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More than 200 communities in the United States have inclusionary zoning policies, which emerged to counteract the exclusionary zoning of many suburbs that was designed to keep poor families out.

In June 2003, at the urging of CPI and others, the City of San Diego adopted an Inclusionary Housing ordinance requiring that at least 10% of the units in every new housing development must be affordable to lower-income families. In some northern areas of the city, it’s 20%.

Households earning below the median income for the area are eligible to buy designated affordable housing, and those earning below 65% of the median are eligible for the rental housing. Roughly, that means a family must make below $39,000 a year to rent and below $60,000 to buy.

Developers can comply by building on-site or off-site units in the same community, or by paying an “in-lieu fee” instead of building the affordable housing. These fees go into an Affordable Housing Fund administered by the San Diego Housing Commission to finance affordable housing development.


July 2006: Affordable Housing Advocates Save Inclusionary Housing

The Building Industry Association sued to roll back the City’s inclusionary housing policy in 2006, but objections¬† from CPI and other housing advocates helped preserve the policy.