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Westside Digest

Santa Monica : Housing Policies Assailed

February 27, 1992

A state agency has accused Santa Monica of having policies that thwart housing development, a charge that could jeopardize state funding for affordable housing in a city that champions it.

The charge, contained in a report from an official of the state Department of Housing and Community Development, zeroes in on the effect of Santa Monica's rent control law and slow-growth policies on housing.

"We question the city's contention that its rent control charter amendment and various ordinances and policies to preserve existing affordable housing have not had a negative impact on the development of new affordable housing," said a report from Thomas Cook, deputy director of housing policy development for the state.

Under state guidelines, municipalities are required to have policies that encourage housing development to meet the region's needs or risk losing tate funding for affordable housing projects.

The state report specifically addressed the latest housing plan, the implementation of a voter improved measure, Proposition R, that has stringent rules that require developers to include affordable housing on site.

Developers and their attorneys have warned that the effect of the regulations will be to stop all new multifamily construction because the city's rules make it economically unfeasible to build it. Attorney Chris Harding, who sought a ruling from the state agency, said he will pursue the matter in court if necessary.

Santa Monica Planning Director Paul Berlant said state politics are involved in the report, with state agency people more inclined to reflect the developers' perspective than the city's. "Our council believes there are other options to develop housing than (increasing) density," he said.

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