In his March 16 column, “Residocracy opposes Zoning Ordinance Update,” the group’s founder, Armen Melkonians, claims that figures show that the City isn’t living up to the commitments it made under the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) approved in July 2010.
Mr. Melkonians claims that two and a half years after the approval of the LUCE, “a total of 4,618 new residential dwelling units were already being processed or under construction.” At best, this is misleading. At worst, it is a deliberate falsehood.
The term “being processed” implies that the figure includes not only homes that have been approved or are under construction, but also new homes that have been proposed, though not yet considered by the City. Many of the proposals for new homes that Mr. Melkonians included in his count have actually been withdrawn from consideration, like the 231 homes in the Roberts Center on Colorado Avenue near Stewart Street.
Why did Mr. Melkonians use an unpublished analysis from December 2012 when there are more recent figures are available from the City’s LUCE Monitoring Report?
This report shows that 1,067 homes were approved before the LUCE was adopted. While 861 homes have been approved since the LUCE was adopted, only 80 have been built.
State law requires Santa Monica to look at the environmental impacts of future developments approved as a result of the LUCE. According to the City’s LUCE Monitoring Report, the City considered the future environmental impacts of those 1,067 homes in the pipeline as part of what would occur anyway, not as one of the 4,955 homes expected to be built as result of adoption of the LUCE.
According to the LUCE Monitoring Report, 861 homes have been approved in the 55 months since July 2010. That’s a rate of 15.7 new homes per month, which is short of the 20.6 homes per month forecast under the LUCE.
We aren’t in danger of building too many new homes, as Mr. Melkonians says. We are actually falling short of the vision adopted in the LUCE because it is building too little housing. We’ve already seen how the housing shortage has resulted in skyrocketing rents. Residocracy’s approach to double down on our housing shortage just as the Expo light-rail line opens would only make it worse.
Juan Matute is a Santa Monica resident.