The Year of Housing – Solutions to Meet San Diego’s Housing Challenge
By Philip J. Bona, AIA
Known as America’s Finest City, San Diego California is the 8th largest city in the United States by population. In 2015, its Association of Governments (SANDAG) completed the “San Diego Forward: Regional Plan” that forecast 1 million more citizens in the County by 2050. Only 50% of this growth will be from immigration into California, while the other 50% will be natural demographic increase from current inhabitants. This demand translates to 330,000 additional housing units that will require construction of at least 10,000 units per year countywide. Less than half that was built in 2016 and trended similarly in the past decade.
A broad San Diego coalition called Housing You Matters was started last year by the Building Industry Association, Habitat for Humanity, the Urban Land Institute, the Association of Realtors, the San Diego Architectural Foundation, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA|SD), among others to take on the task of finding solutions. The group prepared an agenda for 2017 to address the severe housing shortage, promote a wider range of housing prices, and create a discourse on regulatory reform with the City. Branded as the Year of Housing for the region, a robust calendar of conferences and activities has been developed to engage and inform citizenry and the marketplace and also promote a new generation of “Yimby’s” (Yes in my back yard). Conferences are hosted by San Diego’s City Council, Citizens for Century-3, the ULI, San Diego Architectural Foundation, Housing You Matters, and the AIA|SD, as well as CityAge (a National Housing Conference) on April 25/26th.
With 90% of San Diego’s available land zoned residential and already occupied, most of the remaining 10% are unbuildable sites. Because of this constrained housing inventory, rent and sale prices continue to escalate to what the market will bear and more. Based on inflationary home prices between 1995 and 2015, the projected median price of a home in 2050 is expected to be $1.6 million. This rising cost of housing in San Diego is not sustainable, and left to the marketplace for the next 33 years, along with slower acceleration of personal income, our grand-children and great-grandchildren face certain hardship.
Using the successful Regional Urban Design Charrette model for “Housing the Next Million in the Silicon Valley” led by AIA San Mateo County in the year 2000, AIA|SD will lead the same effort for San Diego County in 2017. In March, interdisciplinary teams, made up of volunteer architects, planners, landscape architects, engineers, builders, universities, community representatives, developers, city agencies, community banks, realtors and others, will come together monthly to study regional and local solutions for a leaner housing industry and more resilient land use. In November, the teams will meet for a 2-day Charrette to target 12 transit growth areas identified by SANDAG. The goal is to dream and employ best practices in planning, design and visualizations that demonstrates solutions to how the County could absorb 330,000 additional housing units in a smart, healthy, sustainable, mobile, and resilient way for the region.
Philip Bona is 2017 President of the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, a member of the AIA National Strategic Council, and a practicing architect & planner with BNIM | 2011 AIA National Architecture Firm Award.
Contact Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-207-9092.
- March 17, 2017 at NewSchool
- April 20, 2017 at Woodbury
- Photos from the February Housing Charrette kick-off meeting
- California Building News – Meeting San Diego’s Housing Challenge
- The San Diego Union Tribune OpEd – To tackle development issues, San Diego must become city of ‘Great Villages’