Dear Editor – Culver City’s Proposed Housing Element Upzoning

Dear Editor, 

Perhaps future historians will, with the advantage of hindsight, be able to look back and dissect how a small group of clever, organized, and powerful interests engineered the transformation of Culver City from a lovely town of idyllic, family-oriented neighborhoods into a soulless, overcrowded, overpriced version of greater Los Angeles.

These same historians will marvel at this group’s ability to cloak their actions in obtuse proceedings with very little public outreach, along with a singular lack of attention or interest in listening to those that opposed them. They will note the arrogant doublespeak voice with which this group governed, and the brilliance of cloaking their agenda in the guise of a progressive, liberal group of unified citizenry. Perhaps as a sign of their non-discriminatory embrace, developers, realtors, and venture capitalists were included (mind you, all smiling from the shadows). Orwell could be found smiling too, but for entirely different reasons.

By the time this happens I will have bid farewell to my beloved neighborhood. I will not see the inevitable onslaught of hulking, multistory, multi-unit buildings that will be unaffordable to anyone without a six or seven-figure income, along with the subsequent elimination of greenspace as developers maximize every square inch of real estate. I won’t see the added pollution or simmer in the inevitable summer heatsink. I will not see the gridlock of traffic and the inability to park on one’s own street, or the strain on under-equipped power, water, and sewage networks. I won’t see the rise of out-manned public services and the decline of a once-coveted school system.

Admittedly, none of this will happen overnight. It takes time to lose one’s heart and soul, even if the doctors managing the patient have bypassed the rules regarding end-of-life covenants. But the writing is on the wall (tall ones, to be precise) and the large-scale interests behind this upzoning movement, like big tech and private equity firms — not just here in Culver City but across the state and the nation — will likely prevail. There’s too much money at stake, and as the old adage goes, you can’t fight City Hall, especially one as autocratic as this one. It’s funny, I used to think it was just the far right that played this way, but now I see that greed and power have no ideology, no color, no political stripe, other than a self-satisfying siren song of self-interest. Yes, I’m a bit naive. And yes, I do love alliteration.

In closing, I will note that I have written many an ignored letter to our City Council, to the point of wondering why I even bother. I suppose it’s because I love Culver City too much to see it dismantled without a fight. I know many people who feel the same. I’ve begun supporting movements that will take on upzoning in California through legal action and direct voter participation. Perhaps this will stymie, for a time, the inevitable acquiescence to the moneyed interests that are pushing upzoning and paying lip service to the lack of affordable housing in the Golden State, a paucity historians will note to be the greatest tragedy of all.

Ken Niles

The Actors' Gang


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