Monday, February 16, 2015

Building Apartments and Condos to Alleviate San Diego's Housing Problems

The affordability of housing is a difficult issue for San Diego as the costs of housing and rent are reaching beyond what the average person can afford. The problem has become so exacerbated that one has to wonder if it will someday, if not already, have an impact on recruitment and retention by employers that limits future economic growth. The problem of San Diego's housing move beyond surface solutions and more into the fundamental design of the city. Rethinking that design may be helpful in creating a more sustainable future.

San Diego is designed like a suburb but has limited coastal space. Encouraging the development of apartment housing can be beneficial for building up and consolidating people into better managed areas. Instead of wasted space well designed housing can put people in smaller areas without jeopardizing their comfort.

Condos work the same way as apartments. Well designed facilities can not only save space for more housing but also offer opportunities to include fitness, pools, and aesthetically more pleasing grounds. Condos help support property ownership in the city turning renters into buyers who are likely to stay in the city longer

When designed properly apartments can easily convert into condos when neighborhood demographics change. Offering opportunities to switch housing from renter to owner when the market demands it provides the right kind of flexibility in neighborhood management. Having a mix helps create a sense of community where people can stay many years through the different stages of their life.

Empty commercial buildings offer opportunities to develop mini offices for a trendy new crowd of entrepreneurs. Sometimes old commercial buildings can be transformed into housing for urban hipsters. You can find examples of where this worked well in places like Milwaukee and Chicago. Instead of letting buildings run down find new uses for offices, recreation, and housing.

Creating better people management also helps save on San Diego's expensive infrastructure bill. More people in smaller areas means that transportation, roads, water, sewer, electricity, Internet and other infrastructure changes can apply economies of scale allowing for effective use of tax dollars. Getting more bang for government buck is half the battle.

San Diego has suffered its share of droughts, scorching weather, and water shortages. Properly designed apartments and condos can offer green solutions to electricity, water, and land management. Instead of spreading large amounts of concrete  across massive ground space solutions such as natural rooftops, solar panels, water catches, and recycling provides new opportunities saving long-term problems.

Most people love to live in aesthetically beautiful places that offer park like atmospheres, fountains, green space, and social areas. Apartments and condos can offer something previous single-family housing could not. Within arms reach people can have all of the aesthetically pleasing amenities and daily services they need making complexes more appealing.

Cost is based on demand and supply. There is a shortage of housing that is jacking up the cost of living for people and this is limiting the opportunities of businesses to recruit and retain qualified candidates. Offering more housing at different price points helps to alleviate that problem for different demographics. Without new spaces the price will continue to limit San Diego's opportunities.

In city management there are no easy solutions and most will take years if not decades to effectively convert. However, by having a general plan of action helps to start making the right zoning, permit, infrastructure decisions that develop a more sustainable tomorrow. The trends in urbanization and its appeal among a new generation isn't likely to change soon and making better use of time and resources helps in alleviating the cost of housing and city management in the future.

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