CARLSBAD — Housing is arguably the most pressing issue in the state.
As such, every eight years the state determines the number of housing units, known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), and distributes those totals to each county. From there, the county breaks down the total for each jurisdiction.
In San Diego County, the region was mandated to 171,685 new units for the 2021-29 cycle, according to the California Housing and Community Development Department (HCD). The San Diego Association of Governments presented the numbers during its July 26 board meeting.
“Those comments will be considered by the SANDAG board on Sept. 6,” said Debbie Fountain, Carlsbad director of community and economic development. “We did prepare the letter … and is recommending support for that methodology.”
The goal is to increase the housing supply, as California is suffering from a housing shortage. According to the state methodology, 65% of RHNA is distributed to each municipality’s relative to its share of transit stations and stops and 35% is based on the share of jobs.
Carlsbad has no major stops per the methodology, but is the region’s third largest employer at 4.76%. And since Carlsbad has a higher average income than most of the county, more affordable housing units are required.
However, the city’s RHNA allotment decreased by 1,126 units compared to the last cycle.
The proposed methodology requires the city to construct 1,310 very-low income housing, 784 low-income, 750 moderate and 1,029 above-moderate units.
The city’s very-low income housing increased by 398 units over the previous cycle, while moderate and above-moderate units decreased by 312 and 1,303, respectively. The county saw an increase of 9,695 units compared to the fifth cycle.
“We also wanted to get some acknowledgement of the great work Carlsbad has been doing for providing low-income housing,” Fountain added.
Councilwoman Cori Schumacher asked Fountain to provide clarification for the public between the fifth and sixth assessments. Fountain said if approved by SANDAG, the city would be responsible for more very low- and low-income units in the sixth cycle compared to the fifth.
Schumacher said the focus this time around is on jobs, while Fountain added the state set specific standards, such as housing being concentrated around job and transit centers.
“It’s a 65-35 split,” Fountain added. “They looked at the jobs-housing balance. They came down to this more data-driven formula.”
One change the city will face is addressing its density requirements under the Housing Element, Fountain said. As such, she said the city will struggle “a lot” with its Growth Management Plan due to the new housing requirements and methodology.
The city’s letter supports the methodology, but also states the city has made significant strides over the past 25 years due to its Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.
Over the past 25 years, and in compliance with the ordinance, nearly 2,500 affordable units have been constructed, ensuring those units are available at affordable rates for 30 or 55 years, and contributed more than $35 million of public financial assistance in partnership with the private sector to get those units built.