Two of the agenda items in front of the Culver City Council on Monday, April 12, 2021, garnered a great deal of public comment; hero pay and housing guidelines drew more than a hundred comments from the virtual pulpit, and residents, businesses and employees had much to say. The council voted to approve hero pay – a pandemic bonus to essential workers – by bifurcating the motion to create separate categories for grocery and retail workers and hospital staff. Another ten point ordinance updated the municipal housing code to bring it into agreement with the state laws.
The discussion of Hero Pay had taken months to arrive on the agenda, but several speakers emphasized that the effort and risk that essential workers had been through in the last year decreed it worthwhile. “Let’s think about how we can recognize the sacrifices they have made,” noted Maky Peters. “Many have thought about leaving their positions, or just leaving the profession.”
Creating a separate standard for health care workers was complicated by the fact that the main building of Southern California Hospital is in Culver City, but the two other buildings are in Los Angeles. The jurisdiction of the city would need to be clarified.
Both Council members Albert Vera and Goran Eriksson voted no, making for a 3-2 vote. Both ordinances will return to the agenda for a final reading next month.
The upgrade of housing guidelines was required by the new state standard, AB 725, which holds a deadline of October 2021 for cities to update their housing policies or have that mandate given over to the state. Without the update, the city would have to forfeit its eligibility for state bonds and grant money for the housing sector.
With Mayor Alex Fisch, the obligation to create more housing had a strong advocate at the center. While many who addressed the council were concerned over a change in single family residential zoning, (R-1) the upgrade to the housing guideline was not scheduled to take up that issue.
While delving into finely nuanced language, the ten new principles address the need for increased density, considering where and how that would be suitable in Culver City. The tenth point specifically sites the need for data on public opinion in the form of a survey.
The word “realistic” came up repeatedly in the legal language, as a kind of perspective adjustment on what can be developed, and what actually will be developed. With the General Plan Update also involved in the housing guidelines, the long term effect may combine more housing with other elements (walkability, green space) that the city is looking to encode into planning.
The Housing Element Guideline Principles for 2021-2029 passed on the same 3-2 vote, With Mayor Fisch, Vice Mayor Daniel Lee and Council member Yasmine-Imani McMorrin voting in favor of the regulations.