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Affordable Housing Remains a Top City Priority:

Santa Monica’s proposed Housing Element for 2008-2014 continues many of the City’s policies that have resulted in the successful creation of affordable housing in Santa Monica.

The City’s Housing Element is a component of the City’s General Plan, and the State of California mandates that it be updated on a regular basis. It is also important for Santa Monica to have the State certify its Housing Element so it is eligible for certain types of State affordable housing funding.

On October 1 Santa Monica’s Planning Board took their second look at the proposed draft Housing Element. Their first review was back in March of this year. During their first review, according to the City staff report, they recommended that the Housing Element include some additional data, “recent Rent Control report information, an expansion on the discussion of congregate care, a note on housing-jobs imbalance, strengthening of the Section 8 program, providing more protection for tenants, consistency with the City’s Green Building and sustainability objectives, and maintaining existing affordable housing units.”

This draft, in addition to continuing the City’s successful existing policies and programs, also acknowledges the City’s Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) framework, developed after extensive community input. Elements of the framework addressed in the draft include the City increasing mixed-use and transit-oriented developments and creating a program to address housing affordability for more of those who work in Santa Monica.

The draft also contains updated information on construction costs and congregate care (assisted living) facilities, as well as a definition for congregate care. Also included were the addition of Special Needs housing programs, updated data on the number of jobs at employment centers in the City, updated home sales data, and an additional program to find innovative ways to address the loss of affordable rent control units. Lastly there was the inclusion of updated rent control unit data, a discussion on the demolition and recycling of the City’s housing stock, and a revised discussion on homelessness.

Commission members were pleased with the latest draft and recommended that it be approved by the City Council. Commissioner Jim Ries asked staff to see if “more emphasis can be placed on the City’s jobs/housing imbalance” by developing a voluntary program whereby landlords could outreach to Santa Monica workers about the availability of affordable rental units. His fellow Commissioners endorsed the inclusion of his suggestion.

The City Council will review the draft on November 11, and after that it moves on to the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development for its approval.

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