State opens door to apartment buildings over 30 feet in San Diego’s coastal zone

Deborah K. Vick


A handful of blocks west of Interstate 5, in among Garnet Avenue and Rose Creek, an affordable housing developer is proposing to make the unthinkable — a mid-increase residential tower stretching perfectly earlier mentioned the 30-foot height limit that is been enshrined in the city’s municipal code for 50 years.

San Diego Community Housing Company is setting up a 60-unit, 60-foot-high household developing, known as Rose Creek Apartments, on a .4-acre internet site at 2662 Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. The units will be deed-restricted for lower- and extremely lower-money homes, with some set apart for transitional aged youth and homeless veterans.

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The proposed improvement will be a 4-to-5 tale setting up that features an on-site manager’s device and ground ground typical spot areas for meetings, social routines, leasing and places of work for supportive case management solutions, said Marcela Escobar-Eck, who is the CEO of Atlantis Team Land Use Consultants and is advising the developer.

On June 10, the developer been given the all-clear from California’s Section of Housing and Neighborhood Improvement, or HCD, to bust the neighborhood making height barrier. Just a handful of months in the past the job might have appeared impossible.

Which is because the location falls squarely inside of San Diego’s coastal zone, which was set up by a 1972 voter initiative stopping structures more than 30 feet west of Interstate 5. The community law features carve-outs for downtown, Countrywide Town and components of Mission Bay, but has if not properly managed the very minimal profile of San Diego’s seashore- and bay-adjacent neighborhoods. It is distinct from the California Coastal Act of 1976, which protects land up and down the coast of California.

Rose Creek Residences seems to be the 1st task to check the limits of point out authority in the voter-described coastal zone.

“The Point out Legislature can and does preempt local initiatives,” Shannon West, HCD’s head of housing accountability, wrote in a specialized aid letter delivered to San Diego’s advancement services department very last 7 days. West cited many years of circumstance regulation and was company in her final decision. “The (30-foot peak restrict) growth typical conflicts with State Density Reward Regulation and is void.”

The Rose Creek Flats challenge is even now in its infancy. The Pacific Seaside property is presently household to Wasabi Sushi and its parking good deal, and is continue to in escrow. The developer still needs to full at minimum 18 months of allowing and pre-progress operate ahead of the task can crack floor, Escobar-Eck reported.

San Diego coastal zone areas subject to State Density Bonus Law
A recent state willpower renders the voter initiative-defined 30-foot coastal top restrict void for qualifying housing jobs with economical units in some College Town, Halfway District, Pacific Beach and South Bay neighborhoods, as highlighted on the map.

Yellow shade-coded parts are zoned for multi-relatives housing. Green shade-coded spots are zoned for single-family members housing. Grey colour-coded locations are not zoned for household use.

(Courtesy, Metropolis of San Diego)

Of increased consequence, having said that, is language in West’s letter that states that HCD’s perseverance applies to any qualifying housing development that falls in San Diego’s voter initiative-described coastal zone but is outdoors the state’s coastal boundaries. That means the determination extends to portions of College Town, Pacific Seashore, the Midway District and the South Bay.

“It appears that a substantial volume of land shares the similar specific features as the subject internet site,” West wrote. “It is HCD’s hope that the determinations created in this letter may possibly serve to further facilitate the generation of affordable housing in these locations.”

In other words and phrases, San Diego’s coastal peak restrict overlay zone is no match for the condition — and taller condominium structures are unavoidable.

“This certain viewpoint from HCD is quite crystal clear that the community voter initiative are unable to supersede the State Density Bonus Law, which demands the city to grant particular waivers and incentives for initiatives that contain affordable houses, absent pretty specific findings that would warrant denial for general public health, safety and welfare,” mentioned Heidi Vonblum, who is the director of San Diego’s arranging department.

The State Density Bonus Legislation, established in 1979, exists as an incentive for builders to construct on-web page very affordable units.

Less than the law, which has been expanded in excess of the a long time, housing developments with at minimum five % of models deed-restricted for incredibly very low-income homes, or these making 50 % or significantly less of the region median earnings, are entitled to create 20 % more models than what’s usually allowed by nearby zoning regulations. The reward grows to as considerably as 50 p.c for initiatives with 24 p.c of models established apart for low-earnings families, or individuals generating 80 percent or much less of the place median money. The law features more privileges for jobs that are 100 % reasonably priced and in just walking distance of transit stations.

The median cash flow for a spouse and children of four in San Diego is $106,900, according to the state’s 2022 list of profits restrictions for cost-effective housing models.

The Pacific Seaside parcel in problem is zoned CC-3-8, indicating it is a combined-use zone that supports significant density. The zone lets for a highest of one particular dwelling unit for each 600 sq. feet of whole lot place, as effectively as properties as tall as 100 ft without having the coastal peak restriction, according to the city’s foundation zone regulations. The site, however, is situated within a 50 %-mile of a important transit stop, producing it exempt from utmost density controls, a metropolis spokesperson mentioned.

In the situation of Rose Creek Apartments, which is made up of 100 per cent economical units, the developer is entitled to erect a few added stories or establish 33 feet higher than the 30-foot limit with the state reward.

“This has the prospective to be a serious video game-changer,” mentioned Matthew Boomhower, who is the president of Southern Cross Home Consultants and a regional land-use attorney. “I believe this is a wonderful illustration of HCD’s new, extremely proactive solution expressing, ‘We’re going to push this (pro-housing) agenda and usurp local management.’”

Developing top limitations in San Diego’s voter-outlined coastal zone have been an impediment to catalytic redevelopment in areas like the operate-down Midway District and general housing creation, he mentioned.

“We know that true estate in San Diego is high-priced. So for a developer to have a undertaking and make it pencil, it becomes demanding when you have got value inputs that are fastened, and you have a tough lid that boundaries your capacity to just take gain of (improvement incentives),” Boomhower reported. “It just grew to become a lot much easier for (builders) to line up dollars … for the reason that they can in fact do a adequate range of units to make (their tasks) get the job done.”

The Point out Density Reward Legislation will be utilized at the city team degree on a task-by-undertaking foundation, earning it challenging to identify the quick implications for San Diego’s 48-acre athletics arena web-site.

A few enhancement teams are competing to lease and redo the site with thousands of residences — many of which will be reserved for lessen-revenue homes — and a new arena alongside parks and a combine of industrial utilizes. The proposals are banking on a do-above ballot evaluate, slated for the November 2022 ballot, that if handed by a majority of city voters would elevate the 30-foot top limit for the entire 1,324-acre Halfway District.

The condition legislation seemingly presents an different route ahead for household towers on the athletics arena web-site, despite the fact that it’s not crystal clear if a developer would be qualified for a sitewide reward that applies to commercial development these types of as workplace towers or a athletics amusement venue.


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