Solana Beach adopts housing element, focuses on incentivizing more ADUs

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SOLANA BEACH — The Solana Beach City Council adopted its final draft of the 6th cycle housing element this week and sent it to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for approval.

The housing element includes plans to fulfill the city’s requirement of 875 new housing units, including 316 extremely low/very low-income level units. The city has selected candidate sites for each level of housing required and says it has found surpluses of locations for the cycle that runs through April 2029.

Solana Beach, like many smaller towns in the state, has relied on new state laws regarding accessory dwelling units to help get to the numbers needed for its housing element. The new laws have expanded where these housing additions can be constructed and have resulted in a boom in their production.

Program 1-B of Solana Beach’s 6th cycle housing element is a commitment to continue incentivizing the construction of ADUs as well as the possibility of amending the city’s ADU ordinance to increase construction even more.

Speaking to city staff who have worked on getting the housing element completed prior to the HCD deadline, Mayor Lesa Heebner showed her gratitude.

“I’ll speak for the whole council, we really thank you for your hard work on this. It’s a difficult task and I appreciate everything that you’ve done on it,” Heebner said.

The housing element, if certified by HCD, would also include 159 low-income units, 160 moderate-income units and 240 above-moderate income units for a total of 875 new units as the city was allocated as part of its Regional Housing Needs Assessment.

The council voted unanimously to adopt the housing element and send it to HCD for certification. The department is currently receiving elements from cities across the county so the timeline for Solana Beach or any other city getting approval is not clear.

“They haven’t provided a timeline. I know they’re getting inundated with all the San Diego County jurisdictions’ housing elements. We would hope we would have a comment in the next 30 days from the time we submit,” said Joseph Lim, community development director for Solana Beach. “But I don’t know if that’s possible if they’ve got 14-plus jurisdictions submitting housing elements.”

State law specifies that Solana Beach, like other cities in the county, update its housing element every eight years. When cities are unable to adopt an element within 120 days of the statutory due date, then the jurisdiction is required by law to update its element every four years until it has successfully adopted two consecutive elements on time.

The element however does not have to be reviewed or found in compliance by that deadline so by adopting the resolution on time the Solana Beach City Council has avoided that potential outcome as it waits for final approval from the state.

“Once again, thanks to staff and our consultants for helping us through this process,” Councilmember David Zito said before the vote. “I’m going think positively in thinking we’re going to end up with an approved housing element and we’re going to be done and ready to roll for the next eight years.”

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