The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 March 15 to approve updates to the Housing Element and Safety Element of the county’s general plan.
“San Diego is in a housing crisis,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “Increasing the supply of housing for all income levels is important to our economic vitality as a region.”
The Housing Element is intended to ensure that regional housing needs are met. State law requires each jurisdiction to ensure that adequate capacity is available to meet future housing needs of low-income and moderate-income households.
Based on 2010 census data unincorporated San Diego County was allocated a Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) for the 2010-20 period of 22,412 residential units consisting of 2,095 very low-income (50 percent or less of the area median income) units, 1,585 low-income (51 to 80 percent of the median income) units, 5,864 moderate-income (81 to 120 percent of the median income) units, and 12,877 above moderate-income (more than 120 percent of the median income) units.
The land use map of the county’s updated general plan, which was adopted in 2011, has the capacity to accommodate more than 64,000 dwelling units, so the RHNA for above moderate-income housing was satisfied.
The update notes that the number of housing units built since 2010 has increased from 838 when the 2013 version of the Housing Element was prepared to 3,221 at the time the new Housing Element was prepared. The 305 affordable housing units increased to 807 for the update.
The Board of Supervisors approved an updated Housing Element in 2013 which included a sites inventory identifying potential locations for the development of very low-income, low-income, and moderate-income
housing. County staff identified parcels with residential designation of 10.9 to 30 units per acre, which would support multi-family development, and used aerial photographs and parcel-specific constraint data to evaluate each site’s potential for development.
Non-vacant sites were considered underutilized if they met two of the three criteria of the assessed value of the land being greater than the assessed value of the improvements, a primary structure built at least 30 years ago, and an allowed residential density at least three times greater than the current number of residents.
The updated data indicates a potential for an additional 658 affordable housing units in the Fallbrook Community Planning Area and 180 affordable units in the Bonsall Community Planning Area. All of the Bonsall homes would be moderate-income housing while Fallbrook’s affordable housing would consist of 376 very low-income units, 188 low-income units, and 94 moderate-income units.
The changes reflect the adoption of a segment of the county’s Live Well San Diego initiative which includes the housing-related strategies of supporting the availability and affordability of housing for all community members, creating more accessible housing for seniors and the disabled so that they can live independently, and expanding crime-free apartments and other multi-family housing.
A revised prediction of population in the unincorporated area reduces the expected 2050 population from 692,917 to 647,233, which corresponds to a decrease from 42 percent growth to 33 percent over the 2010 population of 486,614.
The estimated 2050 population includes 57,505 residents of the Fallbrook Community Planning Area, 44,722 people in the Camp Pendleton-De Luz area which includes the Marine Corps base as well as land under county jurisdiction, 14,563 residents in Bonsall, 8,058 residents of the Pala-Pauma planning area, and 2,930 residents of Rainbow.
Between 2010 and 2015 the number of housing units increased from 15,929 to 16,285 in Fallbrook, from 7,531 to 7,537 for Pendleton-De Luz, from 3,875 to 3,933 in Bonsall, and from 708 to 721 in Rainbow. A housing unit is defined as a house, apartment, mobile home, group of rooms, or single room as a separate living quarter. The number of housing units in the Pala-Pauma community planning area decreased from 1,980 to 1,933 between 2010 and 2015. The total number of housing units in the unincorporated county increased from 170,608 to 173,246.
The Housing Element predicts the number of 2050 housing units to be 222,932 for the entire unincorporated county, including 20,584 in Fallbrook, 9,351 in Pendleton-De Luz, 5,328 in Bonsall, 2,865 in Pala-Pauma, and 1,099 in Rainbow.
The median age of the entire unincorporated county changed from 36.9 in 2010 to 36.3 in 2015. During that period the Fallbrook median age decreased from 39.5 to 38.3, the Pendleton-DeLuz median increased from 21.9 to 22.0, the Bonsall median age changed from 46.3 to 40.9, the Pala-Pauma median declined from 41.8 to 37.4, and the Rainbow median age rose from 32.4 to 44.0.
The Pendleton-DeLuz median age is the lowest in unincorporated San Diego County. The highest median age, at 55.7 in 2010 and 56.2 in 2015, is for the Desert planning area.
The County Islands planning area led unincorporated San Diego County in the Hispanic percentage of the 2015 population with 74.99 percent. The 41.77 percent Hispanic population of Rainbow ranked fourth and Fallbrook’s 41.54 percent Hispanic population ranked sixth.
Pala-Pauma ranked ninth with a Hispanic population of 37.18 percent and Bonsall was 11th among the 24 planning areas with 30.35 of the population being Hispanic. The Pendleton-De Luz area was 20.75 percent Hispanic in 2015 while that planning area’s black percentage of 7.87 percent ranked third behind Spring Valley and Otay.
Rainbow’s black percentage of 0.47 percent ranked last in the unincorporated county.
The update replaced a 2010 poverty level survey with a 2014 survey. The percentage of primary household members under 25 below the poverty level increased from 15.4 percent to 24 percent, the percentage below the poverty level for households between the ages of 25 and 44 rose from 8.2 percent to 13 percent, households between 45 and 64 had an increase from 6.1 percent to 10 percent, and households led by those 65 or over changed from 3 percent to 6 percent being below the poverty level.
The state’s Employment Development Department conducts wage surveys, and the average annual wage in the San Diego region was adjusted from the 2011 survey to the 2015 survey. Although the average for all wage earners increased from $50,800 to $54,210, the average annual wage of a farm worker decreased from $26,000 to $25,950.
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless conducts annual point-in-time counts of the unsheltered homeless, and based on the 2011 and 2015 surveys the number of unsheltered homeless residents in unincorporated San Diego County increased from 181 to 214.
The Safety Element updates incorporate changes to the county’s building and other codes intended to improve fire safety and emergency medical services response time.
The Safety Element previously required development within Village areas to utilize design and planning techniques to deter crime, and the update notes that examples of such features include avoiding landscaping which might create blind spots or hiding places, centrally locating recreational areas or other open spaces so they are visible from nearby homes and streets.
Other cited features included designing streets to discourage cut-through or high-speed traffic, designing features such as paving and columned gateways to guide visitors to desired entrances and away from private areas, installing walkways in areas safe for pedestrians, designing lots and streets to encourage interaction between neighbors, mixed land uses which increase activity on the street, and designing buildings so that occupants can view streets and public areas.
The county’s Planning Commission recommended the update on a 4-0 vote Feb. 10 with three commissioners not present.