Council ultimately voted 3-2 for their housing resolution at their meeting Monday April 12th. It doesn’t outright abolish single family zoning, but it opens loopholes to do just that. Councilmembers Eriksson and Vera shared our concerns. Eriksson called this resolution is a “Trojan Horse.” Vera repeated his concern this just opens up the city to developers, who’ll make their money and leave.
So what do we get out of this resolution? What does it mean, and where do we go from here?
The good news is, all is not lost. This resolution is part of an ongoing General Plan discussion. It is a step forward for those who want to allow developers to build anything they want, anywhere they want. But we still have plenty of chance to stop its worst effects – namely by the next election in November 2022.
Fundamentally, the resolution gives direction to the General Plan committee to find new places and ways to build new housing. It seeks to conform to the statewide RHNA mandate to build 3000 new homes in Culver City in the next eight years. It seeks to do so “equitably” and with “inclusion.” The three supporting councilmembers McMorrin, Lee, and Fisch made clear this means all neighborhoods are eligible for upzoning.
We were hoping to get further clarification from Council’s conversation on Monday. But we only learned Council now has no conversation. Fisch and Lee made their supportive comments without even addressing the concerns of Vera and Eriksson, let alone any of our speaker concerns. Let’s go over a few of these:
“We have reached out the community about this.” – Councilmember Lee has said this before. It’s not just disingenuous, it throws our city staff under the bus. By asking the Clerk to verify this, he is only stating that they have done the minimum legally required notification. Council is supposed to use their discretion to take it further. They could do snail mail notices to our residents for “hot button” topics like this, but they consistently refuse. Our flyer did more to alert people to this resolution than the city did, with all its resources.
Furthermore, what notice they do give uses vague language to hide the nature of these agenda items. We find out what is really going on through backchannels and rumors. All this is simply embarrassing for our city.
This is a pattern for them. They did this when they overrode the mayoral rotation at their inaugural meeting in 2018. They did the same when they enacted rent control. They claimed they were discussing it for months in advance – and yet no landlord heard about it or suspected anything, until they were hit with the ordinance.
“This has been an ongoing discussion for the past couple years – it’s nice for people to join in the conversation now.” Both Eriksson and Vera never saw this resolution before it was released to the public for the March 22nd meeting. Prior General Plan meetings used language like “equity” and “inclusion” which are euphemisms for ending single family zoning. But their intentions were never codified like this until now.
“People were brought here because of misinformation” – it’s hard to claim misinformation about a resolution nobody understands – even two councilmembers. We are still learning what this means, and that’s why we were hoping for legitimate clarification. Fisch and Lee just stuck with their talking points rather than address the concerns of Eriksson and Vera. McMorrin simply confirmed she was voted in to pass such resolutions.
Culver City News is also grappling with the text of the resolution. They picked up on our “30 units minimum per acre stipulation.” They also mentioned that if we do not meet state targets, this resolution “would trigger a minimum additional density that will be allowed on each site.”
This is what Eriksson means by “Trojan Horse.” And what we meant in our flyer by “this resolution creates a number of mandates and loopholes.” Many are arguing this is by design.
Again, any of the concerns of either the speakers on this agenda item, or opposing councilmembers, could have been legitimately addressed during this agenda item. They were not. Vera and Eriksson said we all want affordable housing, we all want to figure out how we can grow as a city, but the question is how to do it effectively and responsibly. They were not answered.
So why is this happening? Why no conversation? Because councilmembers McMorrin, Lee and Fisch were elected by an activist core of supporters who want them to push these resolutions. They have their agenda and they’re not interested in a discussion. This is why they sneak these things through with minimum clarity and discussion. It’s why they are pushing such radical changes to our city, precisely at a time when so many are disenfranchised.
That’s why we realized, the only way to stop this is by informing and mobilizing the residents of this city.
Ultimately, a 3-2 vote on a resolution made in such a sneaky fashion is not a powerful mandate. Both Fisch and Lee are up for re-election next year. Over the coming year, we need to mobilize to get full clarity on Our General Plan’s goals, and demand responsible growth, not a reckless developer bonanza. The current Council majority can continue to push this through all they want, but if they’re no longer in office in 2023, their plans for our city will come to nought.
We have to remind them of this in the months to come, and prepare for the November 2022 election with the full expectation that they will not react to our demands.