Upzoning our R1/Single Family residential neighborhoods to include market-rate/multifamily development would maximize the number of residences per parcel. Supporters say it will help in our state’s “housing crisis,” diversify the City, and expand housing opportunities for minorities and low-income households.

Many of Santa Monica’s commercial/industrial corridors are underused and/or vacant and could be incentivized for housing. Our Affordable Housing Trust Fund has financed project-based development in these and other areas, with lowered costs and a greater yield of affordable residences.

Upzoning Santa Monica’s R1/Single Family potentiates the higher-income households in existing higher-income neighborhoods – currently 60 percent or more of Santa Monica’s residents earn in excess of 120 percent of area median income – and it increases the production of above moderate-income housing, which we significantly over-produce.

R1/Single Family in Santa Monica is less suitable for affordable housing production because the parcels are smaller and more expensive in proportion to our commercial/industrial, and R1 is not adjacent to Major Transit Zones, which our low-income seniors, disabled, and families depend on.

Upzoning may, in fact, contribute to Fair Housing challenges. Discrimination occurs when one community if preferenced over another, and the “other” is denied the same/similar opportunity. Based on our R1/Single Family parcel sizes/costs, upzoning would significantly favor the higher-income/higher-cost housing, and provides only a token amount of housing for our low-income households.

The state’s Housing Element establishes the number of newly-constructed housing units and the Regional Housing Needs Assessment committee determines the allocation. The state, however, doesn’t have a financial plan or provide (except for Tax Credit financing) any local financial support.

Before upzoning Santa Monica’s R1/Single Family is considered, its supporters, our state and local officials need to identify a funding source, while also acknowledging that in our R1 the production of affordable residents and benefit to our low-income households will be negligible.

About the author: Richard Hilton is Vice Chair of the Housing Commission, and specializes in affordable housing, minority/underserved communities, and Fair Housing. He has served on four Boards/Commissions, including the Relocation Appeals Board.