Dear Editor – Why I Would Welcome More Neighbors in Culver City

Dear Editor,

   I’m writing to share a bit about why I would welcome more neighbors in Culver City. I grew up off Overland and went to El Rincon, Culver Middle and Culver High. I returned to Culver City about 9 years ago for a job at UCLA, and in part because my wife and I had a new baby we wanted to be near my mom. Culver City was very different. The restaurants downtown were cool, but after a while I realized just how few of my high school friends were still here. Very few. Of course many moved for work or other reasons, but as I started to reconnect with my peers, the ones living in Culver City were either living with parents, in a friend’s garage, or even in a van. These housing choices were not what they wanted, and they were not because they didn’t have decent jobs. I later reconnected with more classmates who live in the LA region, and they told me they wanted to live in Culver City but it was too expensive. At the same time, I noticed how many of the parents of my friends and acquaintances of my youth were still living in the same family house, just now by themselves. I know many of these parents, and they wish they could see their kids more, but traffic prevents it.

It so happens that I moved back to LA to teach in the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. My research is on housing policies around the world, and until coming home, I did mostly research on housing in Mexico and in Asia. The US is unique in the way our local ordinances prevent people from expanding the number of housing units on their land. In many countries, as families grow, new units can be added, or elderly households can build small apartments to rent out for retirement income. A group of friends of mine in Mexico pooled their resources to build a four family building on a small lot in a neighborhood they loved. One thing that always stuck out to me when I travel to cities in other countries, is how much more livable many neighborhood streets are, with a vibrancy that is in part because of the medium density housing. More neighbors means more walkability to your errands, more neighborhood shops, and less traffic.

I am excited about the changes being proposed through the General Plan Update, and I am excited to welcome new neighbors to Culver City as we begin to allow more housing to be built here. I hope some of them are old friends from high school, through maybe not that one guy who used to bully me.


Paavo Monkkonen

The Actors' Gang


  1. Dear Mr Monkkonen,
    My husband and I are one of the “parents” of kids you knew. Yes , we live in our original larger home, and we like to have a quiet neighborhood, just as it was when our kids were small. We choose this block because of that. There are many streets in Culver City that are noisy and vibrant. I am not advising to change them . I feel we all should be able to stay on a street we want. I can walk to many stores for errands, but I do want these stores on my block. And you say more neighbors means less traffic? Since when did density equal less traffic?How in the world is that possible? How many people do you see riding bikes now? Does your mom ride a bike everywhere for errands? As it turns out, you live across the street from me. Yes, I do see you ride a bike, but I also notice you and your wife in your separate cars quite a bit! So if your lot had 4 units on it, I suspect I will see at least 6-8 cars more cars for that property.
    We have worked hard to buy and maintain our current lifestyle and home . It didn’t just fall into our hands. Who is the Governor to tell us we need to have multiple units all around me? Especially since he lives on 8 acres in a nice Sacramento neighborhood!
    Everyone has a choice, and everyone is not entitled to what they want. Many of our friends had to move to the valley to buy a home, as they could not afford the Westside. My husband and I would love to move to Malibu in a house on the beach. But, it is not financially feasible for us. Do I insist Malibu needs to add housing for me? Don’t think so.
    Camille Greenspan

  2. Be careful of what you wish for:
    Added noise
    Overcrowded schools
    Traffic congestion
    Loss of affordable housing stock
    Weaker infrastructure
    Additional crime
    Larger police department
    Diminished equity
    Failure to address homeless
    Added overall smog
    Loss of use of private backyards

  3. Dear Editor,
    I like trees, I like quiet and I like neighbors. High density tends to distant people. After the pandemic, removing outdoors area for the sake of hardscape and the removal of the tree canopy is a form of insanity.

    I grew up in Culver City and raised my kids here. We all went to the public schools. Everyone who buys a home here and lives here for ten plus years, cannot afford to buy their own home. That makes them middle class. Destroying older homes ahead of their time is bad for the environment. It is good for developers and investors.

    Elimination of R-1 housing is designed to enrich the 1%, it actually makes housing more unaffordable. Listen to Lynetta who tells it like it is:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.