Opinion: The Mayor’s Housing Orders Could Be A Game Changer. Here’s Why.

Pfeiler is the president and CEO of the San Diego County Building Industry Association and lives in Escondido. Walsh is a junior project manager at Sudberry Properties and chair of the San Diego County Building Industry Association Young Generation of Leaders Council and lives in La Mesa.

When San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria delivered his State of the City address earlier this year, he made one thing loud and clear: “The only true solution to addressing both homelessness and housing affordability is to build more housing.” The Building Industry Association couldn’t agree more with the mayor.

Last year, Gloria signed an executive order directing the Development Services Department to review and approve all 100 percent affordable housing projects in under 30 days. Development Services Department turned the order into a new program, Affordable Housing Permit Now, and far exceeded expectations, reviewing projects in an average of nine days.


That’s tremendous progress that led to the speedy approval of 21 housing projects from San Ysidro to Rancho Bernardo totaling more than 2,300 new deed-restricted affordable homes. The directive worked. In 2023, the city permitted almost 9,700 homes — nearly doubling the number of permits issued the prior year. And Affordable Housing Permit Now projects comprised almost one in four of the homes permitted last year.

Gloria didn’t stop there. This year, he signed another executive order directing the Development Services Department to review and approve all by-right Complete Communities housing projects in the same 30-day time frame. This is a game-changer.

San Diego’s Complete Communities program is one of the most attractive housing incentives in the city. It promotes dense affordable and market-rate home construction near transit and provides neighborhood amenities such as parks, plazas and promenades. It is attracting attention from across the state for its effectiveness in building housing and community infrastructure. Since Complete Communities was adopted in December 2020, the city has issued 22 building permits to create 1,600 homes, including 280 affordable homes, under the program.

The mayor’s newest directive will ensure Complete Communities projects are reviewed and approved in just one month — something that used to take an entire year. When time is money — and it always is when you’re building new homes and apartments — quicker permitting means shovels in the ground sooner, lower rents and more affordable housing opportunities delivered to San Diego families faster. This is crucial to young San Diegans hoping to settle here and start a family. This new initiative helps us build homes for them.

The mayor’s executive orders are the epitome of smart government. They speed up the permitting process, create more jobs for those building housing and deliver affordable homes to families sooner. We can’t afford to wait. It’s a win-win-win.

The Building Industry Association represents dozens of different building trades, including plumbers, painters, low-voltage electrical technicians, cleaners, insurance brokers and more. It can take more than 100 different job categories to build one housing complex. Building more housing creates more of these good-paying jobs and boosts our economy.

The Young Generation of Leaders Council, a group of young professionals, advocates for the housing needs of San Diego’s youngest generation — those in college, embarking on their first job, trying to settle down or starting a family. Those who grew up here would undoubtedly like to stay close to extended family. They are among the San Diegans most adversely affected by the region’s housing crisis. We know the mayor’s heart and mind are with the region’s youngest generation. He wants them to stay in San Diego, find a job and start a family. It’s young people who help make our city great and so dynamic.

The mayor has helped us put shovels in the ground sooner, and that’s good news for all of us in San Diego. It is our hope other cities across our region follow his lead. It’s time to get building!

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