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State Housing Target Could Reshape Santa Monica
By Jorge Casuso
December 26, 2019 -- News that Santa Monica will likely have to double its state-mandated target and build more than 9,000 housing units between 2022 and 2019 came as a shock to City officials as the year was drawing to an end.
Making the target even more difficult to meet is that some two-thirds of the new units must be affordable ("Height, Density Limits Curb Santa Monica's Ability to Meet Affordable Housing Goals," November 19, 2019).
But this month, the City Council accepted the daunting task as inevitable and began exploring removing caps on development ("Santa Monica Takes Initial Step to Dramatically Boost Housing Production," December 13, 2019).
Council members agreed the target cannot be met by continuing to rely on developers to include affordable units in market-rate projects.
Instead, massive new funding must be found to develop the projects on public land -- including in the Bergamot area in Santa Monica's old industrial zone -- and along major boulevards, such as Wilshire.
The mandate could reshape two luxury hotels proposed on City land at Bergamot and in the heart of Downtown.
Already the Plaza at Santa Monica proposed for 4th and 5th streets and Arizona has met with opposition from slow-growth advocates ("Proposed Downtown Development Could Reinvigorate Slow Growth Movement," November 6, 2019.
The housing mandates also comes at a time when the beach city's rents continue to soar ("Santa Monica Among Nation's Costliest Cities to Rent a Newer Apartment," May 30, 2019).
Santa Monica has become a city separated by a rental divide, with some tenants paying triple what their next-door neighbors pay for a similar unit ("Santa Monica's Newer Renters Pay More Than Double What Long-Time Tenants Pay," April 1, 2019).
And new renters have turned the city's once stable rent-controlled market into a revolving door as vacated units fetch skyrocketing rents ("Santa Monica's Newest Rent Control Tenants Leaving More Quickly, Report Finds," March 20, 2019).
Ushered in by the influx of high-tech firms into the LA region, including Santa Monica, the heated rental market has triggered what is arguably the nation's worst housing and homeless crises.
Westside communities saw a 20 percent rise in homelessness in 2019, according to this year's homeless census ("Westside Homeless Population Sees Dramatic Jump, Venice Tops List," July 30, 2019).
By comparison, Santa Monica saw only a modest increase, with the total number of homeless persons increasing from 957 in 2018 to 985 this year ("Santa Monica Homeless Count Shows Slight Increase," March 21, 2019).
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