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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1474289

Reported Deaths: 20385
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2021122504
Lake996361476
Allen909861007
Hamilton71271540
St. Joseph63433750
Elkhart48401623
Vanderburgh46765523
Tippecanoe42550330
Johnson37591519
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Porter34097464
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Monroe22397244
Howard21556372
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Warrick16259212
Wayne15851300
Floyd15521252
Grant14992296
Morgan14070230
Boone13268136
Noble11509140
Dearborn11468112
Henry11427201
Shelby11276150
Marshall11115167
Dubois10954152
Jackson10280104
Cass10012142
DeKalb10005129
Lawrence9973220
Huntington9893139
Gibson9236125
Montgomery9105140
Knox8839124
Harrison8754111
Whitley850471
Steuben8403103
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Clinton800194
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Jefferson7663124
Wabash7651139
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Scott632686
White606581
Greene5958111
Clay592773
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Wells5831120
Jennings578976
Fayette5687121
Posey535146
LaGrange517096
Randolph4972129
Washington487068
Owen484998
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Spencer441856
Starke435686
Sullivan433465
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Parke308938
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Brown223654
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Switzerland192414
Martin184622
Warren170820
Union164419
Ohio120616
Unassigned0742

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2418722

Reported Deaths: 31245
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2613932065
Cuyahoga2576953018
Hamilton1679311714
Montgomery1114691604
Summit1070311391
Lucas899971160
Butler79406942
Stark750951400
Lorain63061792
Warren50411475
Mahoning49909915
Lake46923605
Clermont44079429
Delaware39138212
Trumbull38726755
Medina37708419
Licking37221408
Fairfield34115334
Greene32452422
Portage31473360
Clark30496445
Richland28493423
Wood27867297
Allen24603395
Miami23075395
Muskingum22525245
Columbiana22202403
Wayne21380356
Tuscarawas18940427
Erie18137222
Ashtabula17989342
Marion17633232
Scioto16712207
Ross16314252
Pickaway15631178
Hancock15407228
Geauga15281223
Lawrence13931186
Huron13460182
Union1340984
Belmont13369247
Jefferson12969258
Sandusky12862199
Athens11991106
Knox11595198
Seneca11540200
Ashland10830178
Darke10786198
Washington10644168
Auglaize10247142
Crawford9949175
Shelby9839157
Brown9507140
Fulton9310150
Guernsey9179117
Defiance9116135
Highland9100148
Logan9035142
Clinton8810127
Mercer8709111
Madison8654106
Preble8069162
Williams7937135
Putnam7780135
Ottawa7675121
Champaign7606112
Jackson7409117
Perry720798
Coshocton7076136
Morrow700182
Fayette670987
Hardin6251128
Pike621786
Gallia598191
Adams5844124
Van Wert5824121
Henry570793
Hocking5568104
Carroll4853100
Wyandot485290
Holmes4760161
Paulding404464
Meigs377473
Monroe300268
Noble281551
Harrison281361
Morgan278148
Vinton240845
Unassigned08
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