California Dolphin: statewide California news

How the region could end the housing crunch

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Families across the San Diego region are continuing to battle record high home prices and rents. But there are now several plans in the works to boost supply - and hopefully bring prices down. "There's no magic bullet, no magic wand," said Rick Gentry, who heads the San Diego Housing Commission. "I don't see there's one solution. There are a host of solutions that we can bring to bear that over time will reduce the problem." Jimmy Ayala, who heads Pardee Homes of San Diego, says the biggest change that could lower prices is reducing the time it takes to get permits. He says builders can work impact fees into their budgets, but over-regulation and delays from community opposition adds costs to projects that cause some developers to shy away. FULL COVERAGE: Making It in San Diego "If you start on this day and perhaps you end on a more certain date, then more people would enter the industry, more people would enter the market, we'd eventually get more homes," Ayala said, noting that Pardee's 415-home master plan community in Santee called Weston took 10 years for approvals. Local and state governments appear to be on board. The city of San Diego is now offering density bonuses and streamlined review for some projects . It also is encouraging builders add more, smaller units in the same building, with less parking requirements. The county is exploring other options to reduce hurdles to development. That, however, is adding to some San Diego neighborhood group concerns about overdevelopment. "My group and my associates just want to see it remain a nice place to live," said Tom Mullaney, who heads Uptown United. "We think we can do that with lots of new development and lots of new housing, but we can't do it if our city government is going to throw out the rule book." Additionally, the San Diego Housing Commission is now able to help finance apartment projects with units for middle income earners, according to a new state law . "The challenge for us is how do we develop lower than market rate product for this new customer base without taking away from the customer base that we've traditionally served," Gentry said, noting turnover has dropped drastically at its 3,400 affordable apartments in San Diego. Mark Goldman, a real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, said it would take decades to really balance out supply and demand. But he said any assurances could ease risk for developers who may not want to get involved. "You don't know when you're going to get that potential profit dollar," he said. "So yes, time is money."

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