Political Outlook for 2023

Getting past a bad faith Council

Protect Culver City was founded in July 2019 in response to Council passing rent control.  It wasn’t that they passed rent control, but how they passed it, that was cause for concern.  An issue nobody ran on, with no discussion, passed in the dead of night, over some unfounded pretext of an epidemic of evictions and gouging.  Based on this, we knew rent control would not be our only or even primary issue.  We need to take on the housing debate, and a bad faith council in general, if we were going to turn around this city.  Since then, we’ve been involved in the following issues:

  • Defending our police department – both their reputation and budget
  • Raising the public safety and health issue of homeless camps
  • Educating voters on Council’s upzoning plans
  • Keeping an honest debate on housing affordability, and questioning the effectiveness of rent control
  • Keeping voters aware of other issues that come up, such as the SEIU pay increase

In the 3.5 years since, our efforts have been more than vindicated.  For the first time, we have a majority on our Council that will listen to us.  But the bad faith elements remain – yes in the Council minority, but more so in their supporters.  Here’s what we’re seeing and where we’re going as a city.

The New Council: promises made, promises kept

The new council was sworn in December 12th and wasted no time getting to work undoing the damage of the previous council.  They immediately convened a special council meeting on the 21st to discuss an anti-camping ordinance for Culver City, mirroring the ordinances at Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles.  Staff has been instructed to draft this ordinance to be voted on January 23rd meeting, and will be implemented sometime in late February.  This will coincide with Los Angeles’s emergency declaration on homelessness, and will serve to ensure transients don’t simply cross city lines to find a more lenient place to live.

Council has promised a few things about any prohibition on camping in Culver City:

  1. Nobody will be arrested or cited for being homeless.
  2. Nobody will be forced to move unless we have shelter available for them.
  3. This ordinance is slated to go into effect at the same time our Homekey hotels go online, promising plenty of available beds for anybody who needs it.

There are some exceptions to these promises.  Camping in Culver City parks has always been illegal.  Those who try to camp here will always be moved out, regardless of other conditions.  The city also reserves the right for “sweeps”: in this case, getting street campers to pick up their belongings, temporarily, while the city “sweeps” the sidewalk.  This fulfills a basic duty of sanitation for campers and residents alike.  Once sanitation workers have completed their duties, the campers are free to return.

This fulfills the legal requirement of Martin vs. Boise – that no anti-camping ordinance shall be enforced if the city doesn’t have a place to send people.  And that’s the issue we pushed during our campaign: “if we have some where to send them, but they don’t want to go, can we compel them?”  Council has even gone a step beyond the basic requirement of shelter.  Our shelters are actually better understood as “navigation centers” – temporary spots for people as we figure out permanent housing for them.

We go well above and beyond Martin v Boise requirements because it’s such a contentious issue, with dark money lawfare firms ready to sue the city at the slightest opportunity.  Meanwhile, activists answer the above question with a resounding “NO, WE CANNOT.”  They envision a purely voluntary method for getting people into shelter and housing.  If they don’t want to move, we can’t touch them.  This philosophy got us to where we are today.

These activists constitute two of our councilmembers – Freddy Puza and Yasmine Imani-Mcmorrin, as well as several commissioners like Stephen Jones and Nancy Barba.

It would be one thing if we could have a good faith philosophical disagreement about how to handle homelessness and street camping.  Unfortunately, activists are being deceptive about the whole debate.  They make out “sweeps” to be some kind of mass arrest, envisioning stormtroopers descending on a camp at 4am and marching people off to concentration camps in Palmdale.

This is ludicrous, and Councilmembers have said none of this is happening.  But activists make this accusation as a dodgy attempt to get a promise from Council that they will do no sweeps.  But rest assured – when they say “sweeps”, they mean exactly what we mean.  They are trying to push councilmembers to agree to never touch a camp unless the occupants willingly move. 

Transient Camps, Homelessness, and Housing Affordability

Behind this voluntary philosophy on our camps is the basic contention that housing is unaffordable.  Fix affordability, and our transient camps will go away.  Without that, there’s nothing we can do about them.

On the surface, they have a point.  The new developments Council has approved go for multiple times what historic multifamily units go for.  We called attention to this during our Measure B campaign “which way, Culver City?”  We pointed out in 2020 that a typical multifamily 2br went for $2000, while a new development “stack n pack” 2br went for $4500+.  This latter number continues to skyrocket, dragging multifamily rents along with it.  Meanwhile, Council’s “affordable” unit stipulations and overlay provide a questionable amount of housing to offset this.

Councilmember Puza said on the dais that rent control helped stop homelessness.  This was a disingenuous argument.  The homeless we see in Culver City are not locals driven out by rising rents.  The debate on the transients we do have is whether they can be indoors at all.  The housing and shelters we provide must come with wraparound services which include addiction treatment.

Meanwhile, Council’s rent control plans were a solution looking for a problem – and are punitive towards multifamily owners.  The more conspiratorially minded would think that it was designed to drive older multifamily properties off the market, leaving only newer developments to rent from. 

Whether the intention is there or not, we believe that punitive measures on our most affordable housing will only make the problem worse.  Meanwhile we’d like to work with Council to come up with better solutions to offer everyone a chance to live in our city at an affordable rate.  Our rent control administration comes at a cost of $1.5 million a year.  This money could be much better spent expanding our Section 8 program or offering other means testing methods to offer affordable housing. 

But multifamily housing needs to be protected and nourished as the last affordable housing at the scale we need.

Police, Zoning, SEIU – the common factor

Let’s clarify right away.  Each one of these issues was a separate campaign for us, with its own budget.  Lumping them together does not make them any less important.  In fact we quickly found our Defend Don’t Defund CCPD campaign of the 2020 season quickly eclipsed our Measure B campaign.  This campaign gave shape to our opposition.  Nearly 80% of Culver City residents may support CCPD – but they quickly found that making their support public earned the fury of the activists.  We had so many signs stolen we wound up on the evening news.  The Knock LA blog wrote the hitpiece on us, saying we ran a racist intimidation campaign – when the only vandalism was against us.

But they attacked us because we were effective.  This campaign punctured the halo of the progressives.  For the first time, voters realized voting for them could cause real permanent damage to our city.  We believe this campaign helped turn things around and set the stage for 2022. 

The zoning issue was a bit more complicated for us.  Since most of us are multifamily owners, ending single family zoning didn’t hit us as personally as it did homeowners.  But again, it’s how Council approached this debate that raised the alarm.  They put in the minimum outreach they could get away with.  They used loaded words to claim anyone who opposed eliminating single family was a racist throwback to a segregated Culver City. 

We did our best to get out accurate information to residents.  But we were happy to take a back seat to emergent city groups like Culver City Neighbors United.  Not just because it took the burden off of us.  But it was a sign more residents were waking up to the bad faith tactics of the Council majority.  That allowed everyone to work in parallel to flip that third seat away from the activist slate.  

Not to be outdone, the SEIU has been pushing all last year to get a pay increase for their workers at Brotman Hospital through Council fiat.  They’re couching this in a “minimum wage for health care workers” – which would go slightly beyond them.  But considering Brotman is the only hospital in town, it basically hits their employees the most. 

SEIU has spent over $400,000 in PAC money on this goal – and that’s only until June of this year.  This figure alone already matches everything Hackman spent on the election, and they’re continuing to spend money to bully our current city council to pass this law.  While our activist friends have sounded the alarm about Hackman’s money, they have been completely silent about this.

The exiting council passed this law while the incoming council waited to be inaugurated – an unprecedented move.  Once the new council took the dais, they reversed the decision, saying it’s not Council’s position to declare wages in this city, that SEIU needs to do collective bargaining to get the wages they want for their workers.  Council also did this to avoid another lawsuit from the hospital.

We’re already seeing deceptive mailers from SEIU asking people to bully the new council into passing their law.  They mailer claims the new council “cut their pay.”  Nobody’s pay was cut.  Council reversed a decision that never went into effect. 

Again, this shows the deeper issue in our city.  Working in the interests of residents may seem like a no-brainer – but it also gets the opposition of some powerful and well-funded outside interests.   

Activists?  Progressives?  Who are they, and what do we call them?

Ultimately these activists reflect a tiny minority of people who actually live in this city.  Though they come with a lot of outside support from unions and dark money nonprofits.  We see the same fifteen residents at meeting after meeting, loudly claiming to represent the city, even though people are becoming increasingly aware of them – and tired of them.

They call themselves “progressives” – saying they represent progress, while anyone who opposes them is some Bull Connor 50s reactionary throwback.  But where are they progressing toward?  A city where people are locked down in secured stack-n-pack developments, terrified of streets teeming in anarchy?  Needless to say, we disagree with this progress.  An urban environment means public spaces that work for everyone.  Public spaces require public safety.  We have a fundamental right to be secure in one’s home and person – regardless of living conditions.  The barbaric conditions we see in our transient camps is unfit for anyone.

In that sense, this isn’t a division of “progressive” vs. “conservative” – and people do themselves a disservice by drawing the line that way.  Plenty of progressives in Culver City are aligning with us on this issue.  People only drive them away with this talk.

“Activist” seems a more fitting term, because it’s what they are.  We can never compete with them for devotion to a cause.  Most of us have family and jobs that keep us very occupied.  They can show up to 4pm rallies, noon council meetings in Los Angeles, and all night to spend talking on all agenda items.  But that also has its shortcomings.  The more involved we become, the more we too become activists. 

“Meghanites” has also been floated around as a cute term, as they all seem to stem from Meghan Sahli-Wells’ organizing efforts from the past ten years or so.  That too has its shortcomings, not least because it’s an ad hominem.  But also because they come with strong support from outside the city.  For example, the first speaker at Council’s meeting on an anti-camping ordinance was a Holly Mitchell representative, speaking against the ordinance.  What does that tell us about our future relations with the County?  Especially considering we depend on County Prop H money to fund our housing and shelters?

Whatever we decide to call them, we must understand who they are.  And why seemingly popular issues, like defending our police department or cleaning out our homeless camps, are so hard to fight for.  Really, the fight here is between councilmembers who fight for the residents, and those who capitulate to outside interests. 

Conclusions – looking to 2024

If there’s one lesson to be learned from our experience, it’s this – you have to fight for the things you care about.  Our police, our parks, and the overall character of our city may be immensely popular.  But we will still be attacked for defending them – and not just by people in our city. 

Plenty of outside activists, from unions to dark money nonprofits, to university academics, see Culver City as their Petri dish for their pet programs.  The new council majority gives us the opportunity to solve problems created by activists.  But they won’t take this lying down – they will continue to pressure Council and residents to surrender to their demands, by any means necessary.  This new council majority needs our help, and we must continue to fight and support them.

We also must look forward to the 2024 election season, where Albert Vera is up for re-election and two other seats are up for grabs.    

The best way to support them, and prepare for the 2024 election, is by simply speaking the truth – loud and clear, to as many voting residents as possible. 

Debate regarding the new Council inauguration

We figured the old Fisch/Lee Council would not go down peacefully, and they did not disappoint. The inauguration of a new Council is usually a purely formal affair – the first item is the old Council stepping down. Instead, they forced new Councilmembers Dan O’Brien and Freddy Puza to wait while they debated and passed the highly controversial SEIU pay raise. Once the new Council was seated, they reversed it.

Predictably, the usual activists ran with it, calling the new Council majority a bunch of grinches. But the real scandal was the Council that would not leave. Darrel Menthe wrote in to the CC Crossroads bringing up the “unprecedented” nature of this. Former Mayor Steve Gourley wrote the following response – which we are publishing with his permisson.

Mr. Darrell Menthe states in his letter to the editor of Culver City Crossroads that “something extraordinary” happened at the December 12, 2022 swearing in of the new council members: the newly elected members had to wait 2 hours until the old members had finished “old business.” 

I can understand that Mr. Menthe has limited knowledge of the City and its history.  When I was sworn in as a councilman in April, 1988, Dr. Jim Boulgarides, who had also been newly elected, and I had to wait AT LEAST an hour before the councilmembers we had defeated in the election, stepped down.  All of our supporters who filled the tiny city hall had to wait, too. 

Richard Brundo and Paul Netzel took turns excoriating both of us AND the VOTERS for turning them out of office.  Brundo and Netzel also swore that each would run again in the next election and beat us.   They did not run in the next election or any election after 1988. In fact, Netzel moved out of Culver City before two elections (4 years) had passed. 

I agree with Mr. Menthe that it was just plain bad manners for the excouncilmen Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch to hold up the swearing in of the new councilman, but it was nothing new or “extraordinary.”  As a result of the actions of Mr. Brundo and Mr. Netzel in April 1988, I never attended a swearing in where I was not being sworn in myself.  Both with the City Council and the School Board, I stepped down the week before and said my goodbyes and thank yous the week before the swearing in of the new Council and Board.

It seemed like the right thing to do.   

Steve Gourley

2022 election issues and recommendations

Download our flyer!

We want:

  • A hands-on approach to homelessness.  We need to enforce a time/place/manner for transient camps – much like Santa Monica does successfully
  • Our police department to have the tools they need to enforce our laws, and a Council that oversees them honestly.
  • Honest discussions about upzoning and the cost of housing
  • A transparent Council and an unpoliticized School Board

Our Council Recommendations

Dan O’Brien danobrien4culvercity.com – Dan has been a community leader in Culver City for 20 years. He steadfastly promotes a hands-on approach to transient camps, much like Santa Monica does successfully.

Denice Renteria renteriaforculvercity.com – Denice brings fresh insight as well as a steadfast commitment to the basics of city management – enforcing our laws, keeping our streets safe and clean, and keeping the city safe for everyone.

Both Dan and Denice come with the endorsements of Councilmembers Albert Vera and Goran Eriksson.

Why we DON’T recommend Fisch or Puza

Alex Fisch – came in under false pretenses as an economic moderate.  Since then he’s passed rent control (which he originally said didn’t work), has hobbled our police department (though he didn’t vote to defund), pushed a hands-off policy on transient camps, and has been the prime pusher of upzoning.  All the residents who backed his initial run are now organizing against him.

Freddy Puza – would be a continuation of Daniel Lee’s radical policies.  Defunding our police, a hands off policy on camps, and all the other radical and costly measures Lee has promoted while in office.

There are other candidates.  But we don’t believe they have the resources to gain a significant number of votes.  Our focus is to change existing policies that are ruining our city.  Therefore a vote for Dan or Dencie is the best way to keep Fisch or Puza from getting elected. 


Measure VY (Vote 16)  – NO.  Giving a vote to Culver High school students, regardless of their residence, would place undue influence in the school board over our Council.  The school board has been nakedly partisan in recent years.  Giving high school students the right to vote would give the school board a captive audience to harvest their ballots, and provide them a permanent voting bloc for their preferred council candidates.

Measure BL (Business Tax) – NO.  Our downtown businesses are struggling enough after the Covid pandemic and lane shutdowns.  Doubling/tripling their tax when they’re hurting would further erode our commercial districts.

School Board recommendations

We would like to stay focused on Council issues, and not be involved in the school board election.  Unfortunately, the school board has been too involved in Council matters, using students to their ends. 

We’ve seen our Defend Don’t Defund signs stolen by kids, and Eriksson’s house was vandalized in a student Defund the Police rally at his house.  School board members have not condemned or denied involvement any of this.  School board member Kelly Kent did have to publicly apologize for using school board resources to promote a Women’s March. 

This needs to end.

We are not concerned with curriculum.  We only want a school board that doesn’t try to put their thumb on the scale of Council matters, and doesn’t manipulate students to their political objectives.   Based on this, we feel these three candidates provide the best chance to change course

Other City/County race recommendations

As you may know, the homelessness issue is far greater than Culver City.  As such, even electing a friendly council will not solve our problems.  We will need to work with neighboring cities and the county to develop a proper, hands-on approach to get transients the services they need while maintaining public safety.
At the core is a profound philosophical disagreement: hands on vs. hands off.
That being said, we’re adding our voice to the following races.

Ballona Creek camp fires – why isn’t the city doing anything?

Fire crews put out a blazing transient camp at Ballona/Overland overpass July 26, 2022.

At least six fires have erupted in camps along Ballona creek in Culver City this year – two in the last month.  A camp persists at the footbridge, less than 250 feet from Farragut Elementary.  Residents complain to the city about the obvious public safety issued, especially for children walking to school.  And yet the city does nothing.  We’re asking “why?” as Culver City readies to elect two new councilmembers in November.  We’ve sent a questionnaire to candidates and councilmembers for their opinions on this issue.

Residents will have a distinct choice between candidates who want to maintain this “hands off” policy, versus those who think they present a public safety issue that must be immediately addressed.

Hands On:

Dan O’Brien: “I believe the vast majority of our residents want our leaders to enact an ordinance similar to Los Angeles MC 41.18, while tirelessly seeking safe and secure housing for those in need. This is not an either/or equation. We can show compassion to both the unhoused AND those who own and rent in Culver City.”

Denice Renteria: “Doing nothing and letting individuals remain on the street is inhumane and unfair… I would also be in support of the city conducting regular routine checks in more vulnerable areas of the city and public open spaces. We need to uphold the safety of all individuals in the city, unhoused or not.”

Hands Off:

Councilman/candidate Alex Fisch: “the evidence is overwhelming that homelessness is a housing problem… I am open to hearing other cost-effective, humane, and just opportunities to say “yes, this is where you can be” instead of … “no, you can’t be here, not there either.”

Freddy Puza: “Studies consistently show that homelessness is overwhelmingly caused by lack of affordable housing… Criminalizing poverty is not only inhumane, it is much more expensive than providing housing and support.”


Khin Khin Gyi: “We could pass an ordinance similar to that voted on by the City of LA whereby the encampments must be a certain distance away from schools, nursing homes, places of worship or businesses, etc.”

What the Councilmembers Say

We also sent our questionnaire to the councilmembers, for clarification on hands on/hands off and what they mean by sweeps. Councilmembers Eriksson and Vera weighed in (Lee and McMorrin did not respond):

Vice-Mayor Albert Vera: “[Sweeps] should consist of advance posting by the city so that the unhoused are aware of what is happening and have the opportunity to move any of their possessions. The city would then come in with a team to clean up any dangerous items – syringes, urine, fecal matter, etc. – and pressure wash the sidewalks. Once that process is complete, the unhoused would be free to move back into the area.”

Councilman Goran Eriksson: “Culver City belongs to a very, very small group of cities in LA County that have adopted a “hands off approach” when it comes to some form of enforcement to assist our housing/mental outreach… When we talk about “encampment sweeps”, they are very often necessary.”

Martin v Boise, LAMC 41.18, and why the encampments issue is so complicated

Culver City is not alone with encampment problems – we see them all over LA.  This is due to the Martin vs. Boise decision, which established a simple rule – we can’t “punish” someone for a “state of being.”  Meaning if someone is homeless and they have “nowhere to go”, we can’t fine or imprison them for sitting somewhere.  But this ruling gives a lot of latitude in interpretation.  For example –

if a city can offer shelter, and they don’t want to go, can we compel them to leave?

Once a city has shelter or housing to offer a transient, this ruling is rendered void because the person now has a choice.  Yet professional activists have been pushing the idea we cannot, unless the transient willingly accepts.  They’ve pressured councils and candidates to adopt such a “hands off” policy with camps.  This started in Culver City in 2019, when an LA Times article on the Venice/405 camp prompted the Sahli-Wells led council to end police interactions with the camp.  Council further codified this “hands off” policy at their April 26, 2021 meeting.  It got the predicted “yes” votes from Lee, Fisch, and McMorrin and Lee, while Eriksson and Vera voted “no”.

The Culver City Democratic Club has also taken on the activist perspective on transient camps.  They issued an endorsement questionnaire which inluded two key questions about camps: LAMC41.18 limiting camps near schools, and opinion of encampment sweeps.  Dan O’Brien is not included because he wasn’t registered Democrat at the time.

Two key questions from the CCDC questionnaire regarding camp cleanups, and how Democrat-registered candidates responded.

LAMC 41.18- what is it?

Cities have worked around Martin v. Boise with a simple policy – offer shelter, and pass no camping ordinances.  Santa Monica has successfully enforced a no camping ordinance for many years, while our current Council has refused to discuss it.  Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles is pushing a more lenient rule – no camping within 500 feet of schools and other sensitive locations.  While this makes sense to average residents, activists rioted at city hall over this.  Meanwhile the Culver City Democratic Club based their endorsement on opposing 41.18.  Both Alex Fisch and Freddy Puza opposed such an ordinance.  Dan O’Brien has expressly supported such an ordinance.

Sweeps, what are they?

Washington Blvd underpass “sweep” – camp was given a one week notice. Nobody was visibly living at the camp. Appeared to simply be bike storage.

Encampment Sweeps are another seemingly benign rule.  The city wants to do basic sanitation over a section of sidewalk occupied by a camp – literally “sweep” the sidewalk.  They post notice letting transients know to pack their belongings and vacate the space while they clean, then they come in and clean up, and once they’re done people are welcome to bring their camp back.

Activists have managed to portray it as some horrific atrocity – Stormtroopers raid an unsuspecting camp at 4am and sweep the homeless away to concentration camps!  They’ve been successful enough at this to fool most people and many candidates on this issue.  Again, in the CCDC questionnaire, Fisch and Puza opposed sweeps, while Renteria and Gyi were undecided.  O’Brien also said he was undecided, saying it’s “not a simple answer”.

The problem with opposing sweeps is this means the city will not touch transient camps, ever.  Electing people to Council who oppose sweeps means the city will keep this “hands-off” approach, which will allow these camps to fester and grow.

“Services not Sweeps”  – a defining issue in 2022

The proliferation of transient camps is a prime issue for Angelenos this election year.  Despite voting for services and funding to the homeless, these camps seem to keep spreading with no end in sight.  Why isn’t the city doing anything about them?  What can we do about them? 

We’ve heard several causes – lack of affordable housing, Martin vs Boise, mental health issues, drugs, etc.  But the heart of the issue can be distilled to a very simple policy soundbite: “Services not Sweeps.”  The very term is a euphemism and misnomer.  Angelenos overwhelmingly agree that the city should have services ready for anyone who needs them.  We passed Props H and HHH, which provides billions to this enterprise.  The services are there.

But behind that is the basic legal question:

If we have somewhere to send a transient, but they don’t want to move, can we compel them?  Or are we stuck with them, wherever they decide to homestead, until they voluntarily leave?

That’s the key part of the phrase – “not sweeps.”  The idea is cleaning up transient camps – “sweeps” – cause trauma by uprooting transients and keeping them on the move.  Therefore, we should not compel them to move.  Needless to say, this policy means allowing transient camps to permanently fester and metastasize.  People know what this means.  Festering drug dens, disease, crime, as camps continue to rot with no sanitation. 

Yet a surprising number of officials and candidates subscribe to this policy.  In fact “services not sweeps” is the default progressive position, as with professional activist group Democratic Socialists of America. 

Fortunately, many candidates for 2022 have stepped forward arguing against this.  This gives us an opportunity to defeat candidates who would force us to live with permanent transient camps in 2023 and on.

Professional activists have been fighting with residents on this issue for the past few years.  An example is “how many times can someone refuse services before we can finally compel them?”  Their answer is never. 

Another trick they use is claiming that the city has fewer beds than counted homeless.  Therefore, since we don’t have enough beds to house every homeless person in the city, we cannot enforce any cleanups.  But if the vast majority of beds lays empty, and the vast majority of transients don’t want to go into a shelter, then building more beds doesn’t fix the problem. 

Culver City will see Alex Fisch and Daniel Lee’s seats go up for re-election this year. At the recent Culver City Democratic Club forum, both Alex Fisch and Freddy Puza have come out against encampment sweeps. Denice Renteria was the only candidate at that forum not to oppose them flat-out. Dan O’Brien also supports a no-camping ordinance throughout the city, once the city purchases the hotels as shelters.

This issue is intentionally loaded, with legal ramifications for supporting sweeps . We will get clarification from all candidates on where they stand and the implications of their position – namely with regards to the persistent camp at the Senior Center.

We’re also seeing several races at the city, county and state level that will decide this issue.  Here’s our analysis on them and whether the candidates are for or against “services not sweeps.”  Again, being for “services not sweeps” means they don’t think we can compel transients to move.  Being against it means they think we can and should.

LA city Mayor: Karen Bass for, Rick Caruso against

LA city council 11:  Erin Darling for, Traci Park against

LA city council 13: Hugo Soto-Martinez for, Mitch O’Farrell against (this is Echo Park Lake, which O’Farrell cleaned up to the vocal opposition of activists)

LA County Sheriff: Alex Villanueva (incumbent) against, Robert Luna for.  Villanueva has been instrumental in keeping Venice Boardwalk clear of camps.

Assembly District 55: Isaac Bryan for, Keith Cascio against

Senate District 28: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas for, Cheryl Turner against (ACLU put out a legally dubious mailer in support of Cuevas on this precise issue, claiming sweeps “result in the disproportionate policing of transgender women of color”)

Congressional District 37: Sydney Kamlager for, Jan Perry against

Practically all these races are highly competitive.  We also expect the primary results to be skewed to the left, as the Democrat Socialists of America spent an aggressive effort to get out the vote for their candidates.  The primary had very low turnout overall, so these kinds of efforts can have a disproportionate effect.

Upzoning Culver City

Concerned about Upzoning?
Wondering what you can do?

Special meeting May 25th 7th
via Zoom / location TBA
Contact Us for RSVP and meeting link

Everything you need to know about Council’s Housing Element and its plans to upzone Culver City out of single family homes

  • Incremental Infill – four units per single family lot?
  • Affordable Housing Overlay – relaxing building codes
  • SB9 lot splitting – up to eight units per lot?
  • SB10 – up to ten units per lot?
  • 3-2 Council split? Who’s for it? Who’s against it?

Over the past year or two, Culver City Council has been busy preparing and submitting its proposed housing element to the State of California’s Housing and Community Development department.  This housing element will guide Culver City’s building codes for the rest of the decade.  This process has been fraught with confusion, with residents generally having no idea what this means for their homes and neighborhoods.  We will break this down for people.

Incremental Infill

At the core of Council’s plans include what is called Incremental Infill this is a legal term meaning up to three units can be built on a standard lot in the city.  A fourth unit can be built if it meets the criteria of “affordable” – those criteria have yet to be defined. 

Council had several options prepared by staff about how much of the city would qualify for this “incremental infill.”  In the interests of “equity,” they decided the entire city would qualify for this classification.  This includes many controversial areas like the Upper Crest which are not suitable for multiunit development.

Affordable Housing Overlay

At their meeting April 26th, 2022, the Council voted 3-2 to also adopt an “affordable housing overlay.”  This would relax many of our city’s zoning regulations, such as parking requirements, floor area allowances, setback requirements, etc., provided they make certain units “affordable.” Again, we’ve yet to see concrete policies on what is considered affordable, how much of a development would be affordable, or the zoning requirements abandoned to allow this. 

An illustration of “Incremental Infill” without SB9 lot splitting. Affordable Housing Overlay could further tighten setbacks from the property line as well as remove parking requirements.

SB9 Lot Splitting provision – what does it mean?

Sacramento recently passed SB9 which allows cities to split all single family lots into two, and allow a duplex to be built on each of the two lots.  This already bypasses the city’s plan and would allow up to four units on  a lot.  The issue is how that mixes with Council’s current incremental infill proposal.  At their April 25th meeting, Council debated what this would mean – would they allow a fourplex on each of the two lots, allowing up to eight units?  In the end, they decided not to clarify on the policy.  Nor did they answer our requests for clarification on this issue.  Councilman Daniel Lee did claim the possibility for up to eight units on a lot, in a previous meeting.

SB10 – up to ten units in “job/transit rich” neighborhoods

Sacramento also passed SB10 last year, which would allow up to TEN units to be built on a single family lot in neighborhoods the state deems job or transit rich.  You may guess about 90% of Culver City falls under this classification, given our central city location.  Council has not yet deliberated on this law and how they would adopt it.  But Culver City for More Homes, an activist group with ties to three of the Councilmembers, has written a law to the state HCD rep requesting to have Culver City abide by this law.

Who’s for this?  Who’s against it?

Council has consistently voted 3-2 for Incremental Infill, the Affordable Housing Overlay, and all the other subsequent issues regarding upzoning Culver City.  The three councilmembers voting for it are Alex Fisch, Daniel Lee, and Yasmine Imani-McMorrin.  The two councilmembers consistently voting against this are Goran Eriksson and Albert Vera. 

This has been the source of bitter division in the Council chambers.  Eriksson and Vera have both written letters to the state claiming a lack of any engagement with residents about these upzoning plans – a clear requirement of the Housing Element process.  Our PAC has also consistently pointed out the lack of resident engagement in this process – even a denial by Councilmembers of their upzoning intention.  You may have seen our door hangers and signs around the city as well.

Two of the Councilmembers – Alex Fisch and Daniel Lee – are seeing their terms end in November.  So far, neither has stated their intentions to run for re-election.  Daniel Lee is currently running for Congress, an indication he’s not looking for another term on the Council.

Residents who are opposed to these upzoning plans have already rallied behind two potential candidates – Dan O’Brien and Denice Renteria.  They both come with the support of Councilmembers Vera and Eriksson.  Many of Fisch and Lee’s original supporters in 2018 have abandoned them because of their stance on upzoning and are now supporting O’Brien and Renteria for Council instead.

Our position at Protect Culver City has always been that the residents need to be engaged in this process, and that Council’s decisions need to reflect the will of the residents.  We’ve written the state ourselves, asking to delay certification of our Housing Element until a new Council is elected in November.  A Housing Element reflecting the new Council would have a much stronger mandate than this one.

ACTION ALERT – Council to close Washington Blvd/405 sidewalks to pedestrians

Council meeting Monday, March 28th 7pm
Council to shut down sidewalk on Washington Blvd/405 Fwy
Forcing pedestrians to walk in parking lane


Due to the transients persistently blocking the sidewalk under the 405 at Washington Blvd, our Council majority has come up with their latest scheme.  Consent Item C-7 in Monday’s council meeting will approve shutting down the sidewalk, leaving it as the domain of a pemanent tranient camp.  Instead they will shut down the parking lane, put up dividers, and force pedestrians to walk in the parking lane instead.  This plan will cost the city $100,000.
We won’t even begin to discuss the issues with this unprecedented, likely illegal concept. 
We just want you to know about this and MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.
The underpasses need to be kept clear and open to pedestrians.  This is a no brainer.  Council wants a walkable city – this does just the opposite. 

Council meetings are still online only. 
We know a lot of you have issues getting in.  Try one of these alternatives:

E-mail the five councilmembers and the city attorney.  Ask about the legality of this – this isn’t just extending parklets to existing businesses.  This creates a whole new class of homesteaders and is explicitly against city code:

Alex Fisch alex.fisch@culvercity.org
Daniel Lee daniel.lee@culvercity.org
Goran Eriksson goran.eriksson@culvercity.org
Albert Vera albert.vera@culvercity.org
Yasmine Imani-McMorrin yasmine-imani.mcmorrin@culvercity.org
Heather Baker heather.baker@culvercity.org
City Clerk city.clerk@culvercity.org

You can also call the city clerk and submit your comments by phone: 310-253-5851

Newsom survives recall, SB9 and SB10 pass

What does this mean for Culver City?

As of this writing, Newsom has comfortably beaten back recall efforts 38-62%, with 93% of precincts reporting. Shortly after he was announced the winner, he passed SB9 and SB10, both which effectively eliminate single family neighborhoods throughout California. SB9 allows developers to build up to four units on any lot. SB10 allows developers to build up to ten units on any lot in any area deemed “job/transit rich”.

“Job/transit rich” describes about 80% of Culver City. This really makes us ground zero for massive zoning changes. This is the backdrop under which Council submitted their Draft Housing Element to the state for approval, which allows “incremental infill” in the entire city. “Incremental infill” is somewhat of a euphemism, which means any single family lot is eligible to develop up to four condos. There’s nothing incremental about it.

So what can be done?

The first thing is to submit comments about the Draft Housing Element – the link will take you to a comments form. We need to turn in our comments by October 1st. Shawn Danino is the representative who’ll be reviewing this document, we can e-mail him our concerns at Shawn.Danino@HCD.CA.gov as well as HousingElements@hcd.ca.gov. and forward your e-mail to us.

The thing to understand, though, is that with the passage of SB9 and SB10, we are effectively only meeting state law. To really protect the character of Culver City, we need to work with entities who are trying to roll that back.

Californians for Community Planning is organizing a ballot initiative that would repeal these laws. We suggest getting in contact with them to see how we can be involved. Locally, Culver City Neighbors United is also looking at options. They have some very clear instructions on how to send a letter to the state opposing our Housing Element.

Again, our main concern with Council’s Housing Element is nobody in our city knows this is happening. The Draft Housing Element itself is incomprehensible – to a point. Council is sneaking some radical changes under the radar.

Telling the state that you were never properly notified or engaged sends a powerful message about the lack of legitimacy to the process.

Upzoning issue – where we’re at

Council has instructed the General Plan Advisory Committee to study the plan to eliminate R1 zoning across Culver City. This means that our current regulations on single family homes and curtilage would go out the window. If these plans succeed, developers would be able to demolish any home, anywhere in the city, and replace it with a fourplex which reaches almost to the property line.

It’s not hard to visualize this. Simply look at what’s being built in our adjoining neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

So what can be done?

First is to keep your eyes on this page. We will let you know about upcoming events and action alerts.

You should also make your opinions known to City Council. You can find their contact info on the City Council page.

We are also keeping tabs on Culver City Neighbors United and their efforts to stop this upzoning. We recommend people get in touch with them.

We currently see two ways to stop this – a ballot initiative requiring voter approval of zoning changes, and getting new Councilmembers elected in 2022.

Council to open Jackson Gate?


Monday August 23rd, 5:30pm via Zoom

Council to debate opening Jackson Gate to Ballona Creek


Download our distributable flyer

Jackson gate opens up Ballona Creek to the heart of Carlson Park. Opening this gate has been a wildly opposed by local residents, and they’ve fought this for years. With the recent spread of transient camps along Ballona Creek, the public safety issue of opening this gate has gotten even worse. This coming Monday, Council will debate opening this gate again. They may either open it up during the day and close it at night, or leave it open 24/7.

Creekside Neighborhood has been active on this issue. We suggest contacting them to be further involved. But it’s also critical to make your voice heard with Council if you oppose this. If you can’t make the meeting to speak, you can also file an eComment or contact the councilmembers.

Creekside Neighbors polled the neighborhood about opposition to opening Jackson Gate.