Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica’s Proposed Budget Includes Little for Affordable Housing

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Lookout Staff

May 22, 2015 -- Santa Monica’s proposed $564.3 million budget for the 2015-2016 year has almost no money earmarked for affordable housing, at a time when housing costs are soaring in the bayside city.

The budget allocates only $1.2 million for affordable housing, said City Housing Administrator Jim Kemper. “There was no new funding source,”  he said.

Like local governments across California, Santa Monica is in a desperate scramble to find money to replace funding lost when the state abolished redevelopment agencies in 2011.

The loss to Santa Monica amounted to some $15 million a year, City officials said.

The impact has been dramatic. Affordable housing construction in Santa Monica fell from totaling 56 percent of all multi-family units built in the city during the 2014-2014 fiscal year to just 19 percent of units currently being built.

The City is now relying on market forces to try to meet the requirements of Prop R, a measure approved by Santa Monica voters in 1990 that requires that 30 percent of all multifamily housing completed each fiscal year be affordable to people with low to moderate income.

But private developers likely won’t bridge the gap. Many choose to pay an in-lieu fee instead of creading affordable housing in their development. Those that  have a Development Agreement with the City are generally required to build the units as part of the development.

A slow growth movement is also having an impact on the number of affordable units being developed by opposing large projects that require development agreements. Slow growth advocates are contemplating placing a measure on the ballot that would require large develoments to be approved by voters.

There are no new funding sources to replace the loss of redevelopment funds. The record $115.3 billion budget proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday included no money that could be used to tackle the City’s affordable housing problem

“We are looking for something that isn’t reliant on the state,” Kemper said.

City Council members have been discussing putting a measure on next year’s ballot seeking for affordable housing funds after voters defeated a funding measure last November.

Measure H, which garnered only 42.50 percent of the vote, called for an increase in tax on real estate transactions of at least $1 million from $3 per $1,000 of assessed value to $9 per $1,000.

A companion proposition earmarking the money for affordable housing barely passed.

Council members blamed poor voter turnout in large part for the measure’s failure and note that turnout should be much higher during the 2016 presidential election.


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