Housing Affordability

Project Contact: PDS.AdvancePlanning@sdcounty.ca.gov | (858) 694-2960

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California and San Diego region are experiencing a housing crisis. While many factors have contributed to the housing crisis, the root cause is the fact that housing development has not kept pace with population growth, resulting in housing costs that have increased at a much faster rate than income levels.

In response to this need, in April 2018, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors directed Planning & Development Services (PDS) staff to investigate options that would further promote and expedite the building of homes in the unincorporated County and identify ways to close the housing gap through incentive programs and or reductions in regulations.

Project Timeline

March 2018 Board Direction
April 2018                                       Board Direction
May - July 2018 Research & Analysis
August 2018 Planning Commission Workshop (Video) 3:01-3:47
August - September 2018 Regional Workshops
Fall 2018 October 10, 2018 Board of Supervisors Meeting
Board Letter
Minute Order
2019 & Beyond Implementation of Supporting Efforts
Additional Analysis and Data Collection/Tracking
Updates to PC and Board

County of San Diego Board of Supervisors Meeting

On October 10, 2018 the Board of Supervisors (BOS), accepted the Report on Options to Improve Housing Affordability in the Unincorporated Area (Report).  

The Report identifies opportunities to address lack of housing supply and to improve areas within the control of the County such as local regulations and the local permitting processes. The Report includes a total of 19 actions within the following five categories: 

• Process & Streamlining (PS): There are a three actions is this category focused on reducing time and costs associated with the permit process. 

• Regulatory Reform (RR): There are four short term actions in this category to correct inconsistent or outdated regulations that inadvertently act as barriers to housing production. 

• Participation & Incentives (PI): There are four actions in this category to explore incentives to stimulate production of diverse housing types. 

• General Plan & Community Plans (GP): There are four actions in this category intended to implement General Plan goals and policies related to maintaining General Plan housing capacity. 

• Land Development Code (LDC): There are four actions in this category to consolidate and modernize zoning and use regulations

Some of the actions contained within these categories are already underway as part of the Planning & Development Services (PDS) work program, several have been previously directed by the BOS, and others are new efforts requiring Board direction. 

The BOS directed the Chief Administrative Office (CAO) to develop the following programs for Density Bonus, Affordable and Inclusionary Housing, Accessory Dwelling Units, Retaining General Plan Capacity, and Allowing and Encouraging Varied Housing Types. Timelines for completion are provided in bold.  

Density Bonus Program

• Develop program and return to BOS for consideration: 

o Option 1: Increase Maximum Number of Incentives and Concessions Allowed: Consider increasing the number of incentives and concessions allowed to encourage use of the Density Bonus Program.  Short Term (<1 Year)

• Develop program and return to BOS for consideration: 

o Option 2: Prepare Middle-Income Density Bonus Program: Consider analyzing and expanding the existing Density Bonus program to target middle income individuals and families earning between 120% and 150% AMI. Medium Term (1-2 Years)

Affordability and Inclusionary Housing Programs and Ordinance

• Prepare an economic feasibility analysis and criteria for: 

o Option 1: General Plan Amendment (GPA) Affordable Housing Program: Consider requiring large GPA projects (over 50 units) to include an affordable housing component. This option would provide a flexible list of compliance option. Medium Term (1-2 Years)

o Option 2: GPA Inclusionary Housing Ordinance: Consider requiring large GPA projects (over 50 units) to provide a minimum percentage of units as affordable. This option would establish a minimum percentage of affordable units required and may include deed restricted units. Medium Term (1-2 Years)

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

• Prepare plans and implement program: 

o Option 1: Pre-Approved Plans and Program Development: Consider reducing permitting time and cost by providing pre-approved ADU plans to property owners, expedite plan check review and reduced permit fees. Short Term (<1 Year)

• Develop program and return to BOS for consideration: 

o Option 2: Waiver of Impact and Permit Fees: Consider reducing permitting costs by waiving development impact (Transportation Impact Fee and Park Lands Dedication Ordinance) and permit fees (building, drainage, and septic) for a five-year trial period. Medium Term (1-2 Years)

• Prepare ordinance and return to the BOS for consideration: 

o Option 3: Junior Accessory Dwelling Units: Consider providing greater flexibility and a lower cost option by creating a Junior Accessory Dwelling category that costs less to build by converting an existing space within a house or addition and requires no additional parking. Short Term (<1 Year)

• Monitor implementation in other jurisdictions and report back to the Board in 1 year: 

o Option 4: Subsidize Construction of ADU: Consider encouraging construction of ADUs by developing a pilot program to provide bridge funding, in the form of a grant or loan, to property owners to construct an ADU in exchange for renting the ADU at an affordable rate through a deed restriction or similar mechanism. 

Explore Options to retain General Plan Capacity and Transfer of Development Rights 

• Work with stakeholders in the Alpine community to develop a transfer of development rights program for the community and incorporate this into the current update of the Alpine Community Plan.

• Defer program development and consider the impact of the General Plan Initiative: 

o Option 4: Consider impact of General Plan Initiative: Monitor outcomes of the election result for the ‘Safeguard our San Diego Countryside Initiative’ to assess its impact on a Transfer of Development Rights Program, and report back to the Board 180 days after the election with options. Long Term (>2 Years)

Allow and Encourage Varied Housing Types

  • Develop program and return to the BOS for consideration: 

o Allow and Encourage Varied Housing Types: Consider investigating housing options by expanding the range of housing types permitted, lot sizes, and reducing regulatory barriers to development. Medium Term (1-2 Years)

Housing Affordability Workshops

Workshop Summary


  1. Overview Presentation – Housing Affordability
  2. Open House – Interactive Stations
  3. Discussion – Questions & Answers

Housing Affordability Regional Workshop Central - August 28th 10:00-12:00 PM

5520 Overland, San Diego, CA 92123 (Video)

Housing Affordability Regional Workshop North - September 5th 6:00-8:00 PM
29200 Cole Grade Rd. Valley Center, CA 92082 (Map)

Housing Affordability Regional Workshop East - September 6th 6:00-8:00 PM
9841 Vine St., Lakeside, CA 92040 (Map)

Housing Affordability Regional Workshop South - September 13th 6:00-8:00 PM
11555 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon, CA 92019 (Map)