Exclusionary Policy Making

After participating in the joint City Council/Planning Commission meeting on June 23, one thing became clear to me; council members Lee, Imani-McMorrin and Fisch have long made up their minds about eliminating R1 zoning in Culver City despite a growing groundswell of pushback by the very citizens who will be directly affected by this major policy change. 

It reminds me of the intransigence we faced several years ago by a city council, planning commission and city manager completely uninterested in hearing about updating our building laws to counteract intrusive large home construction. 

But through the diligence of individuals and neighborhood groups they did eventually listen, an outside consulting firm was hired leading to more public meetings and education until finally after two years the laws were addressed. It was a democratic style process that worked.

From what I can see this is not the case with the R1 elimination debate. Most people are just now getting schooled on the topic and making their opinions heard while the council seems to be fast tracking its own agenda. 

Whether you are for or against the change, I think we can all agree that in our democratic society it is the government’s responsibility to inform and listen to the public, then do the people’s work. 

As an indication of just how far back this cloaked discussion goes, former council member Megan Sahli-Wells proclaimed that “it is time” – really? By who’s timeline, yours? Or possibly it is the timeline that looks to the 3 to 2 majority being taken away in the next election thereby shutting down the steamroller. 

I believe it is time to take a breath, recognize just how controversial this “solution” is and actively engage with the public.

Anecdotally, back when Alex Fisch was running for council, he sat in our living room and assured us that involving the public in policy making would be a tenet of his service to the city. We gave him our full support. 

Okay now Mr. Mayor, did you really believe the words you said, or was that just a bunch of shinola in order to get elected? “Exclusionary Zoning”, maybe, “Exclusionary Policy Making”, definitely.

— George Dougherty

Culver City

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