Dear Editor – Property Owners Input on Housing Element is Essential to General Plan

Dear Editor,

Your city council majority wants to allow 4 full-sized housing units on every single-family home lot. This is called upzoning where they will rezone single-family neighborhoods from R1 to R4. Right now, a homeowner can add both a full sized Auxiliary Dwelling Unit (“ADU”) (up to 1,200 sq. ft) and a Jr. ADU (max. 500 sq. ft.) on their lot.

The Housing Element (“HE”) is part of the General Plan that the city has to update. The plans show that the city goes further than the state! The State currently only allows duplexes and ADUs. Our city council majority wants to allow 4 full-sized housing units to replace a current single-family home.

At the Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, City Council meeting, Mayor Alex Fisch said that there were consequences for Culver City if the Housing Element is not certified in time (Action Item A-4). What Mayor Fisch did not explain is that while the HE is due in October, every California city is entitled to a 120 day grace period, which means that the plan is not due until February 15, 2022. We have time to correct the problems with the Housing Element and the site inventory and build community consensus around housing issues.
What is going on? The HE is the only part of the General Plan that has to be certified by the California Department of Housing & Community Development (“HCD”). The HE is required to have a site inventory list of properties. This list of properties, both commercial and residential, is supposed to contain properties that can be feasibly converted into multi-family housing. The planners made guesses based on data about which properties to include. However, the site inventory is riddled with mistakes, duplications, and unreasonably included properties that are not feasible for multi-family buildings.

If you own a home that is on the site inventory, they are assuming that in the near future you plan to tear it down and replace it with multi-family homes. Or they assume you are going to sell it to someone who will “recycle” the property. In the HE it states that “However, property owners’ interest in redevelopment, which is not measurable, is the most critical factor in determining the realistic yield in the Incremental Infill area.”

Tell HCD what your interest is in recycling your property.

If your home or commercial property is on the site inventory, you should write to HCD and tell them that you do not intend to sell or tear down your building and replace it. Culver City Neighbors United has already drafted sample letters and provided email addresses. The review period ends soon, so your letters must be sent as soon as possible.

Sending these letters will cause the HCD analyst to reconsider certifying the HE. If the HE is certified as it is written right now, the city has three years to rezone and implement the 4 housing units on every lot. Under current state law, that upzoning to 4 homes cannot be undone. Note: the city’s plan goes further than the new state requirements.

The HE and site inventory need to be fixed to comply with state law. Additionally, the HE states that due to cost, no low-income or very-low-income will feasibly be built in single-family areas. It stands to reason, then, that the city should drop its plan to upzone these residential neighborhoods and concentrate on where builders can realistically build affordable housing.

The city must slow down and re-write the HE and site inventory properly. There is time and they should use it.

Go to CulverCityNeighborsUnited.org and see if your property is on the list. Click on a letter sample and send it to the HCD. Please do it now, before time runs out.

Jamie Wallace
Culver City Neighbors United

Ting Internet is in Culver City!

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