San Diego County's Approval of More Housing Production Includes Policy Changes to Speed Up Developments

The Board of Supervisors agreed to spend $14.5 million to implement the policy changes

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The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a series of measures Wednesday aimed at streamlining the housing development process and increasing the number of homes being built in the county's unincorporated areas.

The three-phase development overhaul would cover housing types such as workforce, subsidized and emergency shelters.

Dahvia Lynch, Planning & Development Services director, said the measures provide "a broad suite of strategies and initiatives designed to help remove barriers to producing housing," from guaranteeing building permit review times to providing financial incentives for development.

Lynch said other county departments -- including Housing and Community Development, Public Works, Environmental Health and Quality, and the Fire Authority -- contributed to the recommended changes.

Lynch added that the county also sought feedback from stakeholders.

"Some of what's presented today, are pushing the boundaries of what we've done before," she said.

She added that PD&S made realistic cost estimates, including inflation and training staff on new procedures.

The Board of Supervisors agreed to spend $14.5 million to implement the policy changes.

Supervisors on Feb. 7 directed staff to return in 90 days with additional proposals to remove barriers, add resources and expedite the building processes to allow for more housing in unincorporated communities.

Staffers were also asked to help the county reach its "pro-housing" status -- making it just one of four counties in the state with that title -- including adopting policies similar to those of the city of San Diego. Within the first 12 months, the county will focus on:

  • guaranteed timelines for 100% affordable housing and shelters, vehicle miles traveled-efficient and infill areas, and workforce housing;
  • prioritization of contracts to support housing;
  • process improvements;
  • temporary help from the Department Environmental Health and Quality, as a one-source contracting authority;
  • over-the-counter reviews for previously approved home designs;
  • permit liaison and concierge support, along with tools and guidance, for applicants;
  • housing legislation outreach, promotion and implementation;
  • economic development liaisons;
  • an updated grading ordinance; and
  • flexibility on infrastructure requirements.

Under the plan approved Wednesday, over a one- to three-year period, the county will craft policies for tiny homes on wheels, pre-approved home plans and upgraded information technology.

Within three to five years, county staff will draft a programmatic environmental impact report for key areas, prepare land surveys and further update the grading ordinance.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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