“There is no vote to change any land use or zoning today. We are seeking direction to study… and that will take about a year, with the environmental process, and there will be community meetings for input at certain milestones … Section 34 is not involved in this item. There is no eminent domain involved in this item …The purpose is to get direction on the 2045 General Plan Update, and we have three different options.” Ashley Hefner-Hoang, the city’s advance planning manager, gave the presentation on behalf of the city, starting out by attempting to use information to quell the rumors that seemed to inspire so many people to voice their concerns.
The compelling joint meeting between the Culver City Planning Commission and the Culver City Council whose length required a second date to complete the agenda was concluded on Monday, June 28, 2021. The strategy to pare down the General Plan Update focus to study three plans to update housing regulations generated a notable amount of public controversy, and community involvement was intense.
Council member Goran Eriksson offered a motion to overturn the agenda, noting that they had all the information needed to meet the “Oct. 15th deadline for the state housing report,” and that the rest of the discussion could wait. The motion failed on a roll call vote.
There were several hours of public comment, some of it from residents who had already commented at the previous section of the meeting. Emotions ran high, and misinformation was rife on what was being discussed and how the process would continue.
When it came time for the elected officials to speak, Planning Commissioner Andrew Reilman gave a ‘bigger picture’ focus. “There’s opportunity in Culver City; people want to have businesses here, people want to live here, so we have this tension…The public stood in front of the Planning Commission and gave full-throated approval of the renovation of Culver Studios, bringing 3,000 new jobs…and now we have to house those people. This is not an issue that has just been created by us, [it has] been created by the opportunity in Culver City… I have been reading and listening voraciously to [housing policy] experts … we are not here to abolish R1 zoning tonight.”
The three land use plans created with the General Plan Update were to be considered, with one being chosen to study.
Mayor Alex Fisch stated, “While the public will have a year or more to weigh in on the important details, it is time for us to pick a side. We can and must spend the time to craft rules that bring developers under control and ensure quality buildings. I support pre-approved neighborhood-sensitive designs. That’s not hard. But the more we do to address opportunity, affordability, and resilience in this general plan, the more our children and grandchildren will thank us.”
The vote went to Option 3, with Fisch, Vice Mayor Daniel Lee and Council member Yasmine Imani McMorrin voting in favor. That option includes no changes to lots that are currently zoned as R1 that are less than 4,950 square feet. In addition, staff will investigate design options for multiplexes (three or four units) on larger lots.
The land use options being considered will not come to a decision point until “late next summer of early fall,” according to Hefner-Hoang.