How San Diego housing got so expensive

The first thing Whitney Dickerson does when she gets home from work each evening is make a cup of her favorite tea....

Posted: May 14, 2018 4:07 PM
Updated: May 14, 2018 4:07 PM

The first thing Whitney Dickerson does when she gets home from work each evening is make a cup of her favorite tea.

It's because her job as a veterinary technician can be stressful.

"Everyday I go in and I don't know what's going to go through those doors," she said. "It could be a really emaciated animal with severe mange, it could be a really happy lab coming through."

But Dickerson's angst doesn't end when her shift is over. She's living paycheck to paycheck, and has moved seven times in her six years in San Diego just to find a rent she can afford.

She's now splitting a two-bedroom apartment in Talmadge, which goes for $1,874 a month. She's not sure how much more she'll be able to afford.

"I feel like the city's slowly pushing me out," she said.

Now, the rent's getting so high that it's near a tipping point for thousands of San Diegans. More than half of those who responded to a recent 10News Union-Tribune scientific poll said they'd seriously considered leaving California in the last year.

The average rent is now $1,887 a month, up 8 percent from a year earlier, according to Marketpointe Realty Advisors. And CoreLogic reports the median home price in the county is now about $550,000.

"That's a problem for everybody, and I think everybody feels that," said Rick Gentry, who heads the San Diego Housing Commission, which oversees affordable housing in the city.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Gentry describes something of a perfect storm when it comes to housing in San Diego -

1) There's not enough housing for the middle class.

2) There aren't enough resources for low-income individuals.

3) The current market has already swallowed up the glut of homes built during the housing bubble before the market crashed in 2008.

"And that means the marketplace has gotten that much more expensive and that much tighter," Gentry said. "There's no place to move to."

Gentry added turnover has declined drastically at the 3,400 affordable apartments the commission manages, and the section 8 voucher waiting list has ballooned to 80,000.

Plus, San Diego County continues to grow with more jobs - employers added 27,000 new payroll positions in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, developers in the county only pulled permits for 10,000 new homes.

"It takes a long, long time to get approvals for buildings to put new product online," said Mark Goldman, a real estate lecturer at San Diego State University. "There are more and more impact fees that makes it more expensive, there's a limited amount of land to do it."

Goldman said it's a very complicated, risky business to start with a piece of vacant land and try to put a lot of housing on it.

He said the amount of time that it takes given environmental review, regulations, and delays raises the cost of projects - to the point that some developers just drop it.

WHAT WILL SOLVE THE CRISIS?

There is movement in the works to spur development, including a region-wide plan to encourage development along transit routes. The city of San Diego also recently approved streamlining complexes with microunits and fewer parking requirements in these areas.

The state also has a new law that allows the Housing Commission to make loans for the development of multifamily complexes that are affordable to middle income earners.

But until the prices come down, renters like Dickerson will be bracing for when their leases end.

"If they go another $200-$300 like a lot of places are doing," she said, "I'm probably going to have to move again."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 660942

Reported Deaths: 12556
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion905601638
Lake48352874
Allen35762635
Hamilton32026396
St. Joseph29865511
Elkhart25350414
Vanderburgh21225377
Tippecanoe19977200
Johnson16319356
Porter15938269
Hendricks15801300
Clark11928180
Madison11730316
Vigo11578229
Monroe10312161
Delaware9830179
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Howard9047196
Kosciusko8549109
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Warrick7403150
Hancock7394130
Floyd7189169
Wayne6630191
Grant6422157
Morgan6075125
Boone607288
Dubois5895111
Dearborn546866
Cass543399
Henry541793
Marshall5417104
Noble508578
Jackson464366
Shelby460190
Lawrence4179111
Gibson400881
Harrison398763
Clinton395053
Montgomery386283
DeKalb384678
Miami356763
Knox356485
Whitley348936
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Steuben337855
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White297252
Jefferson294473
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Posey260531
Wells257674
Scott249950
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Randolph225576
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Jennings214744
Washington210427
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Starke187951
Owen181953
Fulton178237
Jay177628
Carroll176418
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Rush164322
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Franklin159335
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Parke138815
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Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
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Martin80014
Warren75513
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53211
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 966154

Reported Deaths: 17237
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1116881202
Cuyahoga953321735
Hamilton73102963
Montgomery47187886
Summit40041955
Butler35377468
Lucas35149761
Stark29267838
Warren22334274
Lorain21938389
Mahoning19373541
Lake18335305
Clermont18304210
Delaware16385135
Licking14923200
Fairfield14476157
Trumbull14270461
Greene13536213
Medina13327218
Clark12210335
Wood11481193
Portage10958159
Allen10761235
Richland10236205
Miami9999189
Muskingum8139129
Columbiana8094182
Pickaway8022101
Tuscarawas8012235
Marion7973137
Wayne7843219
Erie6852184
Ross6114136
Geauga6036128
Hancock5973112
Ashtabula5928144
Scioto5911104
Lawrence522474
Union509752
Darke5021124
Belmont490189
Huron4776117
Jefferson4770108
Sandusky475595
Seneca4648103
Athens461232
Washington459387
Mercer4581101
Auglaize454898
Shelby440769
Knox400586
Putnam3982101
Madison391447
Ashland378395
Fulton377564
Defiance3706102
Brown368842
Crawford356196
Logan352959
Preble352471
Clinton339364
Highland326855
Ottawa322367
Williams301477
Jackson288556
Guernsey285734
Champaign285146
Fayette267644
Perry267143
Morrow258925
Henry245465
Hardin243656
Holmes2430104
Coshocton233847
Van Wert228849
Gallia221346
Adams215432
Pike214428
Wyandot209053
Hocking193449
Carroll180228
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Meigs134637
Noble128442
Monroe116036
Morgan100534
Harrison100132
Vinton76615
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