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Newsom Designates Santa Monica Prohousing Community


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By Lookout Staff

January 31, 2024 -- Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday designated Santa Monica as a prohousing community recognized for "cutting red tape and speeding up housing approvals."

Santa Monica joins 36 other California communities on the prohousing list, giving it "priority for resources to build housing to help meet the statewide goal of 2.5 million homes by 2030," according to the Governor's office.

“We need to aggressively build more housing to support Californians," Newsom said. "Prohousing cities move to the front of the line when it comes to incentives, funding and other state resources.

"It’s critical for more communities to join in this distinction and build their fair share of housing,” Newsom said.

Santa Monica joined Eureka, Healdsburg, Mountain View, Petaluma, San Luis Obispo and the County of Tulare on the list of prohousing communities on Wednesday.

Despite seeing its population drop for the third year in a row, State officials say California needs to add 2.5 million homes over the next seven years.

"Reaching this goal will only be possible with the concerted efforts of state and local governments actively working to implement state housing laws and best practices," Newsom's office said.

"The Prohousing designation rewards communities that are willing to reduce barriers to construction, lower costs, and create overall housing policies aligned with state goals."

According to a statement issued Wednesday, "Prohousing communities receive additional points in the scoring of competitive housing, community development, and infrastructure funding administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)."

Last year the Santa Monica City Council approved zoning changes to help meet the State's mandate to plan to add 8,895 new housing units -- some 6,200 of them affordable -- over the next eight years ("Council Takes Major Step to Meet State-Mandated Housing Quota," March 27, 2023).

The changes further encourage development in mixed-use and non-residential zones and require that 15 percent of units in market rate developments be provided as deed-restricted affordable units.

The changes were made after State housing officials determined the City failed to produce a compliant housing element on time, opening the door to a sudden flood of development submissions in October 2022 ("Housing Plan Delays Led to Loss of Local Control," October 14, 2022).

The "builder's remedy" projects were proposed under a provision in State law that allows developers to bypass a city's zoning code and general plan if a Housing Element has not been certified.

The developer -- WS Communities -- eventually withdrew 11 of the 14 projects it had submitted after a settlement agreement with the City was reached ("Council Approves Agreement That Removes 'Builder's Remedy' Projects," May 10, 2023).

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