City Council to Take Up Zoning Issue at June Meeting

In response to a strong presentation by local organizers, the Culver City Council has agreed to agendize a discussion on zoning to take place at the June 16, 2021 meeting.

That fifty-six people who had signed on to speak to “Joint Public Comment,” ran up against the need to close the meeting at 11 pm caused Mayor Alex Fisch to set up 30 minutes for the speakers, allotting two minutes each. 

Ongoing discussions about handing the housing crisis have come to the council for several years now, and the laws have changed on matters of rent control, real estate sales taxes, and additional dwelling units. That zoning would be on the list comes as no surprise. 

The local organization ‘Culver City for More Homes’ turned out many members to speak to the issue, and the first speaker, Greg Jamrok, spoke to the fact that it was hard for many people who work in Culver City to find housing. “Even the teachers at our schools, who teach my children, don’t get to live here… we want to cultivate a robust and thriving ecosystem with many types of residents from all walks of life.” 

The idea that increased density would help to resolve the issue was not universally supported. Speaker Jamie Wallace asked for more public notification on the discussion. “Building more dense housing is not going to lead to more affordable housing… It should only go on the agenda after every neighborhood has had a meeting, and [deep background] on the effects of getting rid of R-1 zoning, which is really what we are talking about here.” 

While not all 56 people who asked to speak got to be a part of the conversation, many voices were heard on both sides. The council agreed to add a discussion item to the agenda for the meeting of June 14, 2021. 

The issue is one that Mayor Fisch considers a central responsibility of the city. With the state of California mandating the number of housing units that must be added, the policy question is not if the city mandates changes, but when and how.

“People are new to thinking about this. For example, they haven’t encountered the term “exclusionary zoning” and assume that it’s an activist framing, instead of the literal description used by the United States Supreme Court in Euclid v. Ambler,” Fisch noted after the meeting on social media. “The consequences of our past land use choices were not yet studied and understood . . . and [opponents of zoning changes]  haven’t been exposed to that understanding of consequences. “

Redressing the ‘redlining’ that prevented non-whites from getting mortgage loans for much of the city’s history,  the legal challenge of “exclusionary zoning” will require some very careful crafting of policy. If that change will be the end of single family zoning remains to be seen. 

Judith Martin-Straw




The Actors' Gang


  1. Listened to the speakers last night. Can anyone explain why the discussion had to take place on or before June 14th? The speakers made it sound like it was an important cut-off date!

  2. Dear Editor,
    Thank you for mentioning my comments

    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.

    I 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, and information about where funding to meet these increased needs will come from.

    There is no rush. And City Council needs to fully represent all of the people of Culver City, not only the ones who have the loudest voices.

    Jamie Wallace

  3. In answer to George Lasse’s question, there is a joint hearing between City Council and the Planning Commission sometime in mid-June. Please note, the state mandates that Culver City has have a housing element plan in place by an October deadline. There is no state or regulatory pressure to make substantive changes to zoning or the housing element at the current time. The city has to have a housing plan to meet the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (“RHNA”).

  4. Please note that the case of Shelley v. Kraemer 334 U.S. 1 (1948) banned the redlining in deeds and mortgage documents in 1948. Given that Culver City was formed in 1917 (and scarcely existed, if at all) prior to 1917, then the “red-lining” in Culver City barely lasted for 31 years. Restrictive covenants ceased to be enforced many years prior to 1948. At a maximum, such covenants existed for 31 years. Since 1948, restrictive covenants have not been enforceable. That is 75 years. So Culver City has NOT had restrictive covenants for “MOST of the City’s history” in your article above. In any event restrictive racial covenants are entirely different from LEGAL zoning requirements which are currently being discussed by the City Council. Legal zoning requirements prevent parking and traffic issues, over-crowding, electrical, plumbing, flooding, mud slide problems, and inconsistent uses (putting a restaurant or bar next to single family homes.). Despite the rhetoric of the majority of the City Council (and of your rival, the LA Times) zoning has nothing to do with race.

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