July Housing Roundup

A Busy Month

July was a busy month for the Housing Committee.  We spent quite a lot of time at the San Diego City Council, tracking five important issues:

  • A $900M affordable housing bond, proposed by the San Diego Housing Federation
  • A proposal to ban discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders
  • A proposal to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (hotel tax)
  • A proposal to build Permanent Supportive Housing in all Council districts
  • A proposal to increase the “Inclusionary Requirement,” that forces developers to include affordable housing in their developments, or pay a fee so the San Diego Housing Commission can fund affordable housing

Members of the Housing Committee were present when all these issues were discussed, advocating for more affordable housing in San Diego.  The outcomes were mixed.

The Housing Bond

The $900M housing bond would have made a substantial dent in the city’s deficit of affordable housing, at a very modest cost to the average homeowner.  Homeowners (especially white homeowners) are and have been subsidized in very many ways by our government, and a hundred or two dollars per year would not hold a candle to these subsidies.  For example, the Federal government spends twice as much per year in tax credits to homeowners (or homesellers) as it does on all housing subsidies for the poor.

Sadly, this much needed housing bond was withdrawn by its proponent, the San Diego Housing Federation, due to the Mayor’s proposal to renovate the Civic Center, which includes a half-hearted pledge to perhaps spend a little money on homelessness.

Section 8 Discrimination Ban

Councilmember Georgette Gómez brought forth a proposal to ban discrimination in housing based on source of income.  This would apply to Section 8 voucher holders and also some others, such as  homeless people who are given vouchers. We spoke in favor of this at both the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee (where it was referred to Council without recommendation, on a 2-2 vote) and at the full Council (where it passed, 7-1.)  We view this as a very positive development; Section 8 voucher holders are overwhelmingly people of color, and to denial of housing to Section 8 holders is often a simple proxy for racial discrimination.

Transient Occupancy Tax

Councilmember David Alvarez proposed a ballot initiative to raise the Hotel Tax to provide a new source of funding for the Homeless.  This increase in the hotel tax would provide approximately the same amount of funding the City of San Diego currently spends on Homeless services; we support it strongly and hope to see pass in November.  We did, however, warn the City that we would watch them closely, and see that this funding was not used to replace other monies, as is sometimes done, but would result in a net funding increase.

Permanent Supportive Housing in All Districts

Councilmember Ward made a proposal to set a goal to build 140 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) in each of our 9 Council districts.  This would yield enough units to house San Diego’s 1200 “chronically homeless” people.  The “chronically homeless” are people who are disabled, physically or mentally, to the point where they simply cannot get it sufficiently together to get or keep stable housing.  “Permanent Supportive Housing” means these folks get housing units that are not only very inexpensive, but also have other services available, such as onsite health services, caseworkers, etc.  It is truly the only way to get these folks off the streets (except for the Mayor’s method, which involves jail.)  PSH is not necessarily literally permanent; some folks do improve to the point where they no longer need supportive services; this is, however, quite rare in our red-hot real estate market.  Dr Branch served as our spokesman:

We are pleased to note that this item passed was approved by the San Diego City Council Select Committee on Homelessness and should be docketed for the full council sometime early this fall.

The Inclusionary Requirement

Housing developers are subject to an “Inclusionary Requirement,” which means they are required to include a certain percentage of affordable housing in their developments.  When the inclusionary requirement was passed 15 years ago, it was set to 10% of the units in a housing development needed to be affordable for non-affluent people.  (Developers were allowed instead to pay a fee of ~$10 per square foot instead, for the City to use to support its own affordable housing efforts; you will see this referred to as an “In Lieu” fee.  The Council has voted to revisit this requirement; the intent is to see it raised to that more affordable housing is developed.  We spoke in favor of this also.

The State of California does an assessment of housing needs in each area; for San Diego, they said our needs for 2010-2020 were:

Overall, we’ve built a little less than half of what we need to build; the shocking thing is the vast majority (85% of it) is aimed at the affluent:

We therefore support forcing developers to build more affordable housing.

Questions?  Please contact the housing committee at [email protected].

Watch: NAACP Supports Independent Police Oversight

On July 11th, NAACP San Diego Branch President André Branch spoke in favor of Women Occupy San Diego’s proposed charter amendment to turn the CRB into the CPP – Commission on Police Practices. The measure passed the Rules Committee on a party line 3-2 vote, and goes on to the full Council, who will decide if it goes on the November ballot.

The fight for more independent oversight of the SDPD isn’t over, but we won this battle.

NAACP San Diego Supports Hotel Tax Increase for Homeless

 

Steve Dorner from the Housing Committee communicates the NAACP San Diego Branch’s support of the initiative proposed by Councilmember Alvarez.  This initiative would raise the Transient Occupancy Tax (Hotel Tax) by 1%, and advise the Mayor to dedicate that 1% increase to reducing Homelessness.

Mr Dorner also put the Council on notice that should the measure pass, the NAACP will watch closely to see that the Mayor and Council follow the direction to spend the money on the Homeless.

Watch: NAACP San Diego Supports Affordable Housing Bond

Steve Dorner spoke on July 11th in favor of the $900M bond issue by the San Diego Housing Federation, which would provide 7500 new units of affordable housing. The measure passed the Rules Committee on a party line 3-2 vote, and goes on to the full Council, who will decide if it goes on the November ballot.

2018 San Diego City Council District 4 Primary Candidate Forum

The San Diego NAACP would like to thank the three candidates who showed interest in and respect for the NAACP membership and the public for coming to our Candidate Forum on April 28th.

We appreciate their time and their attention to our community.  We had a chair empty for Ms Myrtle Cole, who did not respond to our repeated invitations, but she was a no-show.

April 28 City Council D4 Forum

14 new photos · Album by Communications NAACP San Diego

2018 Primary Election Candidate Forums

Candidates for local Elections Speak to the NAACP

Looking forward to the elections in June 2018, the NAACPs Political Action Committee invited every candidate in three key local races to speak to the NAACP membership.

The candidates we have invited, and the dates on which they have spoken are listed below:

San Diego County District Attorney

  • Genevieve Jones-Wright: November 2, 2017
  • Summer Stephan: Unavailable to speak with us

San Diego County Board of Supervisors, District 4

  • Omar Passons: August 3, 2017
  • Nathan Fletcher: October 5, 2017
  • Ken Malbrough: December 7, 2017
  • Bonnie Dumanis: January 4, 2018
  • Lori Saldaña: March 1, 2018

San Diego City Council, District 4

  • Monica Montgomery: September 7, 2017
  • Neal Arthur: April 5, 2018
  • Anthony Villafranca: April 5, 2018
  • Myrtle Cole: Did not respond to our invitation

In addition to their individual presentations, the candidates were invited to these forums, all held at the Malcom X Library:

  • 6pm, April 17, 2018: San Diego County District Attorney
    • Jones-Wright attended
    • Summer Stephan declined
  • 6pm, April 24, 2018: San Diego County Board of Supervisors, District 4
    • Nathan Fletcher attended
    • Kenneth Malbrough attended
    • Omar Passons attended
    • Lori Saldaña attended
    • Bonnie Dumanis did not respond
  • 10:30am, April 28, 2018: San Diego City Council, District 4
    • Neal Arthur attended
    • Monica Montgomery attended
    • Tony Villafranca attended
    • Myrtle Cole did not respond

We are grateful to the vast majority of the candidates, who have shown their respect for the NAACP, its membership, and the over one hundred years of struggle for human rights it represents, by agreeing to visit us to present their candidacies and hear our views.

Video: County Board of Supervisors Candidates

Four of the five candidates for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors District 4 accepted our invitation to a candidate forum on April 24th, 2018.  Appearing were:

Bonnie Dumanis did not respond to our invitation.

Board of Supervisors District 4 Candidate Forum

The NAACP San Diego held a Candidate Forum for the candidates in the San Diego County Board of Supervisors primary election, scheduled to be held June 5th. Four of the five candidates (Nathan Fletcher, Kenneth Malbrough, Omar Passons and Lori Saldaña) were kind enough to participate.

SD Unified Should Elect Members by District

The San Diego Unified School District has been considering changes to its election process.  The NAACP San Diego Branch gave them some input at the April 23rd Town Hall meeting at Mission Bay High School.

Based upon the recommendations of the San Diego County Grand Jury Report, and our research, it is the position of the San Diego NAACP, that it is indeed time for a change with regards to San Diego Unified School District Board elections. We concur that the San Diego Unified School District should transition from the current at-large election system to a by-district or by-trustee election system. In addition, we concur that there should be an increase in the number of seats for the board.

We find several reasons that the district should make this transition which include, but are not limited to, compliance with the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, the recommendations of the Grand Jury Report, and the fact that several districts in San Diego County, and throughout the State of California, have already made this transition.

As pointed out by the San Diego County Office of Education, “Adopting a by-trustee-area election system ensures that a district is compliant with the California Voting Rights Act.” School Districts within San Diego County, such as the Carlsbad Unified School District, and the Poway Unified School District, have already adopted this system. In addition, according to the National Demographics Corporation, 131 school districts in the state of California are changing to by-district elections, as a result of the California Voting Rights Act.

As for the size of the school board, as previously mentioned, it is our position that there should be an increase in the number of board seats. According to our research, there are several school districts throughout the state of California, which have fewer students than the San Diego Unified School District does, but have more board seats. These districts include, but are not limited to the Fresno Unified School District, which according to the California Department of Education is the fourth largest district in the state, has an enrollment of 73,460 students, and seven board seats, according to Ballotpedia; the San Francisco Unified School District, which according to the California Department of Education, has an enrollment of 58,865, and seven board seats, according to Ballotpedia; and the Capistrano Unified School District, which according to the California Department of Education, is the eighth largest district in California, has an enrollment of 53,878, and seven board seats, according to Ballotpedia.

Lastly, we would like to conclude by strongly urging the board to adopt the recommendations of the Grand Jury report, to ensure compliance with the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 by transitioning to a by-district or by-trustee election system, to establish term-limits, and to increase the number of board seats. Changes are already underway with regards to school board elections, and attempts to maintain the status quo, or to resist such changes, is not only unacceptable and counterproductive, it simply will not stop a tide, which has already begun to turn.

Thank you.


Dr André Branch
President
NAACP San Diego Branch