Here’s How I’ll Make San Diego Housing Affordable
According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego hotels have opened or plan to open 2,379 new rooms this year. And in 2020, they’ll open 1,500 more. Some experts are now saying that hotel growth is going to outpace demand between now and 2023.
Tourism is great for San Diego. It brings in massive revenue streams and fills the City’s coffers with tax dollars we can use to maintain streets and fund schools.
But San Diego is in a housing crisis. And we can’t allow hotel expansions—especially ones that might outpace actual demand—to take precedence over developing affordable housing for our residents. Nor can we allow high-priced houses to fill every inch of free land.
What’s more, a recent study found that nearly half of San Diego’s millennial population is considering leaving due to housing prices. That would be a massive blow to our city.
Some politicians—from both major parties—oppose affordable housing. They go so far as to imply that affordable housing makes their neighborhoods worse. They’re known as NIMBYs – “Not in My Back Yard.”
But I’m a YIMBY—Yes, in My Back Yard. The reason is simple: I’m a YIMBY because I believe in freedom.
And let’s be real: you’re not free if you don’t have a roof over your head. You may not be free to get a job, because you don’t have a mailing address. Or if you do have a job, you might lose it because you don’t have a reliable, safe place to sleep.
In other words, you’re under the control of your misfortune.
And you’re not free if you live in unaffordable housing, either. If you’re paying upwards of fifty percent, or more, of your monthly income in rent, you don’t have a dime left to spare, let alone save. And when you can’t save, you’re not free to start your own business, put a down payment on a mortgage, go back to school, send your kids to college, or even have a rainy day fund.
Affordable housing is a human right—and a cornerstone of individual freedom.
And I’ve got a plan to make affordable housing a reality in San Diego.
It Starts with a Public Bank
I’ve said it before, in the context of making marijuana dispensaries safer, and I’ll say it again: San Diego needs a public bank.
I’m rooting for AB857 to pass our state legislature. (Read about how great that bill is here!) But even if it doesn’t, we still have options for state-chartered banks, and I’ll fight to make that happen.
Why? Because a public bank can finance affordable housing projects run by the City. Under my plan, the public bank will provide low- or no-interest development loans directly to the City of San Diego. That means the City will be able to develop new, affordable housing for less money than it costs massive real estate developers to install unaffordable rentals and hotel rooms.
In other words, San Diego is going to participate in the housing market, and it’s going to start with a massive financial advantage.
Next, We’ll Correct the Housing Market Through Competitive Pricing
When the City offers its own affordable housing, developers will have no choice but to lower prices to stay competitive. So, not only will the City step in to make sure everyone can afford a roof over their head, it will make sure that commercial developers stop pricing out our residents.
We’ll ensure that housing prices remain low by either: (a) keeping the affordable developments under City management; (b) selling the properties to management companies that agree, in the sales contracts, to keep affordable pricing structures in place; or (c) a combination of (a) and (b).
We’ll use those profits of those properties to fund more affordable housing. And we’ll also use the money to reduce homelessness, improve mental health services, and expand other City-run services that improve all of our lives.
Here’s How We’ll Pay for It
In addition to the existing resources at the City’s disposal, we’re going to generate revenue by adding small surcharges to hotel stays.
We’ll also require large real estate developers—commercial and residential—to pay into an affordable housing fund as part of obtaining a license to build in the City. Because if you’re going to be building hotels and high-end rentals, it’s only fair that you do your part to ensure that everyone has a chance to live here.
It’s Not Going to be Easy—or Fast
Hoteliers and real estate developers are not going to like this plan. They’re going to fight hard to stop it. But I’ve never shied away from pursuing justice. I won’t now.
This plan will take time. Affordable housing can’t be built in a day. But it can be done, if we fight for it.
Are you in this fight with me?
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