Culver City Council Approves Guiding Principles for Housing Element Update
April 15, 2021
Council met this week to discuss guiding principles for its "Housing Element" update that, among other stipulations, call for the city to identify "sites zoned to accommodate at least four on-site multi-family housing units," and establish "zoned capacity for lower-income housing should be equitably distributed throughout the city."
This latter zoning principle drew four dozen speakers at Monday's night meeting who expressed strong concerns that the city would eliminate the R-1 (single-family) areas to permit massive, affordable housing developments -- in essence greenlighting an up-zone policy for the whole city.
Members of Protect Culver City, a political action committee, told the Council that the proposed housing policy "creates a number of mandates and loopholes, like 'equitable' distribution of new housing...It allows developers to build whatever they want, wherever they want."
But Mayor Alex Fisch replied that there is a lot misinformation being spread in the city caused by "fear mongering." He stated that "there is a lot of heavy status quo bias here...and we must get rid of it to fully comply with state laws."
He maintained the guiding principles are the first steps to the housing element update. He said the Planning Commission and General Plan Updates team will have a greater role in this process.
After a spirited debate, the Council voted 3-2 to approved the resolution establishing the housing principles. Voting against it were Councilmember Albert Vera and Councilmember Goran Eriksson, who called it "too convoluted."
Every eight years, Culver City is required by law to analyze its housing needs and compile data on housing stock for its Housing Element and also list sites that "realistic potential for housing development based on a jurisdiction's Regional Housing Needs Allocation number."
For the 2021-2029 planning period, Culver City has been mandated to build 3400 affordable housing units, city officials said in a report.
As approved past midnight, the principles also include: realistic development capacity (likelihood of development); sites which are designated as suitable for accommodating lower- income housing shall be zoned to allow at least 30 dwelling units per acre; and the Housing Element should assume a buffer of at least 30% for the lower-income and moderate- income RHNA allocations, among other provisions.
Once adopted by the City Council in October, the Housing Element will guide housing production and preservation in Culver City for the next eight years.
This update comes as state law has significantly changed over the last three years, limiting local control and strengthening enforcement mechanisms such as withholding state funding from communities who do not meet RHNA requirements, city officials said.