Dear Editor – Respectful Dialogue Needed as Much as Housing

Dear Editor,
The division and hatred in our country, and the growing divisiveness I perceive in our beloved Culver City saddens me. This led to research to offer some background and make a proposal for your consideration. May the following information and Proposal lead to robust & respectful dialogue that will help determine Culver City’s footprint for the coming 25 years.

To better address our homelessness & affordable housing crisis let’s look at the following:
1. State Law – Current needs re RHNA
◦ On 1/1/2020, California allowed homeowners’ to add 2 rental units. Has Culver City incentivized this option?
◦ As of 3/4/2021, the State’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is demanding more housing.
◦ Per the RHNA, Culver City’s affordable housing requirements are as follows:
1108 more housing units are needed for very-low income, 604 low-income, 560 moderate income, and 1069 for above-moderate income. Total: 3341
1. The State’s demands and Culver City’s Ideal Values
◦ Per the Culver City General Plan Update: Land Use Alternatives Survey our “Core Values are broad and subjective beliefs that define Culver City’s culture and provide a sense of direction for General Plan implementation”.
◦ Once implemented the General Plan’s regulations will be Culver City’s law’s for the following 25 years.
◦ The values that the General Plan is committed to make operational embrace (1) equity and inclusion, (2) sustainability, (3) innovation and creativity, and (4) compassion and community.
◦ To avoid equivocation or prevarication, the upcoming housing and homelessness regulations must clearly reflect the implementation of these ideals
2. The current ‘zeitgeists” contending with one another in a divisive manner do not express inclusion of all four of our City’s proposed values. Hopefully their proponents will flesh out their plan’s details for community consideration. From my limited knowledge of each proposal, the opposing viewpoints are YIMBY and NIMBY.
▪ YIMBYS (Yes in my backyard) are working to end exclusionary zoning and racial inequities by implementing CA Senate Bills 9 & 10 (or a Culver City version). However,
1. The Senate bill if passed will in effect take away our democractic right to local planning. Call Senator Kamlager if you want to preserve our municipal planning rights.
2. These bills allow densification of single family, duplex, and multiplex lots.
3. To make an informed decision, I would like to know how they address the City’s core values? Which of the four RHNA demographics they address? And at what cost? Paid by whom?
▪ NIMBYS (Not in my back yard) – Maintaining the status quo is a non-answer to a critica social need. Proponents need to address the questions listed above.

1. An Alternative Vision for consideration:
It reflects all of our core values, and maintains our “small town” feel while addressing every RHNA income level. Getting its funding from Measure J, it is also cost-effective and adds to the ROI. This plan revitalizes small businesses, creates immediate access to transit-oriented corridors, includes rent-to-own and allows for reparations to our African American, as well as first peoples living here.

5. The Vision:
Imagine second or third level dwelling units built using green building standards atop our small retail businesses along transit-oriented corridors with new facades revitalizing our “Mom & Pop” retail stores and eateries (as in Covina’s Old Town new storetop housing).
Enhancing the street view and separating the housing from street noise and pollution is a dense line of carbon sequestering trees cutting household cooling costs with its heat sinks.
The housing is bridged across intersecting streets with parkettes for the community and/or parking lots for the stores below – creating space for outdoor dining, dedicated bike lanes, etc.
Rooftop parks and/or community gardens extend the“small-town feel”helping build communities.
Permeable concrete pavements with rainwater catchment basins underneath drain water down into a bladder built underneath the alleys behind the stores.
Our densely paved City with only 1% unpaved area left avoids more urban sprawl as we provide our lower income neighbors with more green space for their kids to play outdoors, grow food, and enjoy better mental health.
Fund the vision through Measure J – paid for by our taxes. This gives our municipality ownership of the housing, thus it can provide reparation that addresses Culver City’s racially discriminating past, and provide each income level the ability to afford rent-to-own units. 
Providing on-the-job training + alternatives to incarceration, Measure J gets tradesmen needed jobs in the building and landscaping industries + fulfills other intentions of this Measure.

There are many other details and links to documentation I can send upon request, but enough for now. Let’s engage in robust dialogue regarding the costs/benefits of each option to determine our steps forward.
Doing so with respect & compassion for one another and our elected officials, let’s avoid divisive rants. Democracy was founded on passionate discourse, not on hatred! 

In closing, let’s keep in mind Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration poem,The Hill We Climb!
Let us “merge mercy with might, and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country {if I may add, our City} better than the one we were left with”.

Suzanne De Benedittis

The Actors' Gang


  1. Dear Suzanne,
    Thank you for requesting robust and respectful dialogue! I agree completely. I would also add a plea for City Council not to make substantial changes to zoning and housing plans that cannot be undone. There must be a full and public discussion to include the following:
    Postcard campaign to all residents and businesses
    Specific affected neighborhood engagement with clear explanations and ramifications of changes
    Fact-based proof that proposed changes will achieve the stated goals (increased affordable housing) including evidence of results from other cities for comparison.
    Due diligence by Staff and City Council to collect information about restrictive practices regarding zoning, mortgages, and banking currently occurring in Culver City and identification of which entities, if any, are participating in inequitable practices.
    Verifiable calculations of the impact on city infrastructure of suggested changes including sewer, water, electricity, parking, and traffic.

    There is no rush for City Council to make changes. The current ADU and new mixed-use ordinance with the affordable units inclusion will meet the State requirements. Then we will have time to properly discuss and explore options.

    Jamie Wallace

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.