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The State of California is requiring Santa Monica to build more than 6,000 affordable housing units in the coming years, and city leaders are calling on local residents to help in the effort.

Santa Monica has been asked to build 9,000 new units between 2021 and 2029, almost double what the city would have been required to accommodate prior to last year’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment, which called on the Southern California region to plan for more than 1.3 million housing units.

Under the new requirements, communities across the state are tasked with producing more market-rate and affordable housing than ever before in an effort to make a dent in a housing shortage that has sent the price of rents and mortgages soaring and thrown thousands of people onto the streets.

Housing for low- and moderate-income renters will be particularly tough to produce in the quantities that the state needs, so Santa Monica officials will have to rethink how they produce affordable housing in the next decade.

Every eight years, cities are required to update their Housing Elements, which document where and how a municipality intends to build affordable housing within its borders. And with Santa Monica’s previous eight year cycle Housing Element for the years 2013 – 2021 is coming to an end, the City must now plan for the next eight year cycle at a time when Californians are facing a major statewide housing shortage.

City leaders recently invited the community to a Virtual Workshop On the Housing Element Update that it will host on three nights in November. Every webinar will be identical but residents are invited to register for a session at noon or 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, or the one occurring at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. “Come learn about why the update is necessary, the state of housing in the City, and what the Housing Element update will do. You will have an opportunity to submit your questions and comment on housing issues that interest you,” a flyer states.

Santa Monica’s sixth cycle Housing Element must be adopted and certified by October 2021 if the city wants to avoid penalties so planning for the 8,874 units is already underway.

Study sessions with the Planning Commission and City Council are expected to occur in Winter 2020, and protecting existing neighborhoods and prioritizing affordable housing are the two prominent themes guiding the planning efforts. City leaders are also looking to determine what barriers are out there preventing the completion of housing units as well as where housing should go and where it should not.

“This can only be done with your help,” so be a part of the plan and sign up to receive notices on future events by visiting santamonica.gov/Housing-Element-Update. Residents can also email HousingUpdate@smgov.net with any questions, officials said.

Brennon@smdp.com