June 24, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part II

As referenced in Part I of this article, the state’s use of faulty statistics and forceful legislation has left a dilemma no city should face. That of either losing neighborhood livelihood and character or spending millions in court costs to resist powerful development lobbies profiting at the community’s expense. Let’s turn this dilemma around with a concerted effort to emphasize the importance of housing that improves our future lives. 

Rather than relying solely on private developers to meet housing needs, the state could choose to play an active role in directly funding and supporting the creation of affordable housing. State monies can be redirected to include measures such as increasing funding for the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA), creating a statewide housing trust fund, or providing low-interest loans and grants to non-profit developers and community land trusts. Or tax credit subsidies for low-income housing projects; again similar to the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

With even small state subsidies, cities can use budgeted funds to purchase affordable units to be rented by the city in perpetuity. Good examples include recent nationwide efforts to develop “community-owned cooperative real estate.” The strategy began in Oakland, CA by a nonprofit neighborhood group called the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative with the support of a nonprofit legal group, the Sustainable Economies Law Center. This strategy seeks to assist community control with unconventional financing instead of falling victim to market costs in development. Also, communities can push to create a collaborative with Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to help increase their state funding, and instead of ‘giveaways’ of zoning, setting favorable loan rates or grants, determine a means of insuring debt on the value of developing. By making targeted investments in affordable housing, the city and state can help ensure that the benefits of development are more equitably distributed and that the needs of the most vulnerable residents are prioritized.

One of the most effective ways to influence state policy is through grassroots organizing and advocacy. This involves building a broad-based coalition of residents, community organizations, and advocacy groups who are committed to advancing affordable housing solutions. By working together to educate the public, mobilize supporters, and pressure elected officials, these coalitions can help to create the political momentum needed to secure increased funding and stop incentives for market-rate housing. Such assistance needs to be applied only to the affordable housing portion. 

Lastly, raising public awareness to require fixing the state’s randomized Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process and its unrealistic quota system, as if by a hand unseen. Leveraging public opinion, media attention, and ballot measures can further build momentum for change while becoming powerful tools in influencing state policy. While these strategies can be effective in securing changes for affordable housing, it is important to recognize that they are not without challenges. Building and sustaining a broad-based coalition requires significant time, resources, and effort. 

Additionally, the political process can be unpredictable and subject to shifting priorities and competing interests. Regulating the influence of land speculators and corporate interests in housing policy is particularly challenging, but it is a critical step in achieving a more equitable and sustainable housing system. This could involve reforming campaign finance laws, increasing transparency and accountability in the development process, and requiring developers to provide more meaningful community benefits in exchange for development rights.

In conclusion, the path forward for Santa Monica in addressing the housing crisis requires a multi-pronged approach that prioritizes community engagement, data-driven decision-making, and a commitment to social and economic justice. By challenging the status quo and advocating for policies that genuinely address the needs of all residents, Santa Monica has the opportunity to serve as a beacon of hope and a model for other California cities grappling with similar challenges. The road ahead may be difficult, and the obstacles formidable, but with determination, collaboration, and a shared vision for a more equitable future, we can create a housing system that ensures everyone has access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing. Let us seize this moment to build a stronger, more inclusive community that reflects the values and aspirations of all its residents. Together, we can demonstrate that it is possible to balance growth and development with the preservation of community character and the well-being of our most vulnerable neighbors. The time for action is now, and the responsibility lies with each and every one of us to work towards a brighter, more just tomorrow.

Jack Hillbrand AIA, Architect
for SMa.r.t.
Send comments to santamonicasmart@gmail.com

Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow

Dan Jansenson, Architect & Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission; Robert H. Taylor AIA, Architect; Thane Roberts, Architect; Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Architect; Samuel Tolkin Architect & Planning Commissioner; Michael Jolly, AIR-CRE; Marie Standing, Resident; Jack Hillbrand AIA, Architect

For previous articles see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writing

The SMa.r.t. article two weeks ago was in error by noting state mandates end in 2055.
In fact, the state affordability covenants expire 55 years after a project opens; at that time the units revert to market rate rents.

in Opinion
Related Posts

SM.a.r.t Column: The Up Zoning Scam (Part 2)

June 23, 2024

June 23, 2024

Last week’s SMart article  (https://smmirror.com/2024/06/sm-a-r-t-column-the-up-zoning-scam-part-1/)  discussed the ambitious 8895 units (including 6168 affordable units) that Santa Monica is required to...

SM.a.r.t Column: The Up Zoning Scam (Part 1)

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

Over the last few years, the State of California has mandated a massive upzoning of cities to create capacity for...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Shape Up – On Steroids

June 9, 2024

June 9, 2024

Nine years ago, SMa.r.t wrote a series of articles addressing the adaptive re-use of existing structures. We titled one “Shape...

SM.a.r.t Column: The Challenge of Running a City When City Staff Have Different Priorities

June 2, 2024

June 2, 2024

Living in a city has its perks, but it can be a real headache when the folks running the show...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path to Affordable Ownership in Santa Monica

May 27, 2024

May 27, 2024

[Note: our guest author today is Andres Drobny, a former Professor of Economics at the University of London, the former...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part I

May 12, 2024

May 12, 2024

To quickly summarize, California grapples with an ongoing housing crisis spurred by state implementation of over 100 policies and mandates...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Where Will Our Huddled Masses Sleep? Navigating California’s Affordable Housing Mandates

May 5, 2024

May 5, 2024

Just as Lady Liberty beckons the “huddled masses” of immigrants to America, cities like Santa Monica have an ethical obligation...

SM.a.r.t Column: SMCLC SPEAKS

April 28, 2024

April 28, 2024

SMart (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) periodically invites guest columnists who have made a significant contribution to the...

SM.a.r.t Column: Building Modern Boxes Lacks Identity

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

In the relentless pursuit of modernity, cities worldwide have witnessed the rise of so-called architectural marvels in the form of...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Santa Monica Needs Responsible Urban and Architectural Design

April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024

[SMa.r.t. note: Eight years ago, our highly esteemed and recently-passed colleague Ron Goldman documented his thoughts on the need for...

SM.a.r.t. Column: BLINK NOW!

April 7, 2024

April 7, 2024

Nine years ago, I wrote a column for SMa.r.t. titled SANTA MONICA: BEACH TOWN OR ‘DINGBAT’ CITY? (https://smdp.com/2015/05/09/santa-monica-beach-town-dingbat-city/)Here is the...

SM.a.r.t Column: ARB Courage (Part 2 of 2)

March 31, 2024

March 31, 2024

Last week we discussed the numerous flaws of the Gelson’s project as a perfect example of what not to do...

ARB Courage (Part 1 of 2)

March 24, 2024

March 24, 2024

On March 4, 2024, your ARB (Architectural Review Board) ruled in favor of the 521-unit Gelson’s Project at Ocean Park...

SM.a.r.t Column: Can California ARBs Balance Affordable Housing with Community Character in the Face of New Housing Laws?

March 17, 2024

March 17, 2024

By suggestion, I attended the March 4th ARB (Architectural Review Board) meeting that addressed the Gelson Lincoln Boulevard Project.  After...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Need for Safety

March 10, 2024

March 10, 2024

Earlier this week, in the dark pre-dawn hours, a pair of thugs covered in masks and hoodies burst into the...