Letter to the Council:
Dear Mayor Vazquez and members of the Santa Monica City Council:
On behalf of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) and its 280 member organizations I am writing to express our opposition to the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) initiative.
SCANPH is a membership association that supports the development and operation of of affordable housing. We serve five Southern California counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
We have already taken a position against the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (NII) in the City of Los Angeles and we view the LUVE initiative as having a comparable detrimental effect upon the construction of new housing, including affordable housing.
The LUVE initiative, like the NII, will severely restrict the private sector from increasing the supply of housing thus leading to higher housing costs, more overcrowding, and an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness. LUVE would require most projects to go through both the regular entitlement review process, and a new up or down vote by the electorate in Santa Monica. The initiative would require the developer to pay for the vote, in addition to whatever costs are required to mount a campaign for the project. The end result would be that only the most well-funded developers would be able to fund the vote and the campaign. Similarly, extending the entitlement process and including a new public vote adds time and uncertainty into the process. While we understand that the LUVE initiative includes some exclusions for 100% affordable housing projects, on balance, we believe there are still a number of areas (i.e. zone changes and major modifications from the zoning code for practical reasons) where LUVE would apply thus increasing costs, time and the challenges of developing affordable housing.
Initiatives that add cost and complexity to projects are not the answer to addressing the regional housing affordability crisis or to reducing traffic and congestion. Other cities in California that have passed similar initiatives have fallen way behind in providing their regional fair share of housing and have had to defend themselves from numerous lawsuits. In those communities, housing cost pressures have continued to impact affordability and the cities incur additional legal fees with the inevitable challenges to the restrictive ordinances. It is for all of these reasons that SCANPH opposes the LUVE initiative.
Alan Greenlee Executive Director.