Could LA Learn from Santa Monica and Culver City Developments?

Santa Monica to require 30 percent affordable housing units for new projects downtown; Culver City reveals Ivy Station complex

Could Los Angeles learn from how Santa Monica is dealing with a persistent shortage of low income housing? Or, how Culver City is developing around transit hubs?

Santa Monica 2030

Recently, the City of Santa Monica passed a new rule that requires developers who want build in Downton Santa Monica to price at least 30 percent of their units for low income residents. KPCC’s Josie Wong reported:

“Under the city’s new policy adopted last week, developers who want to build in downtown Santa Monica must price as much as 30 percent of the units below market-rate. The taller and denser the building, the more affordable housing units there have to be.

City Manager Rick Cole said the goal is to house people who work in the city as well as the children of residents who can’t afford to live where they grew up. Santa Monica’s average monthly rent tops $3,000, buoyed by proximity to the beach and Silicon Beach’s tech jobs.”

Santa Monica formerly required between 15 to 20 precent low income units, and city officials admit the new requirement is controversial and might be a bit of reach. But City manager Rick Cole told KPCC “Santa Monica has led the way in housing policy, from being one of the only cities in Southern California to use rent control, to adopting of one of the country’s toughest regulations on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms.”

In Los Angeles, Measure JJJ, which passed last November, requires developers to allocate between 11 and 25 percent of new rental units for low income tenants. The number varies depending on how they are priced and how close they are to various types of transit.

“A long and thoughtful process with the most intensive public engagement program we’ve ever led got us to this place. The Downtown community is anchored by our shared priorities of historic preservation, public open space, transportation choice, pedestrian-inviting design, and environmental leadership,” said Mayor Ted Winterer in a press statement. “The Plan exemplifies Santa Monica’s commitment to tackling major regional issues of housing availability and affordability and the paradigm shift from car-centric to multi-modal living.”

Los Angeles Times: The Ivy Station development will include an expanded courtyard to serve as a public space for the community. (Killefer Flammang Architects)

Connected to Santa Monica by the increasingly popular Metro Exposition Line, Culver City is poised to provide residents a delightful middle ground between highly urban Los Angeles and expensive Santa Monica.  Culver City officials recently revealed plans for the Ivy Station complex, a $300-million project at the intersections of Venice, Washington and National Boulevards, which will offer apartments, a hotel, an office building, shops, restaurants and underground parking for commuters heading either to downtown Los Angeles or to Santa Monica according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Because it stands midway between those cities where the line terminates, its builders hope Ivy Station will be a Goldilocks housing option for people who find downtown and Santa Monica too intense or too expensive.

“We’re a lower price point for people who don’t want to live in urban downtown,” said developer Tom Wulf, “or folks who work in Santa Monica.”

Wulf is senior vice president of Lowe Enterprises, the Los Angeles real estate company that won a competition held by Culver City officials to build the 500,000-square-foot Ivy Station project on land the city assembled for redevelopment at Venice and National boulevards.”

According to the Times, Culver City spent more than a decade and about $43 million acquiring 39 parcels of land to put together the triangular 5.2-acre site for the Ivy Station project, Community Development Director Sol Blumenfeld told the Times. It should be fascinating to see how the project plays out.

About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, “Larchmont” for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier’s Books.

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