On June 28th, 2021 the majority on the City Council voted to up zone such that R1 zoning would be eliminated and accommodate 4-plexes on a single family lot. This, in spite of the fact that the state had already allowed an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and a junior ADU in a single family lot a few years earlier. Thus, essentially creating a de facto R3 which doesn’t exist as such on the books, but only in practical terms for all intents and purposes.
If we are to adopt best practices as we do in medicine, one might look at the Newton, Mass. experiment where this city was up zoned in the name of affordable housing over the protests of residents. Local residents’ protests were ignored, demonized and even publicly bullied by an elected city councilor. After the dust settled, Newton was left with thousands of units of luxury housing that do nothing to bring down housing costs. They now boasts “luxury boutique living” starting at $3,700 to rent a 1,050 square feet apartment. If somebody had already made a mistake, we are supposed to learn from it rather than repeat it!
On Friday, July 9th, 2021, Christian Horvath, City Council member in Redondo Beach, Olivia Valentine who is mayor protem of Hawthorne and Drew Boyles, mayor of El Segundo wrote an op-ed in the LA Times. Their article entitled, “Wrong Answer to California’s Housing Crisis” explains why elimination of single family lots would lower quality of life for all communities. The rush to end single family zoning as outlined in SB 9 without consideration of “carrying capacity limits” such as sewer limitations, traffic conditions and water supply would be courting disaster especially when we superimpose the fact that we have four earthquake faults running in and around Culver City. It is of note that a bipartisan group of 120 locally elected officials from 48 cities across the state have signed on to this article. This includes representatives from not just wealthy communities but also from low and middle-income communities.
So, tweaking just one variable that contributed to a problem never solves a problem in its entirety. It behooves us to study multiple solutions to remedy the problem if we are to make any headway.
Khin Khin Gyi, M.D.