Solar panels, drought tolerant landscaping, electric vehicles, composting – these sustainable building and lifestyle choices seem almost impossible for those living in apartments. You don’t own your houses, so how can you participate in building a sustainable community in Santa Monica? In fact, 72% of housing in Santa Monica is renter occupied, creating a complicated landscape for getting green features added to your building.

The landlord community is a critical partner in helping create a more sustainable community, and here at Community Corporation, we recognize that as an owner and operator of over 1,700 units of affordable housing in over 100 buildings across the city, we have an obligation to our residents to create a sustainable, resilient community. Personal lifestyle changes are only a part of the solution to leaving a healthier planet for future generations, but they are an important start. We’ve put together a list of ways community members living throughout the city can begin to engage in more sustainable living.

Transportation: If you own an electric car, and your building has outlets provided for charging, you are already doing your part to reduce your personal transportation related fossil fuel emissions. We recognize that most buildings don’t provide outlets for charging, and that many people don’t have the means to purchase an electric car. You can always ask your landlord to install chargers, and if you don’t have an electric car, try to find the most fuel-efficient one you can afford.

With the expansion of the Expo Line into Santa Monica a few years ago, it’s easier than ever to get downtown without a car. For your next trip to a Lakers game, or the flower market, try taking the train. Jump and Hulu’s Bike Share programs, along with Bird, Lyft and many scooter options, are emerging first mile – last mile solutions to taking public transit. The Big Blue Bus remains a great and affordable option as well.

Food + Food Waste: The first step to wasting less food, is to purchase less food! According to the USDA, 31% of food waste occurs at the retail and consumer level, and while it’s important for grocery stores to actively reduce food waste, consumers can also work to purchase only the food they think they’ll use before it spoils. While Community Corporation is piloting the expansion of a food waste composting program, we understand that it’s not feasible for everyone to compost.

Composting is just one aspect of a more sustainable food system, and what type of food you purchase matters as well. Santa Monica is home to multiple farmers markets that sell organic produce, eggs, meat, etc. The farmers market on the Promenade is a participant in Market Match: a program that doubles money spent for CalFresh up to $10 per day.

Energy: As we all probably know, Santa Monica recently joined with the Clean Power Alliance (CPA) to provide 100% renewable energy for our homes and businesses. While renters can’t choose to install solar panels, they can choose to remain subscribed to the 100% renewable energy option for their electricity needs. Customers enrolled in CARE or FERA saw no increase in their energy cost while staying enrolled in the 100% renewable option, ensuring equitable access to sustainable energy generation. Turning off unused lights, and unplugging idle electronics are good habits to have regardless of the type of energy you are consuming.

Water Usage: As California emerges from a seven year drought, we shouldn’t “unlearn” all our water conservation tactics. The reality is, as our climate continues to change, California will experience longer and more severe droughts. We should continue to take shorter showers and turn off the faucet while brushing our teeth. Choosing to purchase less meat and dairy can also significantly reduce the amount of water used, as the alfalfa and pasture used to feed cattle utilizes a considerable amount of water.

Santa Monica is a beautiful place to live, and we are all lucky to call this city home. We, at Community Corp. challenge you, along with ourselves, to think about the impacts of our actions on the environment. We also challenge other property owners to think about ways to make environmental benefits like solar panels or EV chargers accessible to your tenants, because a healthy community is good for everyone.

Community Corp can be reached with any questions at

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1 Comment

  1. Good article, and I especially appreciate that it came from a landlord group.

    If there are folks living in apartments without EV charging, and the parking spaces are dedicated to specific apartments, then under California law, you have the right to install a charger as long as you pay for it. For those in rent controlled apartments, you will be pleased to know that a new law that went into effect January 1st allows even rent controlled apartment dwellers to participate. Under the previous law, the 500,000 rent controlled units in CA were excluded.

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