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3 City Owned Parking Lots Earmarked for Affordable Housing

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By Jorge Casuso

March 9, 2023 -- The City Council is poised to set aside three surface parking lots in the Mid-City Neighborhood for low-income housing, bringing Santa Monica a step closer to meeting its State-mandated housing goal.

The Council on Tuesday is expected to designate the three parcels near the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center as "exempt surplus land," paving the way for 100 percent affordable housing developments totaling 130 units.

The City will then seek development bids expedited under the Homelessness Emergency the Council declared last month, according to staff ("Council Votes to Declare Homelessness Emergency," February 15, 2023).

The California Surplus Land Act "requires local agencies to prioritize opportunities for certain uses including affordable housing development for any land the entity may sell or lease," staff wrote in a report to the Council.

"Exempt surplus land does not have to follow the procedural requirements of the Surplus Land Act, and includes surplus land that is offered for open, competitive bid for a 100 percent affordable housing development."

The three parcels at 1217 Euclid Street, 1211-1217 Fourteenth Street and 1146 Sixteenth Street -- are among 24 City owned parcels earmarked for 100 percent affordable housing development.

The sites include seven parcels on Main Street totaling 577 units, 11 Downtown parcels totaling 466 units and two parcels at 2500 Olympic totaling 707 units.

"To address the City’s shortfall of sites that are suitable for the creation of housing affordable to low-income households, the City committed to developing 100 percent affordable housing on City-owned parcels," staff said.

The City owned sites would provide a total of 1,880 affordable units, nearly one-third of the approximately 6,200 affordable units the City would need to plan to build to meet its State mandated housing quota over the next eight years.

Santa Monica is expected to easily meet its quota of some 2,727 market rate units mandated by the State.

If the City fails to plan to build its allotment of 8,895 new housing units -- or about 1,100 per year -- its Housing Element could fall out of compliance.

This would allow developers to bypass the City's zoning code and general plan with little public input ("Housing Plan Delays Led to Loss of Local Control," October 14, 2022).

The City's Request for Proposals for the three Mid-City sites would invite developers "to submit information about their qualifications, experience, and financial capacity to undertake and successfully complete affordable housing development," staff said.

Developers will also be asked to submit conceptual designs and service plans "to illustrate the team’s overall approach and thought process toward achieving the City’s affordable housing objectives.

"Proposers would also be encouraged to consider and propose approaches to replacing the public parking among the sites," staff said.

The three existing surface lots currently generate $200,000 a year in parking revenues, according to staff.

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