In the Land of Rent Control, San Diego Takes a Better Approach by Saying Yes to New Housing
California and its new, restrictive statewide rent control law is the hot topic in housing news, but one mayor in the Golden State is cutting against his home state’s grain and speaking up for commonsense affordable housing policies.
Kevin Faulconer, San Diego’s mayor since 2014, recognizes that California’s tech boom – and the influx of highly compensated employees that’s resulted – is driving up the prices of a limited supply of housing options. In his city alone, the average price for a house has increased 60 percent since 2013, from $370,000 to $590,000. California is already among the most expensive states to live in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands of residents leave the state every year in search of a more affordable cost of living.
Faulconer points his finger squarely at zoning ordinances and regulations that slow the pace of construction as the culprit. In many communities, while there’s compassion for people caught in the crosshairs of the affordable housing crisis, many residents don’t want new construction or new people on their block. This Nimby (Not in My Back Yard) mindset has led to a supply shortage that’s making the jump in housing costs more severe. Homeowners with concerns about property values and changing the makeup of their neighborhoods flex their political muscles, stopping housing progress in its tracks.
Mayor Faulconer is pushing back on this counterproductive mindset and is proud to be a leader of a Yimby (Yes in My Backyard) movement in his city. The lifelong Californian insists that “affordability has never been as acute in California as it is right now.” His solution: more construction through smart rezoning and streamlined review processes. He’s repealed parking requirements for new apartments, reducing costs. He’s incentivizing density, resulting in more housing options for the people of his city. And he’s taken a holistic approach that includes significant transportation improvements, encouraging developers to build in transit corridors. These changes have led to nearly 74,000 permits issued for new homes, putting San Diego on a more sustainable path.
Faulconer and other leaders seeking pro-commonsense housing policies understand that the best solution to the housing affordability crisis is building more housing. While Sacramento politicians are pushing rent control policies on California that make the problem worse, some leaders – like San Diego’s future-focused mayor – are showing what a different, more successful approach looks like.