Santa Monica City Councilman

This year, 2009, is our year to get more serious about preserving existing, occupied affordable housing in Santa Monica. In tough times, we can work together to make sure more of our neighbors don’t suffer eviction.

Let’s make sure the new Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), likely to be adopted this year, includes meaningful protection for the stable, long-term Santa Monica renters who depend on existing apartments.

[Editor’s note: Santa Monica’s Land Use and Circulation Element Strategy Framework is described as the first step in updating the city’s General Plan.]

While LUCE reshapes a selected six percent of the cityscape, our residential neighborhoods remain at risk. Developers could continue to profit by demolishing apartments in residential neighborhoods to build oversize luxury condos.

That’s why I’ve already made the proposal that we reduce the allowable massing of new market-rate multifamily housing in existing neighborhoods.

I first brought that up at a City Council meeting last spring, and reiterated it in July. As we begin 2009, I bring it up again.

Less massing means better neighborhood compatibility, and less overshadowing of existing housing by huge new condos. New units are likely to be smaller in square footage for more affordable and sustainable living. Sensible sizing could also reduce the economic incentive to demolish existing affordable housing.

Current economic woes may slow demolitions and development in the short term, but let’s remember that the new LUCE is a 20-year plan. This is our chance to protect our neighbors, our neighborhoods, and the city we love.