City of San Diego Planning Department
The City of San Diego enacted its Affordable Homes Bonus Program (AHBP) in 2016, which substantially increased the production of both market rate and deed-restricted affordable homes. The AHBP builds upon California Density Bonus Law, and allows developers to build more homes if they agree to set aside a subset of a new project as affordable. When the AHBP was created in 2016, California’s Density Bonus Law allowed developers to build 35 percent more homes than allowed by base zoning, if the developer agreed to set aside up to 11 percent of the base density units as affordable. The AHBP expanded on the existing California Density Bonus Law by allowing for a maximum of 50 percent more bonus units if a residential developer agreed to set aside up to 15 percent of the base density units as affordable.
In a forthcoming report later this year, Circulate San Diego will demonstrate the enormous impact of this program. By the numbers, this program gave a serious boost to the production of both market-rate and deed-restricted affordable homes. Almost half of homes entitled in 2020 were within projects that used the AHBP. Since the program was adopted, 6,481 homes have been entitled in projects using the AHBP. Of that total, 462 were subsidized affordable homes built in mixed-income projects financed with minimal public subsidy. Many more homes were also entitled in 100 percent affordable projects that also utilized the program.