A mixed-use project that was slated to include 47 market-rate, single-family, for-sale hoes; 113 affordable apartments for families who earn 50 percent to 60 percent of the area median income; 8,500 square feet of commercial space; and open space is facing possible significant delays due to a perceived conflict of interest.
According to a statement released by a representative of Affirmed Housing, the developer proposed the project at the corner of Hilltop and Euclid in the Encanto neighborhood of San Diego and, through a competitive request-for-proposals process, was selected to develop the site by the San Diego City Council at the recommendation of Civic San Diego. However, when voting on the Encanto project in June 2016, Civic San Diego board member Phil Rath, failed to recuse himself because Affirmed had contracted with Rath’s public relations agency for another project in 2013, the release says. According to the source, The San Diego Ethics Commission fined Rath for his failure to withdraw himself from voting on the project, and now, a group called San Diegans for Open Government has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the project’s approval from the City Council and Civic San Diego be rescinded.
The project has already undergone significant delays. After an investigation and delay, on June 12, the San Diego City Council voted on and unanimously approved the project, the statement says. San Diego City Council president, Myrtle Cole, is quoted in the release as saying, “I’ve been here since 1977… [The site has been] nothing but a blighted area of cement, dirt, grass, and an ugly fence. No longer… In a great district that deserves the very best, this will be the very best… I cannot wait until we break ground. I am so excited to see this happening.” Now, the groundbreaking date is indefinite, the statement says.
According to the release, “the existing Chollas Creek that bisects the site will be restored and become the focal point, uniting the east and west sides into a cohesive place via a pedestrian bridge.” Drought-tolerant landscaping and façades designed to blend with the surrounding community are also planned, along with a club house, garden, half-basketball court, tot lot, barbecue and picnic areas, electric-vehicle-charging stations, and wider sidewalks, the release says. Also, the project “will focus on revitalizing and driving new retail to the local area, and creating a sense of economic prosperity for the neighborhood,” the release says.
James Silverwood, president & CEO of Affirmed Housing, is quoted in the release as saying the project is “in alignment with the goals of the Encanto Neighborhood’s Community Plan.” He adds that it will create jobs and provide workforce housing along with revitalizing a blighted area and cautioned that further delays would damage community members.
Fortunately, affordable projects are being built in the San Diego market. As SoCal Real Estate recently reported, Chelsea Investment Corporation, the San Diego Housing Commission, and Casa Familiar Construction have broken ground on Paseo La Paz, a 137-unit affordable apartment complex for low-income families in San Diego County’s San Ysidro, a representative of Chelsea reports.