The Housing Element Report highlights the city’s specific housing needs, availability, and affordability.
By Jessica Ryzenberg
Publishers Note: WEHOville is proud to welcome Jessica Ryzenberg to our team of local writers and contributors. Jesica Ryzenberg is a writer and digital content strategist who calls West Hollywood home. A graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, Jesica began her career in journalism as a TV producer in Miami before moving to San Francisco. While working at the ABC affiliate KGO-TV, Jesica covered some of the biggest national and global events of the mid-2000s. Jessica’s focus on behalf of WEHOville will be the planning commission and developments. She understands the complexities and constraints of putting out compelling honest content and we are proud to welcome Jessica as our new resident contributor, and journalist.
The West Hollywood Planning Commission held a special virtual meeting on Thursday, July 29 to review the status of the Housing Element update draft. This comprehensive report, required by the state of California, must be updated every eight years and highlights the city’s specific housing needs, availability, and affordability.
Senior Planner Rachel Dimond explained in detail the completed steps of the planning process, which include the creation of a task force on December 21, 2020, community and stakeholder outreach, and meetings with City officials.
The draft identifies three key areas that comprise the state of fair housing in West Hollywood, which include providing arrangements to reflect changing housing needs, addressing aging housing inventory, and preserving existing affordable housing. Commissioners, as well as staff emphasized the importance of strategic urban development.
“The question is, as a city, is it the kind of building/unit that we wanted, where we wanted? Did it provide the maximum amount of benefit to our citizens, for example, in terms of affordability? The vast majority of what was built was market rate and very high market rate. Yes, we built a lot of stuff. Did we do it the best way we could do it for our community?” Said Planning Commission Chair Lynn Hoopingarner.
The implementation of micro-units, which are dwellings between 140 and 700 square feet, at busier intersections was discussed as another alternative to increasing the number of affordable housing structures in the city.
“For years, I’ve always thought we should look to Tokyo as the model housing, four people live in 600 square feet,and here we have averages of 1,200 [square feet],” said Commissioner Rogerio Carvalheiro.
According to the sixth cycle of the Housing Element update, approximately 42 percent of households in West Hollywood earn lower incomes. Currently, there are 16,581 rent stabilized units, 1,056 publicly assisted rental housing, and 720 households that are recipients of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.
Chapter 11 of the Housing Element Update draft encourages the City to utilize existing affordable housing options to meet or exceed our goals per the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment.
“With the rising housing costs in the region, the city must make all feasible efforts to protect its affordable housing stock,” stated the report.
City Council will review the Housing Element Update on September 20, 2021, and West Hollywood residents are encouraged to leave comments and input at this link: http://wehohousing.rinconconsultants.com/