Community Meeting on Affordable Housing Hears Support and Dissent

The proposed housing development at the Culver Palms United Methodist Church held a third community meeting on Feb. 28, 2023, inviting interested parties to look at renderings, speak with strategists, and comment on their concerns.

The development, already approved and partly funded by the City of Culver City, will offer one, two and three bedrooms apartments for renters making between 30 and 70 percent of the average local income. The Santa Monica Community Corporation, partnering with CPUMC, has a 40 year history of buildings like this, and manages almost 700 apartments in Santa Monica. 

The meeting was well attended, with both Mayor Albert Vera, Jr. and council member Dan O’Brien sitting in, and former Mayor Andy Weissman present as well. It was run by the church’s pastor, Rev. Lisa Fitzpatrick, and offered representatives from both SMCC and and the architecture firm FSY.  

The building is planned to be five stories of housing over two stories of parking, one of them underground.

Rev. Fitzpatrick offered the meeting was there for people to comment and offer suggestions, and a number of ideas on both design and landscaping were articulated from the audience. Neighbors who felt they would be closely impacted by the build asked a number of questions about height, windows and landscaping, with several being antagonistic to the entire project. 

The physical facts of building were considered as a possible barrier to implementing some suggestions, as well as the cost of the build; every subterranean parking space would cost an estimated $60,000, so putting both stories of parking underground is seen as unaffordable. The height calibration was limited by the city’s height standard, and adding another story to the front of the building to take one off the back would exceed that legal standard. 

Many neighbors and local residents spoke to appreciate and support the project. The Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble (not affiliated with the Methodist Church) noted that as a “long time resident, I moved to Culver City a little more than 20 years ago, and this kind of space for middle class families is what really feeds a community.” She also added that she had been a resident on Globe Ave. during the Habitat for Humanity build, and many of her neighbors had been skeptical of that project. “The people who moved into those houses; just the nicest, the very best neighbors you could even hope to have.” 

Local transportation activist Michelle Weiner was in attendance, and brought up Metro’s plan to have a train running on Sepulveda to the airport. “This is the kind of housing that works with expanded public transportation.”

Fitzpatrick offered several times that the design was still in process, and that they were hoping to hear from as many people as possible with suggestions and perspectives. She also noted that she was to be stepping down as pastor, taking an early retirement over health issues. “Easter will be my last service here, and the [Methodist Church] will be sending a new pastor.”

The developers will be meeting with city staff later this week to discuss a financing package from state of California that requires specific transit projects from the city. 

The build was approved by the city’s Planning Commission at the January meeting. 

Judith Martin-Straw



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