Council votes to abide by SB9, not Incremental Infill

During the lengthiest portion of the City Council meeting on the evening of Monday, August 14, Action Item 1 saw the available members of the council unanimously vote to abide by SB9, the “law of the land” rather than adopting incremental infill. Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin was absent, while Council Member Dan O’Brien was at the meeting remotely. 

Mark Muenzer, Planning & Development Director, presented a staff report which effectively outlined two options. Speaking to the News afterwards, Muenzer said that, “Incremental Infill allows for a fourplex, meaning four units in one structure. The council said that they didn’t want to have that, they want to retain single family designation and zoning. Plus, you are able to have three additional units, so four in total, through SB9. They just have to be separate structures.”

Münzer also pointed out that with Incremental Infill, the fourth unit has to be designated for affordable housing, but that goes against state law.

Stephen Jones stood up during there meeting to say, “Ending single family zoning is so important and I’m thrilled you all will be doing it tonight. Staff’s recommendation is clear: state law compels us to end single family zoning, and any attempt to get around that will have negative consequences. Please follow staff’s recommendation.”

However, Melissa Sanders said, “This is unnecessary. I’m confused that the argument is being made the way it is. Incremental infill won’t allow affordability… Infill is the destruction of Culver City.”

Marci Baun had a similar opinion: “I don’t really support SB9 as it’s an invasion into our community. But at least it makes it less attractive to developers and speculators. Leading to Palms and destroying Culver City is not desirable. I’m still confused as to how housing can be racist; anyone with money can buy into Culver City.”

When it was time for the council to speak, Council Member Freddy Puza said, “The character of Culver City is changing and has been changing! I want our city to welcome all kinds of families and individuals at all income levels. Incremental infill was the compromise. Our past as a Sundown Town means we need to put an end to exclusionary zoning. There is still so much work to do regarding racial and economic justice… ADUs are great but not sufficient… I would support a motion to comply with state law within the fullest extent of the law to allow more housing.”

O’Brien then said, “Boiling this down to what the staff presented, [with] staff comparisons, SB9 and ADU laws: Incremental infill allows for 3 to 4 units; state law 4 units. More units potentially. It’s listed here that the fourth unit can be made affordable. SB9 supersedes the suggested local law. We are projecting 8700 units minus 185 if we remove incremental infill. There won’t be a place in the city where we can’t build housing. That’s a massive lifeboat to building more affordable housing.”

The vote was unanimous to abide by SB9 and not adopt Incremental Infill, thereby abiding by state law.

An earlier version of this story erroneously said that the council did adopt Incremental Infill. We apologize for that error.