Building for a better San Diego

(Jeeheon Cho)

While the rate of residential and commercial construction is expected to dip in 2020, this is not the case for construction related to affordable housing projects in the San Diego area.

The need for affordable housing in San Diego County has reached a state of crisis. There simply cannot be enough affordable housing projects at this point.

The development of thousands of new rental units, such as multifamily unit apartment buildings, can make a difference – but only if those units meet the economic guidelines for affordable housing.

Consider this. The average renter spends about one-third of their monthly income for housing. According to government guidelines, this means that someone who makes $40,000 annually can afford $800 a month for a one-bedroom unit or $1,000 month for a two-bedroom unit.

San Diego could absorb 7,000 affordable housing units quickly. This insatiable demand requires an all-hands on deck effort.

Even though there are no easy answers or solutions, steps are being made at the city, county and state levels to address this ongoing concern. Incentive programs for builders and developers is attracting attention in the building community.

The Murfey Company supports the city of San Diego’s policy that requires developers to include rent-restricted units within its market-rate projects. This inclusionary policy has evolved into an ordinance with a number of compromises, including a requirement that developers designate 10 percent of a development’s units as affordable to families who make 60 percent of the median income, which is around $86,000 annually for a family of four. Although this new requirement is a slightly tougher standard than the current 65 percent, it is not as generous as the originally proposed ordinance that required the income threshold at 50 percent.

Another facet of this proposed ordinance is to double the building fee for developers who by choice do not meet the city’s inclusionary standards. In turn the fees collected will be used to build or subsidize affordable housing. Charging additional fees is not the answer; government agencies need to pave the way for a more streamlined permitting process in order to help provide additional housing supply to be built.

Murfey Company, a leader in residential and nonresidential development in San Diego and Southern California, continues to be part of the solution to meet the demand for affordable housing. The firm is dedicated to building affordable housing as a developer of its own projects as well as a third-party builder for developers who seek are seeking a construction company to team up with. For more information, visit