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Santa Monica Won't Allow Five-Story Buildings in Its Downtown

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Wealthy little Santa Monica is famously against anything tall or big or dense built anywhere in the city, but it's still somehow surprising that the SaMo City Council has just voted (4 to 3) to remove an option in its zoning code that would have allowed new five-story buildings in the downtown area of the city along Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards.

The city council didn't just vote against allowing the relatively low-rise buildings on major streets; they also voted to kill off what could have been a source of funding for affordable housing, KPCC says. The rejected addition to the zoning code would have required proposed projects of four or five stories to enter into an agreement that would have allowed the city to mandate that a certain portion of units be reserved for affordable housing, says Santa Monica Next.

"So for a group of people who claim to support housing, I'm actually quite honestly stunned that we're not erring on the side of favoring housing," a SaMo councilmember who voted in favor of taller buildings remarked before the vote, addressing her colleagues. (That same councilmember previously explained her pro-taller-buildings position by saying, "If we're going to try and not turn our existing neighborhoods into the killing fields of people [kicking] out existing tenants, we need to give that development pressure a place to go.")

Opponents of the option for taller buildings stood outside of SaMo City Hall during the vote, waving signs that read "Too big. Too tall. Too much." One proud NIMBY told KPCC earlier this week that "NIMBYism, by itself, is not a bad thing if you're preserving a city and a city's character for everybody."

But this is not for everybody. It's certainly not for renters, who have faced rising rents and a rash of mass evictions in rent-controlled buildings. It's also not for growing businesses, many of which are bailing on Santa Monica for nearby Westside enclaves with cheaper rents and more plentiful office space. Pretty much the only ones left after that are homeowners, who apparently enjoy living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
· Santa Monica City Council says no to higher-rise buildings [SCPR]
· SoCal needs to build more homes, but 'density' is a tough sell [SCPR]
· Coming Up: Zoning Ordinance Update Goes Before City Council and the Santa Monica Festival is Here [SMN]
· The 10 Most Expensive Places to Buy a House in Los Angeles [Curbed LA]
· Mass Rent-Control Evictions Are on the Rise in Santa Monica [Curbed LA]
· Santa Monica's Refusal to Grow is Driving Out the Techies [Curbed LA]