San Diego housing plan passes without SB 10 but city will ‘workshop' controversial bill

SB 10 would allow developers to build multi-family buildings on single-family lots

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Members of San Diego's planning commission voted unanimously on Thursday to move forward with a proposed housing package without the inclusion of SB 10, a controversial high-density bill, but, for now, the implementation of the bill is still possible for the city.

The controversial housing plan Senate Bill 10, which sparked protests over the weekend, was up for a vote before the city of San Diego’s Planning Commission Thursday after extensive, hours-long public comments.

There were six hours of debate and dozens of public commenters at the marathon meeting, with everyone agreeing that San Diego is missing housing for middle income people, acknowledging that there are a lot of single family homes and some apartment buildings, but there aren't as many multi-family homes and town houses.

Many public commenters came out to support the idea of SB 10, saying that it would give developers more ways to build more middle-income housing, but there were also lots of people who opposed the bill's inclusion in the housing package, stating concerns about how it could change San Diego.

The motion, however, is just a recommendation — the city council can still decide it wants to move forward with SB 10 regardless. NBC 7's Priya Sridhar has the details.

The possibility of SB 10 coming into play in San Diego, has not completely faded: Members expressed concern about the irreversibility of moving forward with it, though, and a motion was made by the commission to workshop SB 10 to find out its potential consequences for San Diego.

This state law passed last year and so far, only one rural city has adopted it, so San Diego would have been the largest city by far to have adopted the proposal.

Ultimately the members of the planning commission said there just haven't been enough studies or research done about what the potential consequences could be and they didn't feel comfortable moving forward with it just yet.

The motion, however, is just a recommendation — the city council can still decide it wants to move forward with SB 10 regardless.

However, later in the afternoon, NBC 7 received an email from Mayor Todd Gloria's office saying that may be unlikely.

"The proposal to create more 'missing middle' homes through local implementation of Senate Bill 10 will not proceed to council committee in September," mayoral spokesman David Rolland wrote. "This provides time for the working group to workshop the policy."

SB 10, which was signed into law in 2021, in part, allows local governments the authority to zone up to 10 residential units in certain “transit-rich areas” or “urban infill sites." Under the city of San Diego's Housing Action Package 2.0, there were plans to implement SB 10 locally.

On the webpage for the package, it reads in part, "the Housing Action Package 2.0 aims to implement state law to allow the construction of more new homes near transit, provide protections to existing residents and increase the supply of land available for new home development."

NBC 7's Omari Fleming spoke with a homeowner upset at a multi-unit complex towering over his single-family home.

Homeowners like Eric Rosenzweig are outraged at what ADUs are already doing to his neighborhood.

“It’s horrible! It's a total loss of privacy," he told NBC 7.

A seven-unit ADU has a front-row panoramic view, not only into, Rosenzweig's backyard-- but inside his family's  College Area home of more than 20 years.

"It’s a total invasion. My wife, looking out her kitchen window would cry every day looking at what was being built. So we bought a big tree to block that view to give us privacy and that sanctuary, " he said from his backyard.

While the development behind and across the street from Rosenzweig is a function of the city's bonus ADU program, he, like some others, is concerned about what SB10 could do to the character of some of San Diego's oldest neighborhoods, once full of single-family homes.

It would allow up to 10 and sometimes more units to be built on larger lots,  previously intended for single-family homes, if it's near a transit site.

This week, the Planning Commission will vote on their Housing Action package 2.0.

"I’m a fan of housing. It’s one more tool that we need to give people in San Diego, housing for their needs," said Mission Hills resident, Wesley Morgan. "I don't think it's necessarily the zoning. It’s inviting people who have less income."

His views are at odds with fellow Mission Hills resident Patty Ducey-Brooks.

“We will become a landlord-owned city, with more and more land taken over by investors, there will never be a chance for homeowners to invest in the future."

“I think we need to just provide more options for people,” explained Thomas DeFranco of YIMBY Democrats SD. "Housing options like renting for a short-term amount of time allow those people to potentially save up and then be able to afford a single-family home even later. "

With the possibility of SB10 passing, also comes infrastructure concerns.

“SB10 will say you can really put an apartment in the middle of a single-family neighborhood with no parking, no accounting for infrastructure. Water, sewer, cable none of that stuff, " said Rosenzweig.

Leading opponents of SB 10 wonder what San Diego's single-family neighborhoods will look like in the future.

“Devastation to the city of San Diego, which is beautiful,” says Ducey-Brooks. It's a city we love. The character and lifestyle, they’re going to take that all away. "

“Our communities are meant to be changed,” said DeFranco. “We're not going to see single-family communities all of a sudden, overnight be raised and put apartments in."

NBC 7's Priya Sridhar contributed to this report — Ed.

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