Why Most Infill Housing Can and Should Be Affordable Housing

Infill Housing is what's built on the precious few remaining vacant parcels and/or lot-splits in our communities. Because of the scarcity of buildable land in San Diego, the City is looking to a new land inventory which they report and reconcile annually to the State. The City of San Diego has 52 Plan Areas where they have identified these sites.  Within the Boundaries of the Morena Specific Plan, there are 2 site areas (map below) where  the city wants to up-zone (change the existing underlying zoning) to allow for a total of 3300 new living units. Unfortunately, the city is willing to settle for luxury apartments (market rate units) in these areas that desperately need affordable housing. The type of affordable housing matters. The most needed are for-sale units that classify as work-force housing (low-income limits). These are homes that a family of four with an income no higher than $79,300 to $104,000 would qualify for using standard underwriting ratios for debt and income. The irony is that this type of workforce housing is exactly what the development in the 1950's drew to the area; teachers, police, firemen.

The simple solution for making workforce affordable housing profitable for commercial home-builders is to change current incentives. Instead of granting density bonuses or charging in-lieu fees, the City could remove and reduce development fees in direct relationship to profit margins that builders achieve with market-rate housing.

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