I write in support of the current efforts by our local and state officials to make significant policy changes to facilitate the building of more housing in all Culver City neighborhoods. I’m a long-time homeowner in one of Culver City’s lovely “high-resource” neighborhoods and welcome increased housing density to allow more affordable housing at all income levels.
We moved here from Santa Monica in the 90’s with our two young children. We looked in Culver City primarily because single-family home prices in Santa Monica were unaffordable. Culver City was still a stretch at that time, but within our reach. That’s no longer true for middle-income individuals or families. We often hear our Culver City friends say, after marvelling at the high value of their modest homes, “I couldn’t afford to buy a home here now”. How unfortunate that our town is open only to the wealthy in 2022.
It began to trouble me about 10-15 years ago when my younger work colleagues, looking to buy their first home, discovered that Culver City prices were way too high – just like Santa Monica was for us. Now my gainfully employed adult children and many of their friends from Culver High find themselves priced out of the market in their hometown- both for homeownership and rentals. I began to look into the basis for this unfair status quo.
I began by reading books like “Generation Priced Out” by Randy Shaw that describes how our skyrocketing rents and home values are greatly due to decades old residential zoning regulations and other government policies that restrict access to low and middle-income residents. These same laws notoriously restricted homeownership by race for years. Shaw and other relevant books describe how several communities across the U.S. have begun efforts to reform these regressive housing policies-from Cambridge to Austin to L.A.
A light went off for me realizing that mostly white boomer homeowners like us who were fortunate enough to buy (or inherit) homes here have realized enormous gains in our personal wealth AT THE EXPENSE of younger generations and people of color. Our own children and their friends are truly “priced-out” of Culver City. That’s not what I signed up for when I moved into this classic Mayberry-esque neighborhood.
I’m convinced that opening up our R-1 single-family zoned neighborhoods to low and middle income people is a key element needed to create more equity and opportunity in our housing market. It’s key to tackling our crisis of the unhoused. Allowing a reasonable increase in density will begin to make homes more affordable over time. Upzoning to allow small and mid-sized multi-family housing is a matter of basic supply and demand in a free-market economy. If the vast majority of residential land in Culver City is restricted to single family housing- prices will only continue to rise. Build more homes = lower prices. Affordable housing for low-income residents must be required in new construction.
Let’s do all we can to build multi-family housing on commercial and transit corridors like Sepulveda, Venice and Washington Blvds. But there’s just not enough of available land or vacant units to meet the sensible housing construction goals set by the State without significant zoning changes- especially with our growing local workforce.
The State also rightfully requires that all cities “affirmatively further fair housing” by enacting policies and investment to build affordable housing in all areas including our many “high-resource” neighborhoods like Lindberg, Carlson, Vets and Sunkist Parks and the Crest.
These housing reforms are also a critical component to battle climate change. It’s common sense- providing housing opportunity for our expanding local workforce and our City and school employees will make meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases as they won’t have to drive 1-2 hours to work. Culver City can continue to be a leading model for all of Southern California in substantively taking on the climate crisis.
To those who claim zoning and other reforms will ruin the “character” of our beloved neighborhoods, I say wake up and walk around. Mansionization and ADU’s are changing the character of the neighborhoods. If we’re ok with these huge new structures and additions (not what I love about living here), would a couple of tasteful multi-family housing units on our blocks be that terrible? We might find that opening up our neighborhoods to a more diverse group of working families will enrich our lives.
I look forward to continuing this fascinating discourse in our community. I urge everyone to approach this matter with respect and civility towards our fellow residents and voters.