Creating a Shortage of Affordable Housing

Within the City of Encinitas, a small Southern California coastal town, the population continues to grow but availabilty of housing is lacking, creating a shortage of affordable housing. Nearly 50% of those working in Encinitas and 30% of the residents are eligible for affordable housing, yet only 145 affordable homes have been built in the past 7 years (Affordable Housing). There is a clear need for increased affordable housing to ensure equality between low income earners and those earning professional wages. As a result of community task forces and education, the people of Encinitas share similar views regarding the housing shortage, which have contributed to the development of social capital. Forms of social capital that are already in place include community resource centers and the downtown shops and restaurants along the 101, which is the main hangout for both tourists and locals. Even with a common goal of collective change, there is still much work to be done. Unfortunately, both local and state governments are not using their power to their fullest potential, allowing locals to gain control over resources and decisions regarding a housing plan for more affordable housing.

The nature of this housing conflict is caused by a majority of community members opposing the the city’s housing plan, not because they oppose the intent but due to issues such as increased traffic and costs associated with building the units. California requires all cities to provide fair and equitable housing accommodations for all income levels. Unfortunately, Encinitas has not had an agreed upon housing plan since 1992 and has a shortage in excess of 1,000 affordable housing units. Currently, all land-use changes require a majority vote by residents who are able to reject ballot items such as Measure U (Marx). Proposed housing plans have been rejected in both 2016 and 2018 elections, due to the city’s inability to move forward with a housing plan a San Diego County Superior judge is now involved and is likely to make a final ruling on the most recent plan. The need for the court has to step in, and possibly supercede the Encinitas law has become an oppressive key issue in the housing system. Thoses who are in opposition are concerned about increasing the city’s, traffic congestion, and obstruction of ocean views by new construction (Marx). The controversy between the the local council and residents will resume on November 28, 2018 to discuss consequences of Encinitas not being in compliance with state laws and not having an agreed upon housing plan. The longer the decision is prolonged, the community will continue to be negatively affected.

Similar to the ways Encinitas is experiencing an affordable housing shortage, so are about 97.6% of other counties and cities in California (Murphy). This issue does not only affect one community, but ones all over the state. The amount of time wasted between locals and the government disagreeing on a solution has resulted in the inability to provide sufficient amount of affordable housing for the growing population. Murphy emphasizes the need to change how a housing plan is approached in order to adequately accommodate those in need of housing. In fact, she states that “jurisdictions will now lose the ability to reject certain types of development projects under legislation that was signed into law last fall”. These cities include but are not limited to Capitola, Carmel, Concord, East Palo Alto, Monterey Santa Cruz County, and Sausalito (Murphy). Overall, the state lacks the power to enforce necessary laws, permitting communities to continue to take advantage of reworking the law in ways that work to their liking: opposing affordable housing.

Transformative Change

As a community organizer I would actively work with locals to organize a plan to accomplish a goal of increasing affordable housing in Encinitas. My proposed solution would be to support the ongoing effort Encinitas is currently making to rent out accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as granny flats, with proper permits and living conditions that are already owned by homeowners (Bates and Blakespear). To do so, I would use and partake in current programs within the city, as well as follow the structure of the three goals from Jobin-Leeds “Intro”: go to the root cause of the problem, create transformative visions, and build solidarity and stand together. These specific goals aid in achieving a common desire for social justice by naturally uniting community members over shared connections, helping one another to better understand the nature of the conflict and its most beneficial resolution. Both parties need to realize housing is a collective goal, frame the housing plan needs to be framed in such a way that those who oppose the need for affordable housing to be educated on the benefits provided to the community as a whole. Given that granny flats currently exist within the community, having homeowners register them would provide affordable housing for those in need, put Encinitas in compliance with state laws, provide additional income to the homeowner and reduce the need for new construction. As more locals comprehend the requirement and benefits of affordable housing, many will build solidarity and stand together leading to forms of bonding and bridging, eventually constituting social capital.

Furthermore, another technique I would include as a community organizer would be to focus on the spatial strategies Routledge mentioned in his “Radical Geographies”: knowing your place and the wage war of words. These two strategies work together simultaneously to construct power with attempts to resolve the ongoing issue of compromising on an affordable housing plan. The spatial strategy of knowing one’s place aids in the advantage activists have of using their hometown to shape and organize protests. Activists are well aware of how the community functions, the general opinion of locals, and ways in which change is able to be made effectively. Given this, their everyday routines enable them to displace the current power set in place and create social capital through transformative organizing. This strategy makes sense to use in a community such as Encinitas due to the fact that the culture within this town is very nonchalant. By disrupting the everyday “normal” locals experience, through protests, meetings, or newsletters the need for affordable housing would be communicated to the majority of community members one way or the other.

Works Cited

  1. Affordable Housing. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.keys4homes.org/about/
  2. Blakespear, C. (2018, June 07). From the Encinitas Mayor: Housing plan in the final stretch. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from http://www.delmartimes.net/encinitas-advocate/news/opinion/sd-cm-nc-encinitas-mayor- 20180607-htmlstory.html
  3. Bates, P., & BLAKESPEAR, C. S. (2018, July 06). How granny flats help with California’s housing shortage. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/sd-utbg-housing-cali fornia-granny-flats-20180705-story.html