July 7, 2022

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Good Living

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

6 min read

A handful of blocks west of Interstate 5, in concerning Garnet Avenue and Rose Creek, an economical housing developer is proposing to build the unthinkable — a mid-rise household tower stretching nicely earlier mentioned the 30-foot top restrict that’s been enshrined in the city’s municipal code for 50 a long time.

San Diego Local community Housing Corporation is arranging a 60-device, 60-foot-significant household constructing, called Rose Creek Flats, on a .4-acre website at 2662 Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach front. The units will be deed-limited for low- and very reduced-money homes, with some established aside for transitional aged youth and homeless veterans.

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The proposed growth will be a 4-to-5 tale building that capabilities an on-website manager’s unit and floor floor widespread region areas for conferences, social routines, leasing and offices for supportive scenario administration solutions, mentioned Marcela Escobar-Eck, who is the CEO of Atlantis Group Land Use Consultants and is advising the developer.

On June 10, the developer been given the all-very clear from California’s Office of Housing and Group Development, or HCD, to bust the regional developing peak barrier. Just a couple of months in the past the project might have appeared unattainable.

That’s because the location falls squarely in just San Diego’s coastal zone, which was set up by a 1972 voter initiative avoiding buildings more than 30 feet west of Interstate 5. The regional regulation contains carve-outs for downtown, National Metropolis and pieces of Mission Bay, but has in any other case properly maintained the really reduced profile of San Diego’s seaside- and bay-adjacent neighborhoods. It is distinctive from the California Coastal Act of 1976, which safeguards land up and down the coastline of California.

Rose Creek Flats seems to be the initially venture to check the boundaries of state authority in the voter-described coastal zone.

“The Condition Legislature can and does preempt neighborhood initiatives,” Shannon West, HCD’s head of housing accountability, wrote in a technological help letter sent to San Diego’s development companies office previous week. West cited a long time of scenario regulation and was company in her decision. “The (30-foot peak restrict) improvement regular conflicts with Point out Density Bonus Regulation and is void.”

The Rose Creek Apartments venture is nonetheless in its infancy. The Pacific Beach front residence is presently house to Wasabi Sushi and its parking large amount, and is nonetheless in escrow. The developer nevertheless requirements to entire at the very least 18 months of allowing and pre-progress perform just before the venture can split ground, Escobar-Eck claimed.

San Diego coastal zone areas subject to State Density Bonus Law
A current condition perseverance renders the voter initiative-outlined 30-foot coastal height limit void for qualifying housing initiatives with reasonably priced units in some University Metropolis, Halfway District, Pacific Seashore and South Bay neighborhoods, as highlighted on the map.

Yellow shade-coded regions are zoned for multi-relatives housing. Inexperienced shade-coded regions are zoned for solitary-family members housing. Grey colour-coded places are not zoned for household use.

(Courtesy, Town of San Diego)

Of increased consequence, however, is language in West’s letter that states that HCD’s determination applies to any qualifying housing growth that falls inside San Diego’s voter initiative-described coastal zone but is outside the house the state’s coastal boundaries. That signifies the resolve extends to portions of University City, Pacific Seaside, the Midway District and the South Bay.

“It seems that a considerable sum of land shares the very same distinct properties as the matter web site,” West wrote. “It is HCD’s hope that the determinations made in this letter may provide to even more facilitate the creation of economical housing in these locations.”

In other text, San Diego’s coastal top restrict overlay zone is no match for the condition — and taller apartment properties are inevitable.

“This certain feeling from HCD is very distinct that the regional voter initiative cannot supersede the State Density Bonus Law, which needs the metropolis to grant specific waivers and incentives for jobs that consist of very affordable homes, absent quite unique findings that would warrant denial for general public health, protection and welfare,” explained Heidi Vonblum, who is the director of San Diego’s setting up office.

The State Density Reward Legislation, established in 1979, exists as an incentive for developers to make on-web page affordable units.

Beneath the law, which has been expanded above the many years, housing developments with at the very least 5 per cent of models deed-limited for incredibly minimal-revenue households, or all those generating 50 per cent or significantly less of the space median revenue, are entitled to construct 20 per cent a lot more units than what’s normally allowed by regional zoning regulations. The reward grows to as a great deal as 50 % for assignments with 24 percent of units set aside for minimal-profits people, or those building 80 p.c or less of the area median income. The regulation features supplemental privileges for initiatives that are 100 % reasonably priced and in just strolling distance of transit stations.

The median money for a loved ones of 4 in San Diego is $106,900, according to the state’s 2022 checklist of earnings restrictions for inexpensive housing models.

The Pacific Seaside parcel in issue is zoned CC-3-8, that means it is a mixed-use zone that supports superior density. The zone allows for a optimum of one particular dwelling device for each 600 square ft of ton region, as very well as structures as tall as 100 feet without having the coastal peak restriction, in accordance to the city’s foundation zone rules. The website, even so, is positioned within a 50 percent-mile of a main transit quit, making it exempt from optimum density controls, a city spokesperson claimed.

In the situation of Rose Creek Flats, which is composed of 100 p.c very affordable units, the developer is entitled to erect three supplemental stories or build 33 toes greater than the 30-foot restrict with the condition bonus.

“This has the potential to be a true video game-changer,” explained Matthew Boomhower, who is the president of Southern Cross Home Consultants and a area land-use legal professional. “I assume this is a great illustration of HCD’s new, quite proactive tactic declaring, ‘We’re going to drive this (pro-housing) agenda and usurp community command.’”

Constructing top constraints in San Diego’s voter-outlined coastal zone have been an impediment to catalytic redevelopment in locations like the operate-down Midway District and overall housing manufacturing, he claimed.

“We know that genuine estate in San Diego is high priced. So for a developer to have a undertaking and make it pencil, it gets difficult when you’ve acquired charge inputs that are fastened, and you have a hard lid that boundaries your capability to acquire gain of (advancement incentives),” Boomhower explained. “It just grew to become a good deal easier for (developers) to line up income … for the reason that they can in fact do a sufficient quantity of units to make (their projects) get the job done.”

The Point out Density Bonus Legislation will be used at the metropolis staff members degree on a task-by-challenge basis, producing it complicated to determine the rapid implications for San Diego’s 48-acre sports activities arena web page.

Three enhancement teams are competing to lease and redo the internet site with countless numbers of flats — a lot of of which will be reserved for lessen-profits homes — and a new arena together with parks and a combine of commercial takes advantage of. The proposals are banking on a do-over ballot measure, slated for the November 2022 ballot, that if passed by a the vast majority of city voters would carry the 30-foot height limit for the overall 1,324-acre Halfway District.

The point out legislation seemingly provides an alternate route ahead for household towers on the sports arena site, while it’s not clear if a developer would be eligible for a sitewide bonus that applies to professional growth these types of as business office towers or a sporting activities entertainment venue.

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