City enacts commerical linkage fee to help fund affordable housing development

By a unanimous council vote, Culver City is establishing an ordinance that would introduce a linkage fee connected to any future commercial development in the city, which will be designated to fund the development of affordable housing.

The ordinance will implement a fee of $5 per square foot to most new commercial developments in the city.

Discussion around housing has intensified with the sudden entrance of large company headquarters in the Culver City scene.

Concerns were raised that there would simply not be enough homes for the workers to be able to live close to their jobs, and the discussion of affordability has evolved into one of the most controversial community topics in Culver City’s modern history.

However, the adoption of this fee was anything but, as there was a universal understanding that such a fee was necessary and universally beneficial to parties in the city.

This bi-partisan trust comes from a long process of studies, which show that “a sufficient nexus exists between the addition of new commercial development and the jobs/new workers that this development creates, and the workers’ need for additional housing in proximity to the jobs, a portion of which must be affordable to moderate and lower income workers.”

There are several limiting factors to this fee, allowing developments to be granted exceptions based on certain conditions. Those exempt from the fee are:

  • Commercial development with a gross leasable floor area of 10,000 square feet or less
  • Commercial development with an application that has been deemed complete prior to the effective date of this Ordinance
  • Housing components of Mixed-Use Projects
  • Institutional and community land uses which serve the public, such as hospitals, religious institutions, museums, educational facilities, youth and recreational facilities; 
  • Structures damaged by an act of nature

The Gross Leasable Floor Area of a development the square footage in a commercial property designed for a tenant’s exclusive use.

Typically, this includes mezzanines, basements, or upper floors, but does not include shared areas, such as parking garages, public bathrooms or maintenance areas. 

Gross Leasable Floor Area is measured from the center of the wall separating tenant spaces. Internal walls are incorporated in the Gross Leasable Floor Area.