Podcast: Why this Solana Beach project cost more than $1 million per apartment to build

A sign showing plans for The Pearl, an affordable housing complex in Solana Beach.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

California’s housing crisis is being driven by a shortage of affordable homes — a situation made all the more difficult to remedy because of the high cost of building low-income apartments here. It’s more expensive to build affordable housing in the state than anywhere else in the country.

The Times found one project — the Pearl in Solana Beach — where building costs topped $1 million per apartment. The developer still hasn’t broken ground, and the project has now been on the books for more than a decade. The saga serves as just one example of how political, economic and bureaucratic forces often converge to drive up the cost of building affordable housing at a time when a growing number of Californians need it.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we talk with Ginger Hitzke, the developer of the Pearl. We also talk about what protections against evictions renters do — and don’t — have as related to the coronavirus pandemic.


Gimme Shelter,” a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for CalMatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play and Overcast.