I grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Northern California and, like most Americans, was accustomed to a lifestyle that centered on the single-family neighborhood and the automobile. College was my first taste of something different: a community in which school, friends, entertainment, and the doctor were always just a short walk away.
After graduating, I found my way to Culver City and now live in a multi-family neighborhood that is sort of like the “grown up” version of college in that I’m surrounded by a diversity of people, home types, and experiences. I’m able to walk to several beautiful green spaces, to multiple grocery stores, to my dentist and doctor, and to all that Downtown Culver City has to offer. Being a bus or train-ride away from work, the beach, and Downtown LA also allows me to live comfortably without a car. Getting to bike down my street and onto the Ballona Creek Path that takes me straight to the ocean has made me the envy of friends who live elsewhere in the LA area.
I’m so grateful to have access to Culver City’s countless amenities, but by almost all measures, I’m very privileged: I earn enough money to rent in Culver City (with 3 roommates) and was fortunate enough to be the first group to tour (and then claim) a rental property in an in-demand neighborhood. After living in Culver City for two and a half years, it’s clear to me that we’re in need of a drastic change in how we house people, and two main things drive my desire to see a denser, more equitable, and more affordable Culver City.
First, I want more people to experience all that I love about living here. Culver City is legally required to add roughly 3,300 new homes at various income levels over the next 8 years as part of the General Plan Update. These new neighbors will be joining our community, and we ought to do all that we can to equitably distribute their new homes throughout our city so we don’t exacerbate the injustices of the past by relegating them to major corridors.
And second, our city should be doing all that it can to fight against the world’s greatest crisis: climate change. The data is clear that denser communities emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions per household. In fact, the City’s own reports note the climate benefits of increasing home supply across our neighborhoods. As the climate crisis brings more extreme heat to Los Angeles, cooler coastal communities like Culver City ought to welcome more people. We should envision housing more neighbors as an opportunity to promote climate equity and enable more sustainable transportation that’s supported by home density.
Sadly, I’ve heard folks at City Council meetings imply that my input is less valuable than theirs because (1) I’m not a homeowner, (2) I haven’t lived in Culver City for thirty years like they have, and (3) I’m in what they perceive as the minority of residents who want more homes in our community. But remember, there are literally THOUSANDS of people who stand to benefit from removing barriers to housing and who would gladly move into Culver City homes if they existed. Unfortunately, these people are just not currently represented in these community discussions because they don’t yet have the opportunity to live here!
I often think about how fortunate I am to be one of the forty thousand people living in Culver City, and how close to NOT being able to live in Culver City I was. Thankfully, recent state law has expanded zoning capacity and the majority of our City Council is serious about policies to produce more affordable housing. I’m hopeful that these steps will bring about a more climate-friendly city that welcomes new neighbors in an equitable manner.
As I look at my street, I see a vibrant community of renters and homeowners, of single-family and multi-family homes. I want to ensure that the neighbors I’ve met, those I haven’t met, and those who haven’t moved in yet are all able to thrive in our community and access all that Culver City has to offer.