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Del Mar sets cost of lost housing unit

DEL MAR — The cost of a lost housing unit was set at $23,508 during the Jan. 6 City Council meeting.

Last month council members approved the payment of a housing mitigation fee when a project reduces the number of dwelling units on a property, but at the time did not specify the amount.

The fee will help offset the adverse impacts of a loss of units when, for example, a duplex is converted into a single-family home.

According to a staff report, projects that deplete the housing stock by demolition are “fairly common” in Del Mar, the most frequent type being proposals to raze two units on a property and replace them with a single-family home.

“When multiple units exist on a property, there is a high likelihood that, other than the first unit, which may be owner occupied, the second and subsequent units will, at some point, be available for rent,” the staff report states.

Rental units provide greater opportunities for affordable housing than for-sale units.

The demolition of second and subsequent units on a property, therefore, has an inherent, adverse impact on affordable housing in the community and reduces the city’s overall stock of dwelling units, according to the staff report.

The city currently requires an in-lieu fee of $23,508 per unit when a property owner converts multiple units to for-sale condominiums to mitigate the negative impacts when two units that would otherwise be available for rent become available for purchase.

All money collected for both mitigation plans is placed in a designated city account used to create housing opportunities for a range of income levels in the community.

The suggested fee is far lower than what it would cost to acquire property in Del Mar and build a unit to replace the lost one as a result of the conversion, according to the staff report.

The plan is one of more than four dozen programs included in Del Mar’s state-certified housing element.

The ordinance requiring the fee was fully adopted at the Jan. 6 meeting and will become effective 30 days from that date.

The new law and fee were approved as part of the Jan. 6 consent calendar, in which several actions are adopted without discussion.