Dear Editor – Undefinable Neighborhood Character

Dear Editor,

What is neighborhood character? Is it the single family home across my street with a front yard full of 20 years of hoarded junk? Is it the homeowner on my block who had me ticketed for encroaching mere inches into a red zone instead of just knocking on my door? Is it the duplex down my street that houses two groups of the same family comfortably? Is it the home that loves “the way things are” but also parks their car in their front yard instead of planting flowers? Is it the restaurant on the corner that I can walk to and pick up food that is also the first floor of a six-story apartment building? Or, is it the six lane boulevard a half block away where motorists drag race after the light turns green?

Which of these is neighborhood character? It’s all of them and none of them. It’s the things we like and the things we really want to change. However, throughout the housing discussion that has gripped Culver City, the preservation of neighborhood character, at its root, has focused on one thing: preventing additional housing.

Character preservationists are not putting out little lawn signs to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths along any of the major boulevards. They are not angry about the active oil field many can see from their front lawns. They are not decrying the inhumanity of the way we treat our unhoused neighbors. These are all things, however, that all of us, as Culver City residents, could be angry about.

But instead, preservationists are angry simply about the potential for additional housing to be built anywhere that they perceive affects them.

Does that mean neighborhood character must be defined by a finite limit on the number of residents? Is it rooted in the fear that if multi-family housing is built in the suburban lanes of Carlson Park then seemingly “less desirable people” or “poor people” who rent will move in and ruin the property value of homes?

When we use an undefinable term like “neighborhood character” as a weapon, we are saying “we value this intangible idea more than allowing more people to live here.” That, by implication, is exclusionary and inhumane. It undermines the social fabric of this city and is antithetical to addressing the existential crisis of climate change.

So instead of defining what neighborhood character is, we should focus on what we want to see in our city. Available housing, affordable housing, safe and walkable streets and crosswalks, trees that provide shade, a thriving school system with teachers that can afford to live locally, public spaces that encourage community and interaction, local businesses that thrive, and the ability to welcome new and more members into the community of Culver City.

If we put aside our self-interest and work to build the new housing that Culver City needs to maintain and grow our community, our new neighbors will thank us, our children and grandchildren will thank us, and we too will live in a better city for it.


Brady Borcherding

The Actors' Gang


  1. It all bypasses the central argument in my book: unnecessary density in a community already proven to have maximized and reached full capacity as evidenced in the 1990s with two incidents: Rodney King’s fallout and the Northridge earthquake. The “big one” is coming and CC is built on UNTESTED liquefaction ground. There is tons of available housing MUCH MORE affordable in my neighborhood of North County San Diego. Houses with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths 2300 square feet on lovely property for $800,000. Self-entitlement and arrogance make people want something they have to “force.” The argument is nonsensical. The character seems to be “righteous self-entitled arrogance” to demand a RIGHT to live in a place overcrowded and which is now “fighting” amongst itself. That should be the first clue that more density won’t resolve a thing – for anyone. A society in conflict, stress, losing its civility. What is it people are missing here?

  2. Thank you Brady. You couldn’t have captured this 20 year resident’s thoughts on this topic any better.

  3. Thank you so much, Brady. I also have family that lives in northern San Diego County. It’s a lovely place to live, but it’s not terribly helpful for someone who works in Culver City. I have lived in multi-family housing for as long as I have lived in Culver City, both in Fox Hills and at Studio Village (next to Temple Akiba). I have never felt conflict, stress, or a loss of civility because of where I live.

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