The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has moved forward in an effort to establish a new affordable housing policy in Marina del Rey.

The supervisors voted Tuesday, August 1st, to instruct county agencies to prepare environmental documentation with comments from the public and other interested parties on the proposed Marina del Rey affordable housing policy.

A draft affordable housing policy is aimed at preserving existing affordable housing units in the Marina and creating new affordable housing units in compliance with the Mello Act, as well as balancing the county’s ability to generate revenues for countywide benefit programs, county officials said.

The Mello Act requires that when any low- or moderate- income residential unit is demolished and replaced, it be replaced with another low- or moderate-income unit.

The draft policy seeks to provide direction to developers in determining the number of replacement and new affordable housing units that are to be constructed as part of any new development project within the Marina coastal zone or within three miles of the zone, county officials said.

The county currently has a policy that requires new housing projects in the Marina to make ten percent of units affordable to low-income residents or five percent to very-low-income residents, but there is no existing policy when it comes to replacement housing projects, said David Sommers, press deputy for Supervisor Don Knabe, within whose district the Marina lies.

There are several upcoming replacement housing projects in the Marina and the county needs to have a policy in place to address the need for affordable housing, Sommers said.

“We’re trying to be preemptive to address the affordable housing needs for replacement housing,” he said.

The new policy is intended to address affordable housing for replacement buildings, but at the same time, the county, which owns the land in the Marina, has a “vested interest in maximizing the revenue potential” there, Sommers said.

Revenues generated will be invested in public benefit programs and services throughout the county, he said.

The number of replacement affordable units to be constructed will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but the proposal for new affordable units constructed is five percent for very low-income residents or ten percent for low income, according to the draft policy.

The replacement affordable housing units must be provided on site or within the coastal zone of the Marina where feasible, and if not feasible, then within three miles of the coastal zone.

But some Marina residents claim the new policy does not provide enough affordable housing.

“We think it is just a cheap shot for the public,” said Don Klein of Coalition to Save the Marina.

Andrew Lynch of People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER) said the proposed policy provides half of the requirements under the affordable housing policy of the City of Los Angeles, which requires ten percent of new units to be affordable to very-low-income residents and 20 percent to low-income residents within the coastal zone.

“We think it’s unacceptable,” Lynch said of the proposed policy. “It doesn’t promote enough affordable housing.

“We see it as an opportunity for the county to take a bite out of affordable housing.”

Lynch said the policy should propose a “like-for-like” replacement, meaning that whatever type of affordable unit is torn down should be replaced with the same type of unit.

Helen Garrett, a Marina resident who lives in low-income housing, agreed, saying the new policy is a “step backward” in fulfilling affordable housing needs in the community.

“We need to replace it with like-for-like,” Garrett said. “There’s not enough new affordable housing being provided.”

Sommers said the public will have “ample opportunity” to offer input on the Marina affordable housing policy before the Board of Supervisors votes to approve the plan.

The board is expected to consider the proposal within 90 days, after community members have offered input at public hearings.