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Santa Monica to Replace Downtown Parking Structure with Affordable Housing
By Jorge Casuso
April 10, 2019 -- Te site of a public parking structure Downtown will be used to provide affordable housing for Santa Monica's homeless and live-work spaces for artists.
The City Council on Tuesday voted to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to develop affordable housing on City-owned property at 1318 Fourth Street but left the tenant mix in flux.
The 100 percent affordable housing project would replace the aging structure behind the Third Street Promenade with between 100 and 150 units that could potentially also house seniors and low-wage workers.
"The parking structure is in really bad shape," said Andy Agle, the City's director of Housing and Economic Development.
The City, he said, should tear down the "concrete monster and start over."
Owning the site, Agle said, takes the cost of land "out of the equation," reducing the cost of building a 100-unit project by at least $21 million.
The replacement of Parking Structure 6 more than replaced the parking needed in an area that has seen demand for parking decline, he said.
Housing Commission Chair Michael Soloff, speaking on behalf of the board, said the site offers an ideal opportunity to help the City bridge the shortfall of affordable housing units.
Under Proposition R, approved by voters in 1990, 30 percent of all new multi-family housing completed each fiscal year must be affordable. Soloff noted.
The City, Soloff said, has depended on affordable housing built "not only with City money but on City land."
Soloff also noed that the City's Housing Trust Fund Plan approved by the Council last July gives priority to homeless Santa Monicans who were on the City's homeless registry when the plan was approved.
In July 2018, he said, there were 95 individuals on the City registry who did not have permanent housing and another 44 whose status was unconfirmed.
The proposed housing should be reserved "for these neighbors for whom it is our responsibility to find permanent housing," Soloff said.
Agle cautioned the Council against turning the RFP "into a Christmas tree" of wishes and "not overly prescribe" the tenant mix.
In his motion, Councilmember Ted Winterer asked that the proposals consider housing for "those who are unhoused" and to include live-work spaces for artists.
The later recommendation was made by the Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) executive board.
The Council also said the RFP should include a preference for ground-floor retail tenants that fill a gap Downtown, something Agle said the City routinely does with projects on sites it owns.
The Council also directed staff to seek other opportunities to build affordable housing on City owned sites.
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