It was rejected. But why? The attempt to upzone or rezone R-1 was a failure. It took up far too much time and energy, and in the end the official analysis was that even if upzoning were to happen, it would result in maybe 140 of the 3400 homes the State HCD is asking us to plan for building by the year 2029. Too much ideological grandstanding and not enough work on real achievable solutions — that’s what got us to where we are today with this now twice-failed housing element.
So, we are now out of compliance. That is a major issue. There are funding programs that our City may not qualify for as a result of being out of compliance.
What did the City get wrong?
- Culver City Staff was incorrect when they presented at the housing element adoption hearing that the Council only had to adopt the document to allow the City to be in compliance. They also told the public that through Council adoption it would prevent a need to rezone by October 2022, which is not true. The City is now out of compliance and must also now rezone by October 2022 to meet RHNA (this will likely happen in mixed use and commercial, as it should have all along).
- The housing element is so deficient that it is unlikely to receive approval from the State until there is a complete reconceptualization of the site inventory. The inventory needs to focus on realistic sites that can be redeveloped at realistic capacities without requiring a citizen referendum or some other major commitment. This will take quite a bit of time and work. We are also concerned that Council and/or Staff will ask for even more funding beyond the amounts already approved as extra funding for this work.
- The site inventory still contains too many sites that HCD considers unrealistic or that Culver City has failed to prove as credible. Why has the City included land parcels, for example, that are part of the Culver Crossroads shopping center? Jersey Mike’s and Chipotle? How about Petrelli’s Steakhouse? Del Taco?
- The housing programs need to be completely reworked to reflect commitments by the City and those commitments need to be backed up by a legitimate public outreach process that shows support for the programs that the City is actually committing to achieving. HCD is asking for evidence that the City has adequately connected with the community and communicated the possibility for the sites that have been identified for redeveloping. In other words, the lack of communication that many have commented on for months now has been recognized by the State as a major problem.
- HCD is asking Culver City to show that there is public acceptance of some of the commitments that it’s claiming, such as a change to the building height limit, which the City seems to assume will occur. This is extremely important because it’s not possible to develop at the densities that the housing element assumes without removing the height limit. However, the City provides no evidence that that height limit could be removed. And, of course, it would require a voter referendum. So, that’s not happening any time soon. But why was it written into the housing element as an assumption?
- HCD is wary of the lack of response by the City to what it sees as legitimate public concern about proposed changes to the R-1 district. It has asked the City to directly respond to the many comments from residents who do not favor removal of R-1, and does not yet see a plan forward from the City to reply.
Bottom line — stay involved! Your comments and engagement make a difference. The State HCD is responsive to your concerns. Continue to write directly to them: firstname.lastname@example.org, Paul.McDougall@hcd.ca.gov, and HousingElements@hcd.ca.gov