SOLANA BEACH — After two years of work to bring the city’s 6th cycle housing element into compliance with state guidelines, the Solana Beach City Council has re-submitted the document in hopes of earning final certification.
Solana Beach is one of several cities that has been communicating back and forth with state housing officials regarding its housing element, which cities are required to update every eight years with their plans to implement and support new housing.
The city submitted the first draft of its element to the state Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) in early 2021, and since then, has received several rounds of feedback regarding needed clarifications.
HCD officials finally granted conditional approval in April, pending final adoption by the City Council, which members gave wholeheartedly at a May 10 meeting. The Del Mar City Council also submitted its housing element last month.
“I’m glad that we’ve been able to get to the point where we’re at, and looking forward to getting an approved housing element by the state,” said Solana Beach Councilmember Dave Zito, who thanked staff for all their efforts. “You’ve been working nonstop on this for four years now.”
Solana Beach is obligated to construct 875 units for the cycle period ending in 2029, including 474 units designated for income levels ranging from very low to extremely low.
The city has so far approved entitlements for 152 units that will be counted toward their housing requirements, the majority for moderate to above-moderate income levels.
Due to a lack of vacant land in Solana Beach, city leaders are counting on mixed-use developments to supply many of the needed units. One example is the Solana 101 project at Coast Highway 101 and Dahlia Drive, which will offer 25 residential units along with office and retail space when it is completed later this year.
“Since we are predominantly non-vacant sites, that’s how we’re addressing our housing element,” Community Development Director Joseph Lim said.
Another 62 of the approved units will come from the Solana Highlands renovation project, which also includes 32 low-income units. The rest are from smaller developments including new single-family homes and accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.
Solana Beach initially pushed back against the assigned number of units from the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, joining three other cities in a lawsuit arguing that the San Diego Association of Governments had issued allocations inequitably.
However, city officials have since accepted this obligation since the suit was dismissed in 2021.
“This city and this current council still is not happy about the way that process worked,” Zito said. “We vigorously opposed the RHNA number that we got because we didn’t think it was reasonable or equitable in the region, but we also know what our duty is, and we’ve done a very good job with respect to making sure we’re meeting that number.”
Lim said the major revisions from HCD focused on site suitability, with the city submitting more details regarding how they planned to implement housing in commercial areas.
He also shared a positive update regarding Solana Beach’s progress with ADU construction. The city has received around 100 ADU applications in the last three and a half years, 62 of which have been granted permits, putting the city well on their way to meeting their goal of 128 new ADUs by 2029.
“We are far exceeding the estimate,” Lim said.
The council kept its discussion of the revisions brief, eager to have it off the city’s plate.
“We’re ready to vote for this, send it off to HCD, get it certified,” said Mayor Lesa Heebner.