Blog note: this article references two grand jury reports: one in 2017, the other in 2015.
Faced with growing calls to free up city-owned land for much-needed affordable housing, San Diego officials last week reported they had taken a closer look at how they comply with a state law meant to encourage low-income projects on city property. They didn’t find anything required changing.
A draft document released Friday says the city already follows the California Surplus Land Act, which requires cities and counties to tell other local agencies and interested developers when it plans to sell a property.
That statute also says that future low-income housing construction should be prioritized in making decisions on who to sell to.
The San Diego Union-Tribune in February reported that low-income housing developers had not been clued in on such land sales for at least the past decade. Property records show only one of the dozens of surplus city parcels put up for sale or lease since 2007 has been turned into affordable homes.
Four months later, members of a civil grand jury asked the city to examine how it tells developers about unused properties in an effort to ensure that those trying to build affordable housing have state-mandated access to the parcels.
The city’s 14-page response reassures grand jurors that officials provide notice of city-owned land sales to all “housing sponsors” who put in a written request to be told about the listings. It says they also post property listings online and inform commercial real estate brokers, as well as community planning groups, about the parcels.
It’s not clear what new steps, if any, were considered to make sure affordable housing developers are kept in the loop. Andrea Tevlin — the city’s Independent Budget Analyst and the official responsible for approving last week’s grand jury response — said an upcoming internal review could result in revisions to existing land sale notification practices. She said she could not yet provide further details on the scope of that review.
Friday’s report says San Diego has also adopted other recommendations made by grand jurors in June, including those meant to increase transparency and ensure compliance with city affordable housing development rules.
The city in 2015 said it needed more time to analyze a grand jury proposal to address a shortage of public restrooms downtown. The lack of such facilities has since been linked to an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 15 people and sickened 350 others.
San Diego’s latest grand jury response is scheduled for a Sept. 13 hearing in front of the city’s select committee on homelessness.
September 6, 2017
The San Diego Union-Tribune
By James DeHaven