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OTTA United & students play a major role in successful push for more housing in San Diego

OTTA United & students play a major role in successful push for more housing in San Diego

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Our Time to Act United

Yesterday, February 14th, 2023, Our Time to Act (OTTA) United and students successfully pushed San Diego City Council to adopt Sustainable Development Areas (SDAs). This new policy, replacing Transit Priority Areas, would open 5,224 acres of land to the potential for higher-density development programs.

This change is essential to ensuring the future of housing, affordability, and sustainability for youth and students in San Diego. OTTA United tabled on UC San Diego’s campus, speaking to nearly 100 students and having meaningful conversations about how the housing crisis has impacted students’ lives. From these valuable conversations, OTTA United collected over a dozen personal testimonials and comments which were submitted to the City. 

At noon on February 14th, 2023, students met together at the UC San Diego Central Campus Station and embarked on the 30-minute trip via the Blue Line Trolley to deliver their thoughts to our City Council in person.

In addition to written and in-person testimony, OTTA United was the only pro-housing group to deliver a planned presentation. Nicole Lillie, Housing Projects Director, and Aidan Lin, Executive Director, detailed specific student-related arguments in favor of SDAs and dismantled opposing arguments. The presentation concluded with slides highlighting some of the comments from students who could not share their concerns in person.

OTTA United – Sustainable Development Areas (final)
Download PDF • 17.16MB

Before voting on the motion, students received special recognition from Councilmember Kent Lee (District 6):

“I do want to take a moment to applaud the diverse young speakers for taking time out of their busy school and work schedules to help us understand why this might matter. These decisions will take many years to meaningfully change the city, and we need to plan and build for San Diego both for today, and for the generations of San Diegans to come. My fight has been and always will be to ensure that all San Diegans, now and into the future, have the opportunity to live, work, and play in San Diego.”

Students were also highlighted by Council President Sean Elo-Rivera,

“We are planning not for the city that we have today, or the city that we wish we had 20 years ago, but the city that we want—which is a city, as Councilmember Lee put it, where everyone has an opportunity to live here. Not just folks that live here today, but [also] the young people that are growing up here, the students who spoke so passionately today—we have to create housing opportunities for them. Those folks exist today, and they matter today, and we have to do something to ensure they will have an opportunity to live here and thrive here.”

For OTTA United’s efforts, students were featured in local news coverage of the adoption of this policy.

This case shows how students and youth have the power to make a difference on issues that matter. It is absolutely necessary for students to get involved with the issue of housing—because of the long-term nature of solutions—and OTTA United looks forward to continuing to engage students as decision-makers to forge a brighter future.

To take action or learn more, please contact Nicole Lillie, Housing Projects Director, at

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