Coronado Shores. Will the Coastal Commission allow more of these to be built?
Coronado, one of the county's smallest cities, can't see how it will ever meet its share of the region's housing goals. Home to two large Navy bases, the land-locked, built-out, high-priced city was allocated 1,000 new units.
On September 6, our region's planning agency, SANDAG, held a hearing to give the public one last chance to rally for revisions to the draft 2021-2029 Regional Housing Needs Assessment plan. Speakers from several small cities showed up.
To meet state housing targets, the county must build 171,685 new homes over the next decade. The issue debated was the formula SANDAG used to decide how and where to dole out units. It relies mainly on each city's jobs and access to transit.
"Even if you used the proposed methodology, I believe it's erroneously applied in Coronado's case," said local Pat Escher. "We are allocated 27,000 jobs, including Navy jobs." Jobs are counted on ships that are homeported "whether they're there or not." Two aircraft carriers with about 11,000 on board are at sea most of the time, and when they're here, many jobs are at Miramar and Lemoore.
"Our sailors and Marines are working full-time around the world to protect us but they are not working full-time in Coronado."
While some had suggested the military build housing on their installations, SANDAG said the military isn't subject to state housing laws.
The second smallest city, Solana Beach, has sixty percent of the land governed by homeowner associations that will block development. Board member and Solana Beach Mayor David Zito called the formula "explainable but not defensible."
He previously asked for more factors than jobs and transit to be included to account for differences among cities, like the availability of developable land.
Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas said her city "does have the luxury of creating a lot more housing." But in landlocked cities like Coronado, "building up is really a stretch with the constraints the Coastal Commission imposes."
Zito made a motion to adjust for the five cities with the smallest populations: Solana Beach, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach, Del Mar, and Coronado – reducing their share by 55 percent.
"Almost, virtually everyone who has provided testimony today comes from one of the small cities," Zito said.
But the California department of Housing and Community Development, which must approve the plan the board will submit, already rejected a small-city adjustment, seeing it as a red flag when upper-income coastal communities try to get out of their housing allocation.
The state department determines regional housing needs in four income categories: low, very low, moderate, and above moderate.
"Here's where we are excelling – in above moderate income levels," said Encinitas mayor Catherine Blakespear. "Methodologies are great. But thinking about the output is important." If the housing doesn't actually get built, "we're creating one more empty promise if we adopt this."
Cathryn Rodman, director of Affordable Housing Advocates, thought the wealthier cities should yield up their allotment of higher end units. Cities such as Coronado, Carlsbad, and Solana Beach are exceeding the above moderate income allocations, anywhere from 29-55 percent above the region average, she said.
"The law does require a low income allocation for each jurisdiction, but it doesn't require a moderate or above moderate allocation."