Affordable Housing Disappearing in San Diego

Less than one third of your take-home pay is the national standard for affordable housing costs. If you pay more than that - the Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego County, needs you to attend a public hearing called by City Attorney Michael Aguirre.

Aguirre will take testimony on the tremendous impact that condo conversions have on escalating rent costs that are displacing vast amounts of San Diegans, robbing our neighborhoods of diversity and vitality, forcing our children to move away.

The Thursday, December 1st, 6 p.m., hearing at the City Council chambers (12 floor), will focus on the massive invasion of speculators and developers that have given our community the dubious distinction of the conversion capital of the state with more units converted than the entire counties of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda and Orange combined (4,000 units completed and another 11,000 proposed).

As background, here is my response to a Union-Tribune editorial critical of Aguirre's call for a study of conversion impacts on our community.

Dear Editor:
Your recent editorial criticizing the City Attorney
for requiring environmental impact reports on condo
conversions is misleading and unfair. Now, while
renters don't buy ad space like condo sellers, they do
constitute over 50 percent of the population in the
city of San Diego and, as such, their plight needs to
be mitigated by government in a market economy that
favors developers and speculators (who are doing most
of the conversions).

Of renters, you say "a substantial share manage to
purchase the units they had been renting." In my three
years as Director of the Renters Union, I have never
met a low-income family that was able to buy a
converted apartment. Why, with the U-T's million
dollar staff, was your editorial office not able to
come up with a percentage of renters who bought their
units? Because your "substantial share" is pure

During my two years on the City Heights
Area Planning Committee, as hundreds of condo
conversions were brought before us, I tried repeatedly
without success to get the Planning Department's
representatives to do a study of just how many renters
actually bought. I made two motions to ask the City
Council for a complete moratorium on conversions until
the sheer volume's impact on the City Heights
community could be studied. The second time it was
narrowly defeated.

I would suggest the U-T put it's money; err, ink,
where its mouth is and send its staff writers out and
get the statistics and stories of these alleged
low-income renters that have bought these new condos.

There are 2,000 evictions a month in the city. Many
of those are people who have lived for generations in
a neighborhood, share their lives with fellow tenants,
watch one another's kids, help in emergencies and
along comes a corporation or wealthy speculator and
buys the apartment building; destroying community and
diversity for profit.

Yes, Mr. Aguirre is right. Not only does city
government have a responsibility to see these social
disruptions mitigated, they need to protect the
quality of life in our neighborhoods which includes
the environmental aspects.

Rocky Neptun
City Heights


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