R1 Zoning is not exclusionary

To state this plainly: single family housing zones do not equal exclusionary zoning. Nor is it racist to aspire to owning one’s own home in an area which is predominantly made up of single-family residences!

Homeowners and Renters alike need to beware of the misrepresentation and misuse of terminology such as “exclusionary housing” to confuse and convince citizens of legislative changes they wish to make to our general plan that have nothing to do with each other! It is political rhetoric!

Politicians are trying to make you believe that if we wipe out completely single-family housing zones, this will somehow equate with equality and affordable housing! It is a bold face lie!

Exclusionary zoning was a despicable historical practice which became unconstitutional around 1917. It did prohibit certain races, ethnicities, religions and genders from purchasing housing in very specific areas.  This wretched practice was outlawed and has been unenforceable ever since. 

However, there was a practice which continued for decades thereafter known as Redlining that was used by banks, mortgage and financial groups to make it nearly impossible to qualify for loans in certain districts.  Again, this was outlawed and is no longer possible in California.

Even if they want you to believe that this elimination of R1 – Single Family housing zones will somehow magically create more affordable housing by a theory of trickle-down economics, they could not be more wrong!  The good and bad news is that the value of real estate in urban California will only continue to increase, and there will always be those willing and able to afford to buy at these exorbitant prices. 

Therefore, there will not be lower income or work force households available or created unless it is required by law and enforced! You see, this is a separate issue and the point which politicians should be making!

Allowing random development of denser housing in residential areas will only cause more damage to delicate infrastructures such as sewers, gas, electric and not to mention parking and traffic congestion increases!  

Additionally, public services such as schools, police and fire services will be in further demand. Developers are acutely aware of how this change in zoning will help them, they will not be required to pay for upgrading any utilities or infrastructure. This coupled with the new state laws allowing for ADU’s and JADU’s everywhere, they will no longer have to provide parking for these added units.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for thoughtful and well-planned increase of the density of our housing stock starting from the transit corridors of each community and re-developing commercial sites to mixed use plans.  

For example, in Culver City, what is about to be a positive experiment in this type of redevelopment is the 11111 Jefferson Blvd. Project.  This development will create 230 new homes, 19 of which will be for low-income housing, plus 2 for work force housing units and the rest will be at market rate housing.  The complex has been designed in cooperation for the local community and the developers have listened to the concerns of those in the neighborhood. 

They made significant changes in their design for that purpose. There will be park areas, direct access to mass transit, office space, restaurants, a gym, ample parking and a design that will blend well with the surroundings. While there could certainly always be more, they even included more affordable housing then the minimum requirement!  

This is an example of what city leaders should be advocating. They should not be allowing developers to infiltrate neighborhoods turning single family lots randomly into fourplexes with no regard to the intrusion and their neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of their homes not to mention the deprivation of light and privacy.

Even as it stands now, we actually have a housing vacancy glut, which equates to a housing crisis. Multi-unit developers/landlords have refused to provide housing for lower income renters even if they have units that have been sitting vacant for months because they are not required to. They would rather leave units vacant and take rental income losses on their taxes then provide rentals at a lower rate, saying things like “it just doesn’t pencil out.” Please, give us a break. 

Your state legislators are passing bills now (SB9 and SB10) that will allow development anywhere in residential housing zones, with no requirement to consult the surrounding neighbors, nor to pay for infrastructure, traffic, parking and environment impact studies. 

The potential developer should then be required to pay for the entire cost of the upgrades necessary to comply with the final reports and pay for the carbon offset. There is no requirement to consult anyone nor pay for the increased pressure put on local services.  We haven’t even discussed the extra cost for policing, fire department and school services!

In my opinion, these bills, in Culver City or statewide, just don’t provide the proper structure to protect all of us from random and reckless development which will be only at market rate, not for affordable housing. 

Our politicians are taking the easy way out, not doing the detail work of planning incremental development and just giving developers a free reign over our residential neighborhoods! Please don’t be lured in by their misrepresentations.  

Please make sure your local City Council’s do not eliminate proper zoning for residential neighborhoods especially if they claim doing this will provide affordable housing — it will not.  Contact your local and state representatives to tell them to stop this reckless removal of zoning and planning! 

— Kimberly Ferguson

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