City to Explore Housing Proposal with '100% Affordable Overlay'

The Culver City Council last week continued its lively and contentious discussion on land use options and 2045 growth projections, including the controversial topic of "exclusionary zoning practices" in the residential areas.

During its Monday meeting, the Council decided by 3-2 vote to direct staff to study one land use plan that "explores 100% affordable housing overlay" in single-family (R1) neighborhoods, drawing the ire of hundreds of local homeowners. The dissenting votes were cast by Councilmembers Albert Vera and Goran Eriksson.

The proposed "up-zoning" housing plan includes no changes to lots in low density single family areas with less than 4,950 square feet. In addition, staff will investigate design options for multiplexes (three or four units) on larger lots. 

The majority of the speakers at the marathon meeting expressed their strong opposition to the elimination of single-family zoning or dramatic changes in residential zoning and vented their frustrations at "tone-deaf councilmembers with a political agenda."

"Representative democracy crashed against the rocks of political ideology" on Monday night, commented a frustrated homeowner after the Council vote.

The joint meeting between the Planning Commission and the Council was a continuation of last Wednesday's session which drew more than 150 speakers and some 500 pages of correspondence from homeowners who strongly oppose the elimination of single-family zoning and others who decried the lack of affordable housing in Culver City.

At that meeting, Culver City Mayor Alex Fisch stated, "the question this evening is whether we will embark on a year-long path of outreach and study to determine how to create missing middle housing throughout our city in a way that preserves what we love about our neighborhoods, or whether we will kill the very idea of change right now for one specific type of neighborhood."

"Fundamentally," he added, "we will decide whether we are going to use the General Plan to reinforce once again that the wall that was built around Culver City neighborhoods by segregationists many decades ago."

But members of the coalition "Culver City Neighbors United," told the panelists the "up-zoning scheme will not create affordable housing nor alleviate racial inequity in Culver City." They maintained their neighborhoods are diverse and the Fair Housing laws protect people from discrimination.

They also stressed that there are effective and creative solutions to the affordable housing crisis. On its website, the neighbors' group suggests multi-housing/retail/office/restaurant space along commercial corridors, developing commercial/industrial and underutilized spaces, and focusing on under-served areas in the city.

City officials said the land use options being considered "will not come to a decision point until late next summer of early fall." 


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