The City Council will discuss Tuesday how to accommodate the 9,000 housing units the state could require Santa Monica to build by 2029.
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) voted last month to recommend that the state require Southern California cities with abundant jobs and transit to build more housing than ever before. Under SCAG’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) calculation, Santa Monica would have to zone for 9,000 units between 2021 and 2029.
The state has required cities and counties to construct various amounts of housing in eight-year cycles for the past 50 years. But many jurisdictions have skirted RHNA requirements, resulting in a statewide housing shortage — particularly in job-rich, affluent areas.
SCAG’s calculation will require Santa Monica to dramatically ramp up housing production to shoulder about .67% of the region’s shortage of 1.3 million homes. The Westside would have to zone for 19,500 units, taking on about 1.5% of the regional shortage.
Santa Monica has already exceeded its previous RHNA mandate to build 1,674 units between 2013 and 2021, but it still has a shortage of units affordable to households making around the Los Angeles area median income. On Tuesday, the City Council will hold a study session on how Santa Monica can satisfy the upcoming RHNA mandate while creating more 100% affordable housing and strengthening tenant protections.
As directed by city staff, the council will consider whether the city should set minimum density standards in multi-family districts and incentivize development in commercial areas and around transit stations.
Current land use plans encourage growth along commercial boulevards and near Expo Line stations, but the Planning Commission and Housing Commission both asked city staff to consider directing housing to all areas, especially around jobs and transit, and not just along major boulevards.
Multi-family districts are not accommodating as much new housing as they could, according to city staff’s report on the study session. Developers often build below the allowable density in multi-family districts, resulting in a net loss of units citywide.
The council will also analyze the results of the affordable housing feasibility study, which found that requiring developers to deed-restrict a larger share of new housing for low- and moderate-income households would make development financially infeasible unless the city allowed developers to construct taller and denser — and therefore, more profitable — buildings.
City staff will ask the council for direction on how to better support the development of affordable housing, including by changing the application process, financing tools, fees and project requirements for 100% affordable projects, offering density bonuses in certain areas and focusing production on low- and moderate-income housing rather than very low-income housing.
Additionally, the council will explore guaranteeing legal assistance to tenants facing eviction — a measure adopted in New York and San Francisco that Councilmembers Kevin McKeown and Sue Himmelrich have proposed as an ordinance — and offering assistance to landlords to maintain rent-controlled buildings.
The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, 1685 Main St.