City Council Sells Out Santa Monica to SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments)
City uses SCAG as the excuse to add over to add 9,118 units by 2029. Pensions need to be paid.
January 6, 2020
Radical changes are coming to the cityscape of Santa Monica within the next three months, according to comments made at the City Council meeting December 10. The council was struggling to react to an assessment made by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) that the city would have to zone to accommodate 9,118 units by 2029. Of those units, 69 percent would need to be affordable. The current population of Santa Monica is 93,556.
9,118 is the number of units SCAG believes will be necessary to house the existing population and estimated growth. The allocation of this number for Santa Monica is based in part on the accessibility to the Metro rail line. SCAG is concerned with reducing greenhouse gases and believes that people who are housed in Santa Monica will not drive cars...as much. Or something. And this will save the planet.
The City Council did not discuss ways to appeal SCAG's ruling, such as pointing out the obvious problems of adding that many housing units in such a short span of time: costs of additional infrastructure, additional police, fire, and school needs, present-day traffic and parking congestion, etc. And, hey, I thought we didn't have enough water. Instead, the Council appeared to rub their hands together in glee, thrilled that some more powerful agency was 'forcing' them to do exactly what they wanted to do in the first place, but wouldn't have been able to do because the voters who live here wouldn't like it.
The Council is well aware of their looming pension liability, money they are obliged to pay out to the prior well-paid individuals they once hired and who now live off present-day tax-money pensions. Of course, present-day, highly paid city staff will demand their pensions, too, when the time comes. It's a Ponzi scheme that governments at all levels have been playing for a while now: present-day taxes paying for pensions that should have been funded by money put away at the time of employment. The SM City Council has amply and repeatedly demonstrated that they believe the taxes and legal kickbacks they receive from land developers will buy them out of their impending financial hole. Take a drive down the canyon of construction Lincoln Boulevard has become, and you will see clear, visible evidence that land development is how our elected leaders intend to finance pensions.
Here are some of the fine suggestions made by people who are supposed to be representing your interests:
- Streamline the approval process for development. This could include eliminating individual Developer Agreements. Developer Agreements are the agreements by developers to include a certain number of affordable units or provide a 'community benefit' in exchange for being allowed to build beyond Santa Monica's zoning restrictions. Developer Agreements have been handed out so liberally over the past ten-to-twenty years with such limpid community benefit that it hardly matters if they are required any more or not. But at least there was some gesture of an attempt to abide by zoning that was created by elected leaders and endorsed by voters.
- Allow developers to build more units (than currently zoned for) in exchange for including more affordable units in a project. Yes, that affordability number is going to be a problem for Santa Monica. It is unlikely many for-profit land developers are going to find a project pencils out with more than two-thirds of the units going to lower income individuals. But never fear:
- Affordable housing 'developers' like Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM) should get a faster approval process. They should be allowed greater height and density limits and pay fewer fees to the city. As it stands CCSM builds at a loss. The City of Santa Monica and other state taxpayers fund their public housing projects, which are given loans with a 55-year length. Basically, it's a public donation. Nice gig for the people drawing salaries at CCSM. To date, they are not very good at housing Santa Monica residents in their 'affordable housing' ventures.
- Make housing out of current parking lots and commercial buildings. This would include appropriating the parking lot at the DMV at Cloverfield Boulevard and Colorado Avenue. Because who needs to park when visiting the DMV?
- In fact, eliminate all parking requirements for new construction. That's right: eliminate it. Because we're going to be sustainable, right? We're only going to take buses and the train. We might get stabbed or mugged (as noted by prominent signs as you enter the train), but you'll be saving the planet, so it'll be worth it. Oh, and your travel time to your job or doctor's appointment (with all three kids) will quadruple, but you won't mind. Money will come out of your paycheck because that is time you can't work, but you still won't mind. You're a tough soldier in the war against individual freedom. Excuse me, in the war against climate change.
If these proposals seem unpleasant to you, you'd better let your City Council know very soon. City Manager Rick Cole stated that the council will vote on some of these recommendations within the next three months.
The city has not even tried to appeal SCAG's assessment. And SCAG will not finalize the number of units Santa Monica must zone for until October of 2020. But our City Council is eager to rip you off and pay the pensions - I mean, they're so eager to help California solve its current and projected housing crisis that they aren't waiting for any possible other solutions.
Stay tuned for a great deal more high-rise development than you have already seen. Included with that will be more calls for you to conserve water and a great deal more traffic, crime, and all the other good stuff our elected leaders have been bringing us while saying it's our own fault.
Oh, and there won't be a single less homeless individual on our streets when it's all said and done. Because not a one of them would qualify for or be able to handle even the lowest income 'affordable' unit.