On Monday, May 10, the Culver City Council voted 3-2 to put on the June 14 agenda a discussion to eliminate R1/single-family home zoning. This was in response to an organized group that incorrectly believes eliminating single-family zoning will create affordable housing and help alleviate racial inequity in Culver City. Their plan would allow developers and land speculators to build up to 4 units (or more?) on almost any single-family home lot.
There is an affordable housing crisis, no doubt. However, single-family homes are not the cause. We can preserve single-family homes as well as support and build affordable and equitable housing for all.
Many housing experts, tenant unions, and community-based activists express concern that eliminating single-family zoning (upzoning) will bring in more wealthy tenants and homeowners. Builders with deep pockets could buy a single-family lot, build a 4-plex and offer them at the highest amount possible. These housing experts say this pro-developer scenario would incentivize the elimination of our current affordable housing stock (older R1 homes and ADUs) leaving behind current residents and the people in our community who need the most help. This plan does not guarantee affordable or low-income housing. It just guarantees more housing.
There are effective and creative solutions to our affordable housing crisis, including: providing incentives for owners of low-and-moderate-income housing to make rent affordable; building multi-use housing/retail/office/restaurant space along commercial corridors; redeveloping commercial/industrial and underutilized spaces for housing; focusing on under-served areas in our city, and promoting the allowed building of up to two ADUs on single-family lots.
You have a short time to spread the word and express your opinions about the elimination of R1 single-family zoning.
One: Complete the City’s Land Use Survey. If you have time, please watch the video or read the presentation, as some of the terminology may be unfamiliar to you. Use the space at the end to type in your thoughts about abolishing single-family zoning. (Pictureculvercity.com/alternatives).
Two: Write a letter/email to our City Council: [email protected]. Copy the city clerk so that it is a matter of public record.
Three: Attend the June 14 City Council meeting and tell council in person/virtually. (https://culver-city.legistar.com)
City Council must pause. Too many constituents are unaware of the big decisions being made. Our local government must involve our community with the utmost transparency. At the very least, they must take the conversation to the residents by hosting meetings in neighborhoods and community centers, and notifying our community with mailings, postcards, and door flyers, etc.
We need true community collaboration to solve the real problem – the urgent need for effective funding strategies to help provide affordable, safe housing for people who want to live here. We can do this as well as maintain R1/single-family zoning.
The solution to our affordable housing crisis requires thoughtful, effective, and community-building solutions. With innovation and creativity, we can build on our vibrant community and help shape it into the inclusive, diverse, and welcoming city we want it to be. Together, we must try to solve the crisis with compassion, humanity, and facts.
Let’s slow down and do this right.
Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin
on behalf of the community members of Culver City Neighbors United
Eliminating R1 zoning is a bananas idea that I hope the city council will strongly reconsider. It’s very much a knee-jerk reaction to what is a serious housing shortage. But it is a poor excuse for a quick and easy fix, and will only create more problems than it will possibly solve (because it most certainly will not solve the affordable housing shortage).
Apropos of this conversation, in today’s Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) declared: “In too many communities around the country, restrictive zoning laws that were borne out of racial segregation prevent new affordable housing from being built. Using exclusionary zoning to keep families out of certain neighborhoods is wrong… I was so glad to see @POTUS call for the elimination of exclusionary zoning and to end harmful land use policies as part of his American Jobs plan, that has to be a part of addressing our housing crisis.”
Senator Warren joins the aforementioned President Biden, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Julian Castro (President Obama’s HUD Secretary in calling for an end to exclusionary zoning. So if this is “a bananas idea,” Kathy, it appears to be one that’s supported by a great many Democratic politicians whom I personally admire.
Not Donald Trump, though. I’m sorry to report that Mr. Trump is an ardent supporter of exclusionary zoning (“[The Democrats are going to] eliminate single-family zoning, bringing who knows into your suburbs, so your communities will be unsafe and your housing values will go down.”)
I agree! Step back council members! Eliminating R1 zoning is a big mistake. Taking away or adjusting single family dwellings is going to cause big problems for our city. Yes affordable housing is needed, but eliminating R1 zoning isn’t the answer. We will end up having units stacked on top of each other costing probably about $3000 to $5000 a month to rent or own. The west side is a popular area and the demand is great, thus causing our rents to be so high.
Let’s peer into Culver’s near future! Apple just announced that there will be 3,000 more employees coming to the Culver City area. These should be high-skilled, high- salaried workers who probably should be able to afford and support the rising prices of our local housing market, thus supporting the status quo of housing.
We also have a group of activists who wanted to change R-1 to R-4 thinking that would help spread affordable housing city-wide.
These are two opposing factions. One is letting natural, market forces continue unabated, the other is asking for governmental interference in the housing market. We’ve seen it before; the government interferes and there are unforeseen consequences which leads to even more governmental action.
You can’t have it both ways.
Who’s really running or ruining this city?
As a 15-year resident of Culver City, I am very much against rolling back Single Family residential zoning.
I appreciate the need for affordable housing and believe that it’s necessary. But suddenly imposing a 3-story multiplex apartment building upon residents is not my idea of a smart or equitable solution.
And I resent that those of us on this side of the argument are being painted with the “racist” brush. Harry Culver and his city planners were most assuredly racists. We are not.
I simply don’t want a 3-story apartment building next door to my one story ranch…any more than I want 5000 square foot McMansion built by a wealthy white person who works for Apple.
So please, don’t make this about racism. It’s a cheap political ploy to prey on our community’s good nature and tolerance. I moved to Carlson Park 15 years ago because it was a nice neighborhood that seemed like a great place to raise a family. The fact that I’d like to keep it that way does not mean I want to deprive others of housing.