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Letter to the Long Beach City Council: Advancing Affordable Housing

May 7, 2024

Honorable Mayor and Members of the Long Beach City Council

411 W Ocean Blvd., 11th Floor

Long Beach, CA 90802


RE: Support for Agenda Item #17 – Advancing Affordable Housing Production and Homeownership Opportunities in Long Beach

 

Honorable Mayor Richardson and Members of the Long Beach City Council,

 

Long Beach Forward strongly supports item #17 on the May 7, 2024 City Council agenda to proactively address our housing and homelessness crisis by progressing several policy solutions prioritizing affordable housing production and preservation. We applaud and thank Mayor Richardson, Councilmember Kerr, and Councilmember Zendejas for proposing this package of recommendations for further action. 

 

Long Beach Forward (LBF) is a community-based organization creating a healthy Long Beach with low-income communities of color by building community knowledge, leadership, and power. We do this because race and income shouldn’t determine one’s future in Long Beach. Too often, low-income people and people of color are denied opportunities and the means for them and their loved ones to thrive, whether in employment, education, or housing. We believe that housing is a human right and the most important solution to addressing our ongoing housing and homelessness crisis. 

 

Addressing the root causes of our housing and homelessness crisis requires bold and comprehensive action, which this agenda item seeks to accomplish. Based on the needs and priorities of community leaders within our organization, we strongly support implementing inclusionary zoning citywide, establishing a Youth Right to Housing, increasing home ownership via the Housing For All Long Beach Community Land Trust, modernizing zoning citywide, exploring social housing models, exploring the conversion of market-rate properties into affordable housing, modernizing Carmelitos, promoting opportunities for housing decarbonization, and exploring Fair Chance Housing Policies. 

 

We respectfully ask the City Council and supporting city staff to consider the following points within the recommendations:

 

  1. Implement Inclusionary Zoning Citywide

We strongly support the recommendation to expand the inclusionary zoning requirements citywide and eliminate the waiting period. This recommendation has been championed by tenants and community organizations since the early discussions of inclusionary zoning in Long Beach. 

 

To fully meet the promise and intent of the expanded policy, the ordinance must be further amended so developers do not have alternative compliance options outside of providing the affordable units onsite,  paying in lieu fees, or dedicating land within specific perimeters. Developers should not be allowed to propose arbitrary compliance methods to be approved at Council’s discretion. This creates exceptions that swallow the rule and undermines the ordinance. Land dedication offsite should only be allowed when the land will accommodate more affordable units than would have been built onsite (at a 2 to 1 ratio), and when the land is prioritized for Community Land Trusts that provide deeply affordable units. This will ensure that the City can aggressively meet our housing needs while further supporting additional strategies around Community Land Trusts and Social Housing models. 

 

  1. Modernize Zoning Citywide

We strongly support the neighborhood-level approach to rezoning when paired with models of authentic community engagement and knowledge building as existed within the Uptown and City Core rezoning efforts. We echo community feedback to utilize these hyper-specific plans as a means to require developers to meet community needs instead of merely incentivizing compliance. 

 

  1. Explore Social Housing

We strongly support the exploration of Social Housing models in Long Beach and are eager to collaborate with the City Council to put Long Beach at the forefront of the movement across the U.S. to decommodify housing. Social Housing is growing in popularity across the country as an alternative form of housing that is permanently affordable, open to all incomes, and controlled, owned, or managed by the people who live in the units. Social Housing is the solution for the severe and growing lack of deeply affordable housing while correcting harmful legacies of past housing policies like redlining and race-based covenants. Social Housing will provide the long-term economic and community stability necessary for individuals and families to grow, learn, and contribute to society while building the wealth and financial security long denied to many in our community.

 

  1. Explore the Conversion of Market-Rate Properties Into Affordable Housing

We strongly support the conversion of market-rate properties into deeply affordable housing units by means of rental subsidies or Social Housing models where units are no longer on the speculative market. A financing model such as the Oceanaire’s workforce housing purchase with the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA) only provides excessive profits for developers while being a financial loss to Long Beach residents and the City of Long Beach.

 

  1. Identify and Promote Opportunities for Housing Decarbonization

We strongly support projects that seek to integrate housing decarbonization and advance our shared climate and sustainability goals especially within disadvantaged neighborhoods in Long Beach. For the first time in U.S. history, the Federal government has made it a goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, and other investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. This initiative known as Justice40 is a once in a lifetime opportunity for communities like Long Beach to come together and collaborate towards a more just environment while leveraging public dollars for public investment. As the City of Long Beach applies and works towards grant applications and funding opportunities to leverage these strategies, we ask that you seek Community Based Organizations as collaborative partners to strengthen these applications and make Long Beach a strong candidate for these competitive processes. 

 

We respectfully ask for your support in advancing these affordable housing strategies and ask for your “yes” vote. We look forward to working with the City to explore and implement these strategies for years to come. 

 

Sincerely,

James Suazo 

Executive Director

Long Beach Forward

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