A Vote to Increase Housing Density Will Have Dramatic Local Consequences

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Submitted by Brad Gerbel 

Coronado politicians talk about opposing increased density, but rarely do they actually get a chance to vote on the issue. After all, housing plans are primarily controlled by state and regional policies.

On May 25, 2018, the regional governing body, SANDAG, voted to increase housing density throughout San Diego County. Coronado’s representative that day was Councilman Bill Sandke. Instead of voting to protect our community from more density, Councilman Sandke voted with developers and the big cities in our county and voted against Coronado.

The state of California requires all regions to accommodate a certain number of housing units within a specific timeframe via a process called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). The number of new housing units is then distributed to each local jurisdiction, including Coronado. To complete the process, local governments must update their housing plans to include greater density based on the housing units allocated.

Although SANDAG staff recommended a RHNA number of just 116,000, during its May 25, 2018 meeting, Councilman Sandke voted twice to approve 171,000 new housing units instead – a 47% increase!

In trying to explain his vote to his City Council colleagues at the following City Council meeting, Councilman Sandke looked like the cat that ate the canary and said, “it’s a regional issue.”

It may be a regional issue, but is has dramatic local consequences.

How will Coronado absorb more housing units? One can speculate that it will mean more lot splits, expanding the multifamily zone, doing away with height restrictions, all leading to a reduction in our quality of life here in Coronado. What’s worse is that if Coronado doesn’t approve the prescribed new housing units, developers can go to the state and have their projects approved by Sacramento bureaucrats.

Councilman Sandke had a rare opportunity to stand up for our community, instead [he] became the “homegrown” kid that sold out Coronado.

Brad Gerbel 

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Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.”Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com