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San Diego Unified OKs its first affordable housing development on school property

David Garrick, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Unified School District officials took a key step forward this week with their plan to help ease the local housing crisis by letting developers build large rent-restricted apartment complexes on excess school property.

District trustees selected a developer to transform the former campus of Central Elementary in City Heights into 327 rent-restricted units — 57 for seniors and 270 for families and individuals.

This is the second time the district has allowed a developer to build housing on surplus land no longer needed for school facilities. But it's the first where all the units will be rent-restricted.

It's part of a nearly decade-old but accelerating real-estate strategy that aims both to generate much-needed revenue and to help keep students' and school employees' families alike from being priced out of the district.

And the project, which will include space for a farmer's market and the Fern Street Circus performing arts group, could serve as a model for three additional housing projects the district is planning on surplus land in Linda Vista, Old Town and University Heights.

District officials say they want the housing projects built on their land to become community focal points where a variety of neighborhood services are offered.


"It's really exciting we're moving in this direction," said trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne. "Hopefully we can help the city with more housing."

While the primary goal is helping ease the local housing shortage while generating revenue for the district, officials said another motive is creating more housing that's affordable for teachers and other school workers.

To make sure those workers don't earn too much to qualify for the new complex, the developer has reserved 55 units for renters making up to 80 percent of the area's median income and 20 units for renters making up to 100%.

The rest of the units will be for renters making between 30% and 60% of the area's median income, which is $119,500 for a two-person household in 2024.


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