Housing opportunities, concerns for 2014

It’s a new year, which means it’s a good time to look ahead at the opportunities and challenges awaiting us in the San Diego region when it comes to housing, regulations, development and growth.

In the multifamily housing industry, we have development potential as the city looks to maximize smart-growth opportunities. We are also facing proposals that could put a serious strain on the rights and finances of property owners.

San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf delivered an outlook for the San Diego County Apartment Association at a joint breakfast meeting Jan. 23 with the San Diego chapter of IREM, the Institute of Real Estate Management, at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla. A couple of significant local issues raised in her keynote address, “State of San Diego: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” could have great financial impacts on property owners.

But first, the good. Zapf emphasized the need for thriving small businesses. She was instrumental in the city’s hiring of a small-business liaison at City Hall and starting regulatory-relief days. Zapf, who chairs the City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee, touted her work with new city Planning Director Bill Fulton, including working on micro-community plan updates and smart growth efforts in older neighborhoods beyond the downtown core.

Smart growth often equates to higher density — multifamily housing — and Zapf’s vision is just that, including housing with more height and less parking, and development close to public transportation.

The city’s nearly billion-dollar infrastructure backlog clearly falls under the bad and the ugly, and Zapf urged us to keep on our radars a proposed “megabond" for 2016 to finance long-overdue repairs, such as hundred-year-old pipes. In theory, such a bond for capital projects is a substantial tax hike, and the concept needs close attention as it moves through the development stages toward a potential place on the ballot.

Another issue of concern is a proposal in the city’s Climate Action Plan to mandate the retrofitting of homes, condominiums and apartments for water- and energy-efficiency — installing new windows, new plumbing — with the possibility of liens on properties for not complying. Zapf supports energy efficiency, but not unnecessary burdens on property owners, and we agree.

SDCAA also welcomed Stacy Wells as new board president. As vice president of property management for Fairfield Residential, Wells oversees the California portfolio and has more than 19 years of experience in property management, including some in the affordable-housing arena.

As president, Wells leads the board of directors, and represents SDCAA at local, statewide and national meetings, including the National Apartment Association. She will help SDCAA carry out its strategic vision.

Wells’ credentials will prove invaluable in working with the SDCAA staff to keep our members up-to-date on the multifamily housing industry. She holds a California real estate license, and certifications in Front Line Leadership, Crime Free Multi-Housing, California Certified Residential Manager, and Professional Apartment Manager. She is pursuing her Certified Property Manager designation with IREM.

Pentico is executive director of the San Diego County Apartment Association.

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