The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved a revised affordable housing policy for Marina del Rey that includes requirements for very-low-income tenants.

The supervisors voted Tuesday, November 18th, to approve an amended housing policy requiring that all new developments designate 15 percent of total units as affordable, setting aside five percent each for moderate-, low- and very-low-income tenants. Affordable units that are demolished or converted in the Marina will be replaced on a “one-for-one” basis on-site where feasible, according to the policy.

The units will remain affordable for the life of the project and qualifying displaced tenants will be put on a priority wait list for replacement units, the policy states.

Representatives of the People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), a group that pushed for the very-low-income requirement, said the housing policy is expected to produce about 200 affordable units in the Marina over the next two years.

Group members praised the amended policy after expressing opposition to the original proposal, which they claimed failed to fulfill low-income housing needs.

“Don’t think the supervisors woke up yesterday morning and realized the county needed more affordable housing,” said Helen Garrett, a Marina del Rey resident and a member of POWER, People Organized for Westside Renewal. “Our community put the pressure on and never stopped fighting. This victory shows you what a group of organized people can do.”

POWER members said they worked closely with attorneys from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Western Center on Law and Poverty in the development of the new policy.

County officials said the Marina affordable housing policy is aimed at preserving existing affordable housing units and creating new affordable units in compliance with the Mello Act, as well as balancing the county’s ability to generate revenues for public programs throughout the county. The Mello Act requires that when any low- or moderate-income residential unit is demolished and replaced within the coastal zone, the unit be replaced with another low-or moderate-income unit.

The revised housing policy requirements are expected to be applied to four Marina redevelopment projects, including the Villa Venetia/Lyon Capital at the end of Fiji Way; the Neptune Marina/Legacy Partners on Marquesas Way; the Waterfront at the site of the former Harbor House restaurant on Admiralty Way; and the Pashai/Marina West Shopping Center on Washington Boulevard.

County officials project that the four projects will provide approximately $70.3 million in affordable housing rent credits.

In addition to adopting the revised housing policy November 18th, the Board of Supervisors approved a settlement agreement with the People Organized for Westside Renewal.

Among the requirements of the agreement are that the county consult with the group on guidelines for policy implementation and provide written notice of any hearings related to residential development projects.

POWER, in return, has agreed to drop any potential legal challenges to the policy, provided that it complies with the housing requirements.

While affordable housing activists lauded the Marina policy, they noted that efforts need to continue to address housing needs throughout the city.

“We’re in a housing crisis all over Los Angeles and people need to wake up and realize that affordable housing isn’t going to build itself,” said Pat Philips, who lives in affordable housing in Marina del Rey. “The new policy is a huge step forward, but there is still much more work to be done.”

Affordable housing activists said they hope the policy for the Marina can be used as a model for a similar plan in Los Angeles.

“First stop county, next stop city,” said Jataun Valentine, a POWER member who lives in Venice. “We’re going to use the momentum from this victory to fight for and win a city-wide affordable housing policy.”

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