Personal Experience Guides Home Building Advocate

New BIA Chair Aims to Ease PermittingRita Mahoney, Chair Building Industry Association of San Diego County


SAN DIEGO COUNTY – As the new chair of the Building Industry Association of San Diego County, Rita Mahoney’s commitment to creating more housing is deeply ingrained as a result of her own history.


Mahoney, the director of planning and land development for ColRich for the past 11 years, vividly recalled being evicted from her home as a child.


“It definitely was a formative moment for me in my life,” Mahoney said. “My parents had some struggles. They struggled with addiction and mental health issues.”


After losing their home when she was 11, Mahoney said her family lived in substandard housing that was infested with mold.


“I still, to this day, struggle with lung challenges and asthma as a result of living there,” Mahoney said.


Her appointment as BIA chair “means a great deal to me personally, given my history with housing,” Mahoney said.


“In practical terms, it gives me a platform to continue to push for change, for more homes and apartments San Diegans can afford. All of us, every one of us, deserves a home. Nothing is easy without a home. Everything is harder,” she said.


“Everybody needs a home. You can’t have a good quality of life if you don’t live in a house that’s safe and clean that’s reasonably affordable.”



Easier Permitting

A graduate of the University of California San Diego, Mahoney earned a degree in urban planning.


“Ever since that time, I have been building communities and entitling land,” Mahoney said. “I was always drawn to housing, I always loved model homes.”


Her focus at ColRich has been environmental planning and “managing the entitlement process through final permitting. One of her big gripes is the amount of time it takes to get projects through permitting, adding that 40% of the cost of a new home is due to permitting expenses.


“I was technically a young woman when I started working on our Otay Mesa project and I certainly am not young,” Mahoney said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a project in my 35-year career that sailed through.”



One of her key goals as BIA chair is to persuade the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to change county permitting procedures similar to those that the City of San Diego has adopted to make it easier to build new housing.



“The City of San Diego has really been the workhorse,” Mahoney said.



With the median price of a single-family home reaching $980,000 in February, according to the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, “I don’t think we’ll see housing prices come down significantly unless we really increase the supply,” Mahoney said.



“Housing is out of reach for so much of the population,” Mahoney said. “It’s going to affect our ability to retain and attract talent for high level jobs.”


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