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Colin Parent
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New Report Shows Strong Start for Innovative Affordable Homes Bonus Program

Circulate San Diego publishes a report detailing the success of a new mixed-income housing program from the City of San Diego.

October 18, 2017 – Circulate San Diego released today a report that shows the early success of a new program at the City of San Diego that encourages developers to set-aside affordable units in their buildings. The report is available at

In 2016, a unanimous City Council and Mayor Faulconer approved a new program which the Circulate San Diego Report calls the “Affordable Homes Bonus Program” (AHBP). The AHBP allows new buildings to have added development capacity, and other streamlining benefits, if they include a subset of their units as affordable to low or moderate income residents. San Diego’s program is an expansion of California Density Bonus Law, which requires that local governments provide similar but lesser benefits.

Circulate San Diego’s report is titled “Early Wins for Affordable Homes Bonus Program”, and it is based on housing construction and permit application data collected by the City of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC). The data shows a substantial uptick in the number of projects that have applied to use the new program, as compared with the prior program that only confirmed to the bare minimums of the California Density Bonus Law. The AHBP is set to produce:

  • A 900 percent increase per month for projects applying to use the program.
  • A 473 percent increase per month for deed-restricted affordable units.
  • A 453 percent increase per month for combined affordable and market-rate homes.

The AHBP was developed in collaboration with several knowledgeable stakeholders including SDHC, the San Diego Housing Federation, Circulate San Diego, Building Industry Association and the City of San Diego. “We were able to develop and pass one of the most aggressive density bonus programs in the state because of high impact collaboration which, as this report shows, is making a meaningful difference in addressing housing affordability in the City”, said Jeff Murphy, the City’s Planning Director. “It is because of this success that we are working with these stakeholders to further improve this valuable tool.”

Circulate San Diego Interim Executive Director and Policy Counsel Colin Parent is author of the report. “Our report today shows that San Diego’s innovative approach to encourage new affordable home production is creating results.”

AHBP also complements the recommendations in the recent SDHC report, “Addressing the Housing Affordability Crisis: San Diego Housing Production Objectives 2018-2028”.

“This density bonus program is working because it creates the additional affordable housing that the City of San Diego needs in a way that also makes sense for developers. Continuing to build on the initial success of this program is important to meeting the City’s housing needs over the next 10 years”, said SDHC Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer Deborah N. Ruane.

Circulate San Diego is a regional non-profit organization dedicated to advancing mobility and making the region a better place to move, work, learn, and play. Our work focuses on creating great mobility choices, more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and land uses that promote sustainable growth.