Living in Santa Monica might seem like a dream that is far out of reach for renters trying to move in or too expensive for renters currently living in the Santa Monica area. Santa Monica has focused on affordable housing, but this may be at risk with the addition of Senate Bill No. 9. 

Recently Senate Bill No. 9 (SB 9) has been signed into law by Governor Newsom. This bill changes zoning laws which allow more units to be built on a single parcel of land. SB 9 allows new development on lots that are currently allotted for single-family homes and the owners have the possibility of splitting their property into two lots. It is debated whether it will help with affordable housing or lead to profit for developers and investors as these new bills don’t require any of the newly constructed units to be affordable. Additionally, a poll taken from David Binder Research showed an opposition of 71% for the state of California. The new SB 9 does not mandate that any of the new buildings that would be developed have to be allotted for Section 8 or low-income housing. 

Historically Santa Monica has done a good job at having Section 8 and low-income housing in their developments. In 2010 Santa Monica added the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) which builds upon Santa Monica’s General Plan. LUCE focuses on the future of Santa Monica for the next 20 years, ending in 2030. According to Santa Monica’s 2021-2029 Housing Element, it focuses on “affordable housing, tenant protection, housing and services for special needs groups, homeless services, sustainable development, and fair housing”. LUCE follows the States Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirements for more than 8,800 new housing units, two-thirds needing to be affordable living. This needs to be completed within the next eight years. 

According to City Council Member Oscar de la Torre, this bill does nothing to expand affordable housing and will lead to further gentrification and displacement of lower-income residents. With an overwhelming percentage of Santa Monica renting, adding more buildings might seem like a good choice for people to move. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71% of people living in Santa Monica are renters. Additional housing seems like a logical decision based on these statistics as an easy way to add affordable housing.  

To enhance this bill, it should be mandated that a certain amount of the housing that is split must be created for affordable housing. This would also build upon the housing laws already set forth by Santa Monica. SB 9 seems like a good bill that would allow for Section 8 and low-income housing; however it is not stated that it needs to be a part of the developers’ plan. SB 9 can be improved by making a section of bill focusing on Section 8 and low income. This would provide lower income families an opportunity for upward social mobility. SB 9 is not essential to Santa Monica to continue the growth of affordable housing in fact it could be doing just the opposite. 

Alexander Luis Daly-Williamson and Abraham Tonatiuh Baltazar