Dear Editor – Climate Scholar POV on Housing

Dear Editor,

I’d like to share the following open letter to Culver City and its leaders from UC Berkeley climate and energy professor Daniel Kammen, whose research has confirmed Culver City’s climate imperative to “re-evaluate zoning citywide, emphasizing density near transit and permitting missing middle housing in its R1 neighborhoods.”

Professor Kammen is a former State Department Science Envoy and Lead Author for the UN’s IPCC Climate Panel, work which garnered a Nobel Prize. In a time when anthropogenic climate change literally threatens humanity’s future, his letter to Culver City leaders is one to heed. Though many other less-progressive communities and electeds have long ignored the clear message of climate scientists (and our own patio thermometers), my hope is that we Culver Citizens will take this opportunity to prove we really mean what so many of our lawn signs say: “In this house we believe science is real.”

Sincerely,

Patrick Meighan
Culver City for More Homes


To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council
The City of Culver City, California

I am writing in strong support of the proposal referred for staff study on 6/28/2021, enabling incremental infill in Culver City’s low-density single-family areas, in conjunction with the 6/23 instruction to assess feasibility Affordable Housing Overlay and other housing affordability measures.

I am a professor of energy at UC Berkeley, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, former Science Envoy for the United States Department of State, and a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In my study of the carbon footprints of 700 California cities¹, my colleague Dr. Chris Jones and I found that a potent tool for a high-opportunity city like Culver City to reduce its per-capita emissions is urban infill. In fact, adding housing (particularly multi-family housing) near transit, jobs and services promotes civil cohesion, diversity, and sustainability. This finding is consistent with Culver City’s own staff analysis, which projects the greatest reductions of per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, residential energy usage and VMT in the land use alternatives which allow for incremental housing infill in every Culver City neighborhood.²

In my research and writings, I have argued that it is sound climate policy to build homes near jobs. But Culver City has done the opposite: building just 1 new housing unit for every 49 jobs added over the past 15 years. This is an ecological and social justice disaster as excess workers are forced further away, creating sprawl that consumes open space, clogs freeways and increases greenhouse gas emissions. But it’s also a moral disaster, as housing scarcity and skyrocketing home prices exclude low-income and working-class families from Culver City and its opportunities and amenities. If Culver City wishes to minimize per-capita emissions, address housing inequities, and strive for social and climate justice, Culver City must add housing at all price levels (including accessible below-market rate levels) and re- evaluate zoning citywide, emphasizing density near transit and permitting missing middle housing in its R1 neighborhoods.

I urge you to continue the process you commenced on 6/23 and 6/28, addressing Culver City’s housing needs with a just, sustainable, and comprehensive citywide strategy.

Sincerely,

Daniel Kammen
James and Catherine Lau Distinguished Chair in Sustainability
UC Berkeley

Ting Internet is in Culver City!

2 Comments

  1. I wonder if just by adding ADUs and building triplexes on previously R-1 plots as they come on to the market is really the most ecologically sound use of our resources. Building many dwellings on one large parcel is much more economically feasible and ecologically sound. The building of homes would done in one area, not willy-nilly all-over our city, at different times over the coming years.
    Most people probably wouldn’t guess who controls (owns?) the most square footage of land locally: It is our local city and county governments–over 31,000,000 square feet–over 20% of the land within Culver City. The city has three adjacent and vacant parcels over by West LA and east-end of Raintree Complex that add up tp over 500,000 square feet. This property looks like it could be developed into 400+ low-cost and affordable housing.
    The biggest cost in building homes is the cost of the land. But, since Culver City already owns the land, that cost could be reduced greatly; thereby, making the building of these new homes even more affordable.

  2. This response is the absolute definition of Not In My Back Yard. Build the housing “over there.”

    I live in Studio Village, the townhouse complex next to Temple Akiba. Some in the neighborhood (including, lamentably, residents in my townhouse association) are fighting that development because it’s too many dwellings on one large parcel.

    I just wish that we had the leadership in this city to have a reasonable, rational and healthy conversation about these issues, to find some consensus about what is best for the city as a whole, and what most of us can live with.

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