Old San Diego Family Court Torn Down

If you have driven down 6th Avenue in downtown San Diego in the last two weeks, you might have noticed something different – the old family courthouse in Cortez Hill that used to be located on 6th and Cedar Street is no longer there. The city began demolishing the building on September 25 to make room for what will be 120 units of affordable housing. Construction on the new building has been scheduled to start sometime in late 2021 and finish in 2024.

Land at 6th & Cedar to Be Redeveloped for Affordable Housing

The old family law courthouse, built in 1961, is one of 11 properties owned by the County that were identified in 2017 as possible sites for affordable housing. One report in 2020 by the California Housing Partnership found that San Diego County would need 136,631 more affordable units to meet demand. County supervisors have since been searching for ways to meet this demand. The old San Diego courthouse building, which has not been in use for family law for some time, is the latest setting identified for affordable housing.

Back in May 2018, supervisors voted to demolish the courthouse. The city then moved family law services to the new courthouse downtown, on Union Street. The old three-story building, located at 1501-1555 6th Ave, used to hear family law issues such as divorce cases, child custody cases and other domestic issues. In 2019, however, the city shut down the old courthouse and began to utilize the space instead as a shelter for families seeking asylum.

In July 2019, supervisors voted to approve a 99-year leasing agreement with Bridge Housing Corporation to turn the building into affordable housing. Holland Partner Group is the designer of the building, which will be a high-rise and will also have room for offices and commercial space. The new building project is estimated to cost around $64 million and will provide affordable housing for eligible tenants. Fifty-nine of the units will be for senior citizens, 59 will be for families and 2 will be for employees.

To qualify to live in the new units, a household must earn less than 60% of the area’s median income. As of 2020, this is $92,700 for the County of San Diego. A single occupant’s income must be below $48,540, while a family of four must make at or below $69,300. The director of the County Department of General Services, Marko Medved, says the affordable housing building will pay the county an additional $500,000 in rent upfront and $30,000 annually thereafter.

San Diego Courthouse Demolished for New Building

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is the main person responsible for using the old courthouse as a shelter. He is now the leader behind the affordable housing project that will replace the courthouse. He says that while a concern has been residents not wanting low-income families living close to them, “This is where housing needs to go; this location, in an urban setting, that’s walking distance to an array of services.”

Two residents who live near the building site have already told supervisors their concerns. One woman who lives directly behind the old courthouse space says a high-rise will block the sunlight from her unit and 18 others in the building. Another man – Evan Jones, board member of the Mills at Cortez Hill Homeowners Association, says the high rise will significantly impact the views and sunlight at his home as well, bringing down property values. He also requested more parking than the 64 spaces that have been planned, as well as a prohibition against dogs. The county responded by saying it would conduct studies on how the project will affect sun, shade and wind in the area. The county has christened the building, “Kindred.” It will be completed by late 2024.