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Planning Commission: Housing Element Endorsed:

Santa Monica’s Housing Element, part of the City’s General Plan, is in the process of being updated for the 2008-2014 planning period. As part of the update, a draft of the document must be reviewed by the City’s Planning Commission.

The City staff report states that the vision set forth in the draft Housing Element is to “continue the City’s successful Affordable Housing Production Program,” provide housing services for special needs groups, and remain compatible with the direction of the ongoing Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) update. The LUCE update will help provide the land use strategies for the City’s future residential development.

City goals listed in the draft Housing Element to help obtain the City’s housing vision are:

1. Promote the construction of new housing within the City’s regulatory framework.

2. Encourage the production of housing for all income categories, including housing for the community’s workforce.

3. Protect the existing supply of affordable housing.

4. Promote the rehabilitation and continued maintenance of existing housing.

5. Provide housing assistance and supportive services to very low, low, and moderate income households and households with special needs.

6. Eliminate discrimination in the rental or sale of housing on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual preference, age, disability, family status, AIDS, or other such characteristics.

At the March 19 meeting, Planning Commission members voted unanimously to support the goals stated in the draft document; however, they also wanted to add some new goals. Commissioner Gleam Davis wanted to see a real “commitment for the development of workforce housing and solving the jobs-housing imbalance” that occurs when people who work in a city live elsewhere and commute. This is a big problem in Santa Monica due to high housing costs. Davis also wanted to see a goal to “generate housing for [Santa Monica] families who are displaced by economic forces we can’t control,” such as when a rent control building owner decides to go out of business.

Commissioner Jim Reis was concerned that the draft “Housing Element was not consistent with what the City is doing in energy efficiency.”

Before the vote, City Councilmember Kevin McKeown, the Council liaison to the Commission, stated, “This document is a blueprint for the City to obtain the housing we want.”

The document also describes how Santa Monica will comply with the state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment program, which will require the City to add 662 units of affordable housing between now and 2014.

The draft Housing Element will next be reviewed by the City Council. If approved conceptually, the California State Department of Housing and Community Development will then review it.

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