Santa Monica's definitely got a need for housing, but a new condo project slated for Pico and Twentieth Street, near Santa Monica College, has stirred up a huge debate on just what kind of housing it should be and just whom it should serve. The project would demolish six buildings that currently contain among them 15 rent-controlled apartments in favor of a new complex that would only have two of 21 units set aside for low-income renters (the rest would be market-rate), and that's what caused the most trouble at a recent planning commission meeting, says the Santa Monica Daily Press. The co-chair of the Pico Neighborhood Association worried about the tenants who will be evicted from the rent-controlled units (all of which are currently occupied), and was also concerned that the condos would speed up the pace of gentrification in the neighborhood.
The chair of the Rent Control Board flat-out said that the project was an "assault" on rent control housing and the president of Santa Monica Mid-City Neighbors (speaking for himself, not for his organization) said the city is "running out the poor people ... Is that what we want to be known for here in Santa Monica? We don't want your poor people. We want them to drive into town and clean our house and do everything else but we don't need a place for them to stay here." (This is welcome talk out of Santa Monica, where, on a different side of the same coin, some richer residents want to stop development altogether in case it makes it easier for poor people to move in.)
The planning commission for its part voted to continue the debate at a "later date," but also said that from a legal standpoint, it's hard for the the body to reject the project, which they can only do if there are safety and health concerns. One of the chairs of the commission did say that she considered eviction a health and safety concern, but it remains to be seen if anyone else on the commission agrees.
· Planning Commission balks at condos [SMDP]