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San Diego planning commission decides not to jump off cliff just yet

Too scary: 10 units per parcel and tossing out exemptions for historic areas

Gates to Talmadge neighborhood. Laura Henson, president of the Talmadge Historical Society, said not to exempt historic districts like Talmadge "is wrong and absolutely not a subversion of SB 10."
Gates to Talmadge neighborhood. Laura Henson, president of the Talmadge Historical Society, said not to exempt historic districts like Talmadge "is wrong and absolutely not a subversion of SB 10."

The planning commission for the city of San Diego last week voted unanimously to hold off on adopting a state housing law that would add a lot more homes around San Diego for people of all income levels.

By implementing Senate Bill 10, cities can allow 10 units per parcel in areas within a half-mile of a major transit stop. The commission was set to recommend it in a new housing package - only to face a wall of opposition.

If passed, future city councils would be barred from reducing the density allowed. As opponents said, it would mean "one housing unit per 1,000 square feet forever."

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The package included 13 amendments to the city's land development code aimed at tackling the "missing middle" by making it easier to build homes at all income levels, while not displacing current residents. Two items in the regulations were amended the day before the meeting. To be consistent with state law, accessory dwelling units will count toward the total number count under SB 10 - and they are required to be affordable.

One of the most fought-over rules was a change from the original proposal that removes an exemption for historic districts and sites.

"Many of our historic sites are 30 years behind being implemented, and places people cherish and think are designated, like Loma Portal and Talmadge and Golden Hill, are not designated," said Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organization.

Quartermass-Wilde House, Golden Hill. "Places people cherish and think are designated, like Loma Portal and Talmadge and Golden Hill, are not designated."

"The implementation of SB 10 without it will ensure that they never are."

Along with the exemption was a proposed January 1, 2023 cutoff for designation. This came from an earlier suggestion from the commission that historic designations would flow in "as an attempt to subvert the intent of our implementation of missing middle housing regulations."

Laura Henson, president of the Talmadge Historical Society, said not to exempt historic districts like Talmadge "is wrong and absolutely not a subversion of SB 10."

A lot of speakers asked that all current and future historic districts be excluded from SB 10. Or better yet - reject SB10 outright. Others pointed to the stark need for more housing in every corner of the city.

"We need to do everything possible to make housing affordable in San Diego and cannot exempt privileged neighborhoods under the guise of historic preservation," said Scott Borden.

City planners said all of the policies and rules in the general plan, as well as the land development code would still be applicable for any development impacting a historic resource or district.

To meet its state-mandated share of housing, the city must permit 108,036 homes by 2029. Of these, over 44,000 must be affordable to low income and very low income residents, while another 19,000 are needed for moderate income San Diegans.

"I still think SB10 is not the right goal," said chair Bill Hofman. The max density is too high. And maybe reducing the boundaries would help. He recommended they "explore maybe just an outline of an alternative to SB 10 because the permanency of it, I can't get past that."

The item was continued to August 3.

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Gates to Talmadge neighborhood. Laura Henson, president of the Talmadge Historical Society, said not to exempt historic districts like Talmadge "is wrong and absolutely not a subversion of SB 10."
Gates to Talmadge neighborhood. Laura Henson, president of the Talmadge Historical Society, said not to exempt historic districts like Talmadge "is wrong and absolutely not a subversion of SB 10."

The planning commission for the city of San Diego last week voted unanimously to hold off on adopting a state housing law that would add a lot more homes around San Diego for people of all income levels.

By implementing Senate Bill 10, cities can allow 10 units per parcel in areas within a half-mile of a major transit stop. The commission was set to recommend it in a new housing package - only to face a wall of opposition.

If passed, future city councils would be barred from reducing the density allowed. As opponents said, it would mean "one housing unit per 1,000 square feet forever."

Sponsored
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The package included 13 amendments to the city's land development code aimed at tackling the "missing middle" by making it easier to build homes at all income levels, while not displacing current residents. Two items in the regulations were amended the day before the meeting. To be consistent with state law, accessory dwelling units will count toward the total number count under SB 10 - and they are required to be affordable.

One of the most fought-over rules was a change from the original proposal that removes an exemption for historic districts and sites.

"Many of our historic sites are 30 years behind being implemented, and places people cherish and think are designated, like Loma Portal and Talmadge and Golden Hill, are not designated," said Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organization.

Quartermass-Wilde House, Golden Hill. "Places people cherish and think are designated, like Loma Portal and Talmadge and Golden Hill, are not designated."

"The implementation of SB 10 without it will ensure that they never are."

Along with the exemption was a proposed January 1, 2023 cutoff for designation. This came from an earlier suggestion from the commission that historic designations would flow in "as an attempt to subvert the intent of our implementation of missing middle housing regulations."

Laura Henson, president of the Talmadge Historical Society, said not to exempt historic districts like Talmadge "is wrong and absolutely not a subversion of SB 10."

A lot of speakers asked that all current and future historic districts be excluded from SB 10. Or better yet - reject SB10 outright. Others pointed to the stark need for more housing in every corner of the city.

"We need to do everything possible to make housing affordable in San Diego and cannot exempt privileged neighborhoods under the guise of historic preservation," said Scott Borden.

City planners said all of the policies and rules in the general plan, as well as the land development code would still be applicable for any development impacting a historic resource or district.

To meet its state-mandated share of housing, the city must permit 108,036 homes by 2029. Of these, over 44,000 must be affordable to low income and very low income residents, while another 19,000 are needed for moderate income San Diegans.

"I still think SB10 is not the right goal," said chair Bill Hofman. The max density is too high. And maybe reducing the boundaries would help. He recommended they "explore maybe just an outline of an alternative to SB 10 because the permanency of it, I can't get past that."

The item was continued to August 3.

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