As a 14 year resident of Culver City it is encouraging to see current city staff and elected officials tackle difficult and sometimes thorny or loaded issues. This weekend’s community conversation around affordable housing is a prime example of matching forward thinking with substantive action. When I ran for city council last year I often spoke about affordability as a large concern not from a sense of self perseverance but because of the wide number of stories I’d heard from friends and neighbors who either had to move away or whose adult children had to either live at home or at a great distance from their families. I have high hopes for the outcome of the meeting on Saturday but it is just the start of a larger process. The planned rewrite of the city’s general plan and the eventual completion of a sustainability plan are part of this larger process I hope to see continue in Culver City.
Like many cities in across the US and in Southern California our building codes have not been modernized in many decades. An approach that embraces comprehensive change will allow the city to create affordable housing while modernizing other infrastructural elements. In the City of Los Angeles in November measure JJJ, an affordable housing measure, was voted in by Angelenos. The measure has various provisions but basically requires developers who apply for various waivers to build a percentage of affordable housing OR pay into an affordable housing fund. We will see how well the policy works in practice but Culver City should deeply study the elements of JJJ and other similar initiatives around the country that could provide the framework for an upgrade of our housing operating system.
Some potential elements to consider:
1. Allow for the building of smaller garden cottage homes on large lots.
2. Provide for increased density in various locations around the city (such as close to public transit corridors and freeways).
3. Requiring larger new residential developments to provide an increased percentage of affordable housing.
4. Study the feasibility the installation of solar panels and other renewable elements on city owned buildings. If the savings that accrued to Culver City School District in two short years are duplicable for the city the savings could be used to fund affordability initiatives.
5. Incentivize the Installation of Grey and Purple Water Systems in the building code.
6. Incentivize commercial and residential developments that incorporate or are built to facilitate the installation of solar and wind elements.
These are just a few of the plethora of potential options to consider. I sincerely hope to see many of the bright and professional Culver City community members who can share other ideas and expertise at the meeting this weekend.