Affordable Housing in Chula Vista

By Theresa Acerro, president SWCVCA


          Eligibility for affordable housing and many other services is determined by this chart based upon the median income before taxes and other deductions in San Diego County. Affordability depends upon the number of people in a family. 50% of the median income is considered very low income. 80% is considered low income. 120% is considered moderate income. To read the chart a person needs to determine his or her family’s total income before taxes & deductions and find the closest number next to the number of people in his/her family.

The city of Chula Vista has an inclusionary policy that requires anyone building 50 homes or more to make 10% of the homes affordable to low and/or moderate income people or pay an in lieu fee. The city almost always requires the housing. (Many in-fill developments in the western part of the city are deliberately 49 or less.) The huge sprawling developments in the east have resulted in for sale homes for moderate-income people and a few for rent complexes for low-income people in the east. This is a list of these homes. In 2008 the city had a number of meetings to discuss such issues as increasing the amount of set aside and increasing the percentage of affordable homes a developer must build. Another issue was lowering the number of homes built requiring affordable housing. Nothing has been done with the comments collected at this meeting. (I guess it just all went in the file “look how much community involvement we get” and was filed away to make the city look good without actually doing anything to make situations better.)

City 2008 fact sheet on Affordable Rents.                 City 2008 fact sheet on Affordable Sales Pricing.

          This table is a summary of Housing Element Objectives for 2005-2010:





Total by Activity

            Local Rental Assistance





          Education, Referrals, Fair Housing





Homeless Services






























             Condominium Conversion





       Farm worker Housing










              Multi-family Mobilehome                    Ins                     Inspection





            Code Enforcement (Owner)





             Code Enforcement (Renter)






There are also extremely low-income people, who are difficult to serve and often are or become homeless. The largest amount of truly affordable housing in the city is in Mobile Home Parks. This is due to the Mobile Home Rent Control Ordinance. This is a precarious situation for all involved because there are constant assaults upon this ordinance from the state level and many park owners do their best to avoid compliance.

Redevelopment law requires 15% of new homes within redevelopment areas be affordable for low-income residents. It also requires that at least 20% of all “tax increment” money collected go into a fund for affordable housing (San Francisco sets aside 60%.). The city has a Housing Department, which has been combined with the Redevelopment Department. This is a very suspect arrangement, since these funds are supposed to be kept separate and used for different purposes.

In 2007 I became suspicious of the city’s practices. This is a summary of my concerns at that time: This is a quote from a city website about a project on the corner of Broadway and Main . It is supposed to be 104 affordable rental units. RDA got the land from previous woners -a low rent apartment building and some mobile homes. I don't know how or to where those people were relocated.  RDA only contributed $1.5 million to the project according to them. "Funding for the project comes from the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Chula Vista , Sun America Affordable Housing Partners, Inc. and the State of California Joe Serna Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program .

The project, which should open in the summer of 2004, will offer safe, secure affordable living to families who earn $25,500 to $44,400 per year.

The new development is described as a garden city, complete with landscaped pedestrian boulevards. At the center of the community is a town hall, or community building. Brisa Del Mar will offer two-bedroom units (819 sq. ft.), three-bedroom units (1,030 sq. ft.) and four- bedroom units (1,186 sq. ft)."

I called the manager (619 529-9612) and she told me the low income people living there are on Section 8. She said no agricultural workers applied. The new CV Housing Element says there are 32 apartments in this complex for agricultural workers as grant requires. When I inquired as a prospective tenant I was told the rents are:  2bd. $901, 3bd. $1,037; 4bd. $1,148.

These are the requirements of the grant that was used to build the homes:

the State of California Joe Serna Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program:

(b) Housing Development. The grant may only be expended for housing developments that meet the following criteria:

(1) The housing development must contain assisted units to be occupied by agricultural households.

(2) To the greatest extent possible, assisted units are to be occupied by lower-income agricultural households.

(3) To the greatest extent possible, any non-assisted units are to be occupied by agricultural households.

(4) To the extent consistent with the maintenance of the financial integrity of the housing development, assisted units are to be made available to lower-income households at affordable rents as defined in Section 6692 of Title 25, California Administrative Code; and for lower-income occupants of cooperative housing, at a total monthly housing cost, including utilities, not to exceed 25% of monthly net income.


Brisa does not meet any of these criteria. The city is using 80% of county median gross income as qualified. This is not low income but moderate. Indeed there is a need for moderate income housing, BUT that is not what they are taking credit for and our housing element requires an emphasis on low and very low income housing. The RDA is way behind meeting legal requirement that 15% affordable low- income housing must be built for all housing built in redevelopment area. These units clearly should not count at all, but even if they did they would be way behind.

This is requirement of Title 25:

Section 215 Qualification as Affordable Housing






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From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access
[Laws in effect as of January 6, 1999]
[Document not affected by Public Laws enacted between
January 6, 1999 and October 26, 2000]
[CITE: 42USC12745]




Part A--HOME Investment Partnerships

Sec. 215. Qualification as affordable housing

  1. Rental housing
    1. Qualification
      Housing that is for rental shall qualify as affordable housing
      under this subchapter only if the housing--
      1. bears rents not greater than the lesser of
        1. the existing fair market rent for comparable units in the area as established by the Secretary under section 1437f of this title, or
        2. a rent that does not exceed 30 percent of the adjusted income of a family whose income equals 65 percent of the median income for the area, as determined by the Secretary, with adjustment for number of bedrooms in the unit, except that the Secretary may establish income ceilings higher or lower than 65 percent of the median for the area on the basis of the Secretary's findings that such variations are necessary because of prevailing levels of construction costs or fair market rents, or unusually high or low family incomes;


      1. has not less than 20 percent of the units
        1. occupied by very low-income families who pay as a contribution toward rent (excluding any Federal or State rental subsidy provided on behalf of the family) not more than 30 percent of the family's monthly adjusted income as determined by the Secretary, or
        2. occupied by very low-income families and bearing rents not greater than the gross rent for rent-restricted residential units as determined under section 42(g)(2) of title 26;


      1. is occupied only by households that qualify as low-income families;
      2. is not refused for leasing to a holder of a voucher or certificate of eligibility under section 1437f of this title because of the status of the prospective tenant as a holder of such voucher or certificate of eligibility;
      3. will remain affordable, according to binding commitments satisfactory to the Secretary, for the remaining useful life of the property, as determined by the Secretary, without regard to the term of the mortgage or to transfer of ownership, or for such other period that the Secretary determines is the longest feasible period of time consistent with sound economics and the purposes of this Act, except upon a foreclosure by a lender (or upon other transfer in lieu of foreclosure) if such action
        1. recognizes any contractual or legal rights of public agencies, nonprofit sponsors, or others to take actions that would avoid termination of low-income affordability in the case of foreclosure or transfer in lieu of foreclosure, and
        2. is not for the purpose of avoiding low income affordability restrictions, as determined by the Secretary; and
      4. if newly constructed, meets the energy efficiency
        promulgated by the Secretary in accordance with
        section 12709 of this title.


    1. Adjustment of qualifying rent
      The Secretary may adjust the qualifying rent established for a project under subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1), only if the Secretary finds that such adjustment is necessary to support the continued financial viability of the project and only by such amount as the Secretary determines is necessary to maintain continued financial viability of the project.
    2. Increases in tenant income
      Housing shall qualify as affordable housing despite a temporary noncompliance with subparagraph (B) or (C) of paragraph (1) if such noncompliance is caused by increases in the incomes of existing tenants and if actions satisfactory to the Secretary are being taken to ensure that all vacancies are filled in accordance with paragraph (1) until such noncompliance is corrected. Tenants who no longer qualify as low-income families shall pay as rent the lesser of the amount payable by the tenant under State or local law or 30 percent of the family's adjusted monthly income, as recertified annually. The preceding sentence shall not apply with respect to funds made available under this Act for units that have been allocated a low-income housing tax credit by a housing credit agency pursuant to section 42 of title 26.
    3. Mixed-income project
      Housing that accounts for less than 100 percent of the dwelling units in a project shall qualify as affordable housing if such housing meets the criteria of this section.
    4. Mixed-use project
      Housing in a project that is designed in part for uses other than residential use shall qualify as affordable housing if such housing meets the criteria of this section.

I am attaching a slide from the presentation the redevelopment director gave at our community group meeting, as you can see they admit 48% of set aside for low income housing is being spent on administration. The other slide shows they are using HOME and CDBG money for salaries, which is specifically against rules for HOME funds. I have a feeling there are a lot of irregularities in the affordable housing program in Chula Vista and likely to be more since Redevelopment and housing have been combined. I suspect so the housing money can help finance the administrative expenses of redevelopment.

I am also concerned that Mandy Mills the Housing Director said at a public meeting that she was getting many requests for money to help rehabilitate housing and having to say no because they were not in redevelopment areas. HOME funds are not required to be spent in redevelopment areas. The Manager of RDA won't let them be spent out of area because it only counts as 1/2 a unit toward their required number of affordable units. This is ridiculous. The goal should be building and/or rehabilitating as many affordable homes as possible.


On top of all of this there are almost 1175 mobile home/trailer spaces in the city being threatened by the city's Urban Core specific Plan's rezoning. Plus another 200 in the southwestern part of the city with the wrong zoning that may be targeted by the specific plan they want to start for that part of the city.

Chula Vista has mobile home park rent control. This is the majority of all the affordable housing in the city. Many of these people are living on less tha $11,000 per year. Many are seniors and some are disabled. There simply are not any options for these people and the city is not doing anything to help rectify the situation.

Earl Jentz and I met with Housing staff a number of times to go over these issues. It was rather frustrating since they did not want to turn over information, what they presented was very confusing and there were a lot of other issues we were interested in so we kind of gave up.

Catherine Rodman from Affordable Housing Advocates (Affordable Housing Advocates, 303 A Street, Suite 300, San Diego, CA  92101
(619) 233-8474/8441, ext. 2, Fax: (619) 233-4828, began an investigation into the city’s practices over a year ago. She has tried to get information from the city, and they have been uncooperative. The information she has been able to get has shown that in a ten year period between 25% and 85% of all housing set aside money has gone to staff. This is third highest in the county. (The other two cities with questionable practices are Poway and San Diego.) She is in the process of recruiting low- income residents of these cities to be clients so she can force these three cities to change their practices and spend more on affordable housing.

On July 27 she spoke at the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association meeting. She felt somewhat uncomfortable because another speaker was a city employee and a council member attended, but this is what she had to say:

Catherine part 1

Catherine part 2

Catherine part 3