New housing construction
New housing construction is seen from an alley in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, Nov. 29, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

San Diego’s building department is overwhelmed by permit applications and grossly understaffed to meet demand, using antiquated technology and redundant processes to authorize new housing.

Those are among the findings of a 22-page report that attempts to answer why the city is so “woefully off pace” from meeting housing production goals. 

inewsource ad

A regional housing study projected San Diego will need more than 13,500 housing units every year to meet the demand of all income levels by the end of the decade. This year, the city only authorized construction on a third of that.

Three industry experts told inewsource it can take San Diego’s Development Services Department anywhere from five months to a year to issue relatively straightforward housing permits — delays that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. By the time the city gives the green light to build, inflation has driven up the price of labor and supplies. 

“With interest rates the way they are, it could make a project completely out of the realm of possibilities,” said Jared Basler, a San Diego native who has been designing and permitting small housing throughout California for the last 10 years. 

“It can be the difference between a housing unit getting built or not.”

Released last month, the report details a number of barriers to home construction in San Diego and includes policy recommendations to remove them. Among the recommendations are:

  • Stop duplicating efforts to finance affordable housing
  • Make it easier to build prefabricated housing
  • Find ways around height limits to allow for more development

Read the full article on

Get investigative reporting in your inbox. Sign up for inewsource’s newsletters.