“It’s ridiculously frustrating that they allow this to happen,” said Eric Rosenzweig, a homeowner in the College East neighborhood.
SAN DIEGO — A heated debate is brewing over a new proposal from the City of San Diego called Sustainable Development Areas (SDA), which would expand eligible neighborhoods for housing density incentives up to one mile from transit stops.
“It’s ridiculously frustrating that they allow this to happen,” said Eric Rosenzweig, a homeowner in the College East neighborhood. “It’s just our city in the pocket of profiteers and developers, giving them carte blanche to build wherever they want with whatever they want.”
Rosenzweig is unhappy about the multiple two-story granny flats towering over his backyard fence.
“It’s three of these buildings, the same, one on each neighbor’s fence, overlooking the neighbor’s yard, just like this is overlooking mine,” said Rosenzweig while pointing at the accessory dwelling units being constructed behind his property. “They get to build this with no regard for parking, no developmental impact fees, no planning for infrastructure.”
Because Rosenzweig’s College East neighborhood sits within a Transit Priority Area (TPA), which means it’s within a half-mile of a trolley or bus stop, homeowners and developers can utilize the City’s ADU Density Bonus Program to build more granny flats on their properties. Currently, the half-mile distance from transit in a TPA is measured as the crow flies. Still, the City is attempting to change how it’s estimated to be actually within walking distance of the new Sustainable Development Areas. SDAs would also expand eligibility up to a mile from transit for some of the City’s density and affordable housing bonus programs.
“There are certain properties just barely over a half-mile away from a high-performing bus stop, and they currently don’t qualify,” said Colin Parent, Executive Director of Circulate San Diego. “With these updated changes, they will qualify.”
Parent said to address the housing crisis, a bunch of different solutions is needed, and these new SDAs are part of the big picture.
“We have a housing shortage, and we have to do everything we can to make it easier, cheaper, and faster to build more homes,” said Parent.
“They added 5,000 more acres of single-family zones into the SDA, and that equates to well over 86,000 homes,” said Geoff Hueter, Chair of Neighbors for a Better San Diego. “This disproportionately affects single-family homeowners; yes, they have interests too.”
Hueter doesn’t think increasing density further away from transit than the current TPA’s makes much sense.
“When you put people further away from the bus stop, what’s going to happen is you’re just reproducing cars,” said Hueter.
“Many people get to transit, not by walking, but by riding a bike or a scooter or being dropped off,” said Parent. “These policies will help improve and address climate change by allowing more people to live near and work near public transit.”
The San Diego City Council will vote on the proposed SDA as part of a Land Development Code update at their Tuesday meeting.
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