San Diego EDC Launches Inclusive Economic Growth Initiative
In February, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) launched an inclusive growth initiative to address growing concerns about the risks to San Diego’s economic development as employees and companies choose more affordable regions due to rising unaffordability and demographic shifts. The initiative aims to bring together stakeholders from government, education, business, and philanthropy to conduct research, discuss key issues, and make recommendations to local leaders. Jennifer LeSar, CEO of LeSar Development Consultants, will serve on the initiative’s steering committee in the role of a local employer and housing markets expert.
The EDC recently published a study, Future of Growth in San Diego: The Economic Case for Inclusion, outlining three specific challenges the initiative will address: the minority attainment gap, the housing affordability crisis, and the difficulty small businesses face attracting talent and remaining competitive. The EDC and the Steering Committee will meet regularly over the next year to develop its recommendations, and will provide research and progress updates on the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation website.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Approves Housing Policy Recommendations
LDC and its affiliate, Estolano LeSar Advisors, created an Affordable Housing Action Plan (AHAP) for the County of Los Angeles in late 2017. At its February 20th meeting, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved four of the housing policies recommended in the AHAP: Affordable Housing Preservation; Inclusionary Housing; Homeless Housing; and, Streamlining for certain Multifamily Developments. The Affordable Housing Preservation policy would include measures to prevent the conversion of affordable housing to market rate housing, and generate funding to provide for the rehabilitation of low-income housing. Inclusionary Housing would require developers to either build affordable housing as part of their project, or pay an in-lieu fee. And, the Streamlining policy would allow for multifamily developments to be allowed by-right in certain zones.
Berkeley Builder First to Employ New Streamlining Law
In early March, a subsidiary of Blake Griggs filed an application with the City of Berkeley for streamlined approval of a 260-unit multifamily development, becoming the first developer to invoke Senate Bill 35. The law, which went into effect January 1, 2018, allows for streamlined approval of projects in cities that have not met their regional housing needs. The City is subject to SB 35 because it has permitted less than 4% of its low-income housing as required by the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. SB 35 aims to boost the production of affordable housing statewide by streamlining the approval process in jurisdictions that have not produced adequate housing to meet population growth projections. The law has also sparked controversy about the decline of local control over housing.