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Letter to the Editor – March 10, 2017

Posted: March 10th, 2017 | Featured, Letters to the editor | No Comments

Housing and wages

Re: “District 7 Dispatch: Housing Summit marks begging to fix San Diego’s housing crisis” [Volume 11, Issue 2 or bit.ly/2mDy2Kd]

I recently read 7th District Councilmember Scott Sherman’s column concerning the upcoming Housing Summit, his take on the housing crisis here in San Diego, and wish to comment. While I appreciate Councilmember Sherman’s attention to the matter, I find his apparent solutions to be missing the mark.

It is true that San Diegans spend more of their monthly income on housing than those that live in San Francisco. The reason for this is not that housing prices are lower in the Bay Area than in San Diego, it’s because the wages here in San Diego are depressed and do not keep up with the rising cost of housing.

This is the 800-pound gorilla in the room that Councilmember Sherman, and many that think like him, wish to ignore. Councilmember Sherman talks of a multifaceted approach to the problem, but leaves out the very important issue of depressed wages. If I recall, Councilmember Sherman did not approve of the recent raise in the minimum wage here in San Diego, despite his claims to want to find a solution to the housing crisis.

I object to the idea that giving further incentives to developers will bring down the cost of housing in the area. This is always the “go-to” solution that really is code for reducing regulations for developers that really, in the end, do little to nothing to bring affordable housing to most of those that live and work here.

Does anyone believe that a developer that saves a few thousand dollars by reduced development fees, or regulatory relief, will pass this savings onto a home buyer or by reducing rent? It’s not the San Diego business model. As an example, not too long ago it was revealed that the city of San Diego was allowing developers, at their construction sites, to get free city water. This was a savings to a developer’s overall costs but never showed up in any savings to a home buyer or renter.

At the time, San Diego housing costs were at an all-time high. Any savings from getting free water went into the developers’ pockets. Besides, most, if not all, developers here in the San Diego area do very well financially so why give them any more incentives? It seems that many developers have reams of cash available to lobby and give away in philanthropic ventures, but these same development interests ignore, or even fight, addressing the wage issue here in San Diego.

Any multifaceted approach to the issue of housing here must address wages. I am also for getting rid of redundant regulations or streamlining the regulatory process, but only if these processes actually go to fixing the problem and not making the rich even richer.

—Stuart Rachmuth, Mission Valley

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