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Opinion: Marja Acres will support our economy, businesses and workers

By Bret Schanzenbach and W. Erik Bruvold

In Carlsbad, a wonderful new project – one with a variety of benefits for our community – will soon go before the city council for its consideration.

It’s called Marja Acres.

The proposed project is a mixed-use, mixed-income infill development that serves to smartly implement the City’s existing housing blueprint.  Marja Acres provides on-site affordable housing for seniors, housing opportunities for workers and young families, and features a professionally managed urban farm that will supply a newly built adjacent restaurant.

The design provides exactly the type of walkable, intergenerational environment envisioned by the City’s General Plan.  Even better, the project is located within three miles of over 30,000 jobs and is served by existing transit service on El Camino Real.

In all, 296 homes would be built, which will help the city – and North County in general – address its dire housing shortage and promote our economy.

For our economy to prosper, we must ensure there’s an adequate supply of affordable housing located near job centers.  For decades, we have added jobs without adequately providing housing for workers.  This pushes employees into long commutes and undermines important sustainability goals.  It also means these workers leave in the evening and spend their time shopping, dining or frequenting local businesses elsewhere.  Marja Acres will allow employees easy access to work and keeps them in Carlsbad to support our local economy.

It’s been said a home is where jobs go to sleep at night.  It is why economic development professionals and other regional stewards are putting more and more attention to our region’s jobs-housing balance.  When there is too little housing in relationship to job growth, we see crushing commutes or households deeply strained by a high mortgage or rent payments.

In North County, we have more work to do on our jobs-housing balance.  Between 2013 and 2019, the five cities along state Route 78, (including Carlsbad) saw local businesses grow by more than 35,000 jobs.

At the same time, those cities added only 9,140 housing units – a ratio of more than four net new jobs chasing every net new home and apartment added to inventory.  You don’t need to be an economist to see that this ongoing housing shortage has helped drive up the median price of a single-family home in Carlsbad to over $1,000,000.

The fact is, our economy will not continue to thrive unless we create more attainably priced housing for our workers.  It is vitally important we provide opportunities for our young families to live and work in Carlsbad.

For this reason, we urge the Carlsbad City Council to approve this much-needed project.

Bret Schanzenbach is President and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.  W. Erik Bruvold is CEO of the San Diego North Economic Development Council.