The Mason, a Fifth Avenue affordable housing project. Photo credit:
The Mason, a Fifth Avenue affordable housing project. Photo credit:

Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined a chorus of civic leaders Monday, saying he believed a compromise on raising development fees to pay for affordable housing was within reach.

In an interview on KPBS radio, Faulconer said a resolution could be reached in the next few weeks.

“I think we have a real opportunity to get a plan that will work and achieves the right balance,” he said.

The City Council last year doubled the fee, essentially restoring it to its intended level after nearly two decades.

The “linkage fee,” which goes into a fund for affordable housing projects, had been halved in 1996 as an economic stimulus and was supposed to be reviewed annually.

However, opponents of the move said the fee hike on some types of development would have jumped more than 700 percent, and they collected enough signatures to force the council to repeal the ordinance.

Faulconer, speaking in his regular radio spot, said city officials have to be careful when raising fees to avoid unintended consequences.

“We want good, quality, affordable housing,” Faulconer said. “We need to make sure we’re providing all the right tools that get us there. I’m actually pretty optimistic that we will have a compromise that I think makes the most sense, not only for the affordable housing we want to continue to create, but also for our economy.”

Rick Gentry, the president and CEO of the housing commission, said the talks were going well.

City Council President Todd Gloria said last week that a compromise measure could be placed on a council agenda  before council members recess at the end of July.

Since rescinding the increase, the City Council has been urging business groups to work with the San Diego Housing Commission to come up with a compromise.

Craig Benedetto, the head of a group that sponsored the signature-gathering drive that forced the City Council to reverse course, said talks with the housing commission, which handles affordable housing programs for the city, “have been positive and productive.”

He said the two sides had come up with a basic agreement for an increase in the linkage fee, combined with regulatory reform and a commitment by the commission to seek alternative funding sources.

– City News Service