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The Real Deal Los Angeles

There’s a new zoning law in Downtown SaMo. And developers already hate it

Retooled housing plan now requires that between 20 and 35% of housing units be affordable
July 28, 2017 12:00PM

Third Street Promenade (Getty Images)

The six-year battle between Santa Monica officials, developers and community activists over the Downtown Community Plan came to an end this week, and developers are absolutely stewing about the new affordable housing requirements.

The Santa Monica City Council voted 4-3 to approve the final plan, which outlines new zoning rules for Downtown, a 40-block area bounded by Wilshire Boulevard, the 10 Freeway, Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard. The final discussion centered on affordable housing and resulted in stricter requirements for developers, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.

The new DCP now requires developers to set aside 20 percent of units in buildings up to 50 feet in height, or 25 percent if the developer chooses to build the units off site. A 70-to-84-foot-tall building in Downtown would trigger a 30 percent requirement on-site, and 35 percent off-site. It’s the strictest affordable housing plan in the state, and developers say it’s going to kill development. It applies to all residential housing projects with 10 or more units that require special zoning permits.

“The economics do not work,” Dave Rand, a land-use attorney said, according to the Santa Monica Lookout. The 30 percent mandate, he said, tells developers “do not come here. Do not build here. Thirty percent of nothing is nothing.”

The city’s previous mandate merely required that 30 percent of the units built in the city be affordable. There was no requirement on individual projects.

City officials defended the plan, saying it offers enough incentives to attract new development such as eliminating parking requirements and speeding up the approvals process for residential projects under 75,000 square feet. [SMDP] — Subrina Hudson