City Council Meeting: CC Residents Sound Off on Reducing Restrictions for Accessory Dwelling Units

Culver City City Council voted 4-1 to reduce restrictions relating to the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s).

Highlights from November 12, 2018 Culver City City Council Meeting

Council member Daniel Lee spoke about how Armistice Day (currently referred to as Veterans Day in the U.S.) was first observed 100 years ago at the end of WWI, as a day to reflect on how we can achieve peace. He thought it was important to think about the day as was originally intended.

Several council members noted that since the last meeting, a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh occurred and a community candlelight walk to Temple Akiba for an interfaith service locally to stand in solidarity for peace was held. The mass shooting in Thousand Oaks was also discussed. Council members talked about the Camp, Woolsey, and Hill California fires and expressed their appreciation that CCFD was providing fire-fighting support.

Non-Agendized Public Comment
Fourteen diverse speakers requested that the council consider forming a Human Relations Committee to advance equity locally, and to work with city employees — including the CCPD — to address public concerns about unfair, even harmful treatment.

An excerpt from Leah Pressman’s statement: “When I heard about the idea…I looked around and found just how many cities in Southern California have human relations commissions: Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles City and County, Carson, Claremont, Long Beach, Oceanside, Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, and others. All of these cities have made an institutional commitment to addressing exploitation and discrimination in and by the city. Why not Culver City?” The council was receptive to the request and Mayor Thomas Small said the matter may be agendized as early as January 2019 (TBD during the next meeting when agendas are set).

A request from another member of the public was to ensure Veterans Memorial Building is ready for use as an emergency shelter. A few council members described the existing cooperation with neighboring communities, regarding Southern California fires, and discussed efforts underway to make sure Culver City is ready to provide shelter and support, in an emergency.

PH1 – Park to Playa Trail: La Cienega Pedestrian Bridge
A resolution was presented for council consideration to “vacate the air rights” over La Cienega Blvd. so that a pedestrian bridge can be built from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area to Stoneview Nature Center as part of the Park to Playa Trail.

City staff reported the construction of a bridge over La Cienega will begin in January 2019, with completion expected sometime in 2020. A public comment was made regarding a two-week La Cienega closure during construction; concern was expressed regarding neighbors’ inconvenience, notably if more traffic is directed through Blair Hills. The City council agreed it would be important to notice the community properly about the closure. Passed 5 ayes.

PH2 – Alley at Market Hall
A resolution was presented for the commercial Market Hall project to “vacate” a portion of the alley at Washington Blvd, Centinela, and Colonial Avenue. Passed 5 ayes.

A-1 Culver Studio Expanded Construction Hours to Haul Soil
A request presented asked to haul soil excavated from the site between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. rather than starting at 9 a.m., as previously approved. A map, showing the truck route of the hauling trucks, was shared.

Vice Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells objected to the temporary use-permit request, because the daily additional hour, with 10 trucks per hour, adds up to 150 hours of hauling soil during rush hour on Ince, from Gate 3 at Culver Studios across Washington and Culver Boulevards to Venice Boulevard. The Culver Studios representative said request approval would reduce the number of construction days by 12 in all. Passed 4 ayes, 1 no (Sahli-Wells)

A-3 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
Staff reported that correspondence received by the council on the subject was in favor of fewer restrictions for building ADUs. The City Attorney, Carol Schwab, stated Culver City needs to conform with state law, but where state law does not specify, policy decisions are subject to local decision making.

Several council members and public commenters on this item agreed that ADUs will be built within the context of a larger process, so it is important to consider the General Plan and neighborhood design guidelines. Council member Göran Eriksson, and a few members of the public commented there hadn’t been enough time for public vetting of concerns.

The other four council members and staff confirmed that during the many public meetings about mansionization, concerns relating to ADUs being raised now had been thoroughly discussed for more than a year, and for the past six months, meetings have been held with neighborhood groups specifically about ADUs. There were 9 public comments on this issue with most favoring the adoption of the ADU zoning ordinance before the council.

Issues discussed: requiring ADUs be located on properties that are owner-occupied, adding ADUs to the top of garages, setbacks, massing on property lines, size of ADUs allowed, neighborhoods where ADUs could be built (R1 + R2 would need different standards based on different existing requirements), the need for greater density vs. concerns about density (providing more housing is an imperative vs. “Culver City becoming too much like LA”), how to incentivize ADU building, the use of inclusionary zoning fees to incentivize ADUs, the potential for ADUs to create more affordable housing in Culver City.

Council member Alex Fisch explained state law regarding ADUs, which cannot be prohibited by municipalities in California, and recommended that the city explore the creation of an ADU guidebook (PDF) so that those interested in building ADUs have some help with understanding the process. Additionally, council member Fisch suggested creating some pre-approved sample ADU plans that property owners could use, if they wanted, to simplify and expedite the planning process.

4 AYES, 1 NO
Eriksson, because he objected to ADUs above garages being allowed to be built within five-feet of another property.

At Mayor Small’s request, the Council Meeting adjourned in memory of those who had lost their lives in the fires across the state.

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