent. Photo by Ellen Wright

REGION — Nearly half of renters in North County spend 35 percent or more of their income on housing, according to a report published by San Diego North Economic Development Council.

Housing affordability is becoming a problem in North County, which is a result of a strengthening economy, BW Research’s President Josh Williams said at the North County Economic Summit Tuesday.

When there are more full-time jobs, there are more people able to afford rent and move out on their own.

Renters make up 43 percent of the households in North County.

Homeowners are also spending a large percentage of their income on mortgages, with 38 percent of homeowners in North County spending over a third of their income on housing.

According to the report, people are willing to spend a larger portion of their income towards housing because of the high quality of life in the area.

Along with more renters, there is also a shortage of housing.

Panelists at the summit attributed the housing affordability problem to specific causes including regulation and lack of supply.

Senior Vice President and Development Director of Newland Real Estate Group Rita Brandin said San Diego’s permit issuance is nearly half of what it needs to be to keep up with growth and meet the demand of 330,000 new homes by 2050.

“The biggest challenge for delivering on those homes is the fact that we have only 6,600 permits where we need to average about 12,000 per year,” Brandin said.

She said that a big problem in the lack of housing is peoples’ opposition to housing developments. She used a term to describe a problematic attitude towards home development, BANANA, which stood for “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything.”

President and CEO of Market Pointe Realty Advisors Russell Valone II agreed.

“There will always be (someone in opposition) that is going to talk 10 times more and 10 times louder than 98 percent of the population,” Valone said.

He urged elected officials to not let community planning groups dictate urban planning policies.

Valone said people need to rethink the word “density” since it often has a negative connotation and isn’t always a bad thing.

“Density can be done in a fantastic way,” Valone said.

Another factor slowing down building in the North County region and California, according to Corporate Real Estate Advisor at the McKinney Advisory Group, Peter Quinn, is the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA.

“CEQA is stopping bad projects but it’s slowing down or destroying good projects all over our county and state,” Quinn said.

The state mandate requires state and local agencies to follow strict guidelines when planning land use in order to protect the environment.

Matt Weaver from Lee and Associates said a 115-unit project his company is working on in Vista was approved seven years ago but has been hung up by environmental and storm water regulations.

In the seven years since the project was approved, impact fees increased $27,000 per unit, which resulted in a $3.1 million increase overall in the project.

He said those fees go directly to the landowner.

The lack of housing in the region also affects traffic in North County, according to the report, because it forces people in low-wage jobs to move farther from their workplace and commute to work.


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