Council: No Density Bonus for construction in Coastal Zone

The existing S.E.A. Lab building is seen in the foreground of the proposed "Ten21Redondo" project. It includes 30 apartments (six affordable) and commercial space. Illustration courtesy of Leo Pustilnikov

by Garth Meyer

City councilmembers voted 4-0 Tuesday to approve a final draft of a letter against a state Senate bill seeking to end the Coastal Zone exemption for California’s Density Bonus construction law.

The bill, 2560, was introduced in February by Assembly member David Alvarez (Chula Vista) and co-author Scott Weiner (San Francisco/San Mateo County). 

In April, the Redondo council approved a resolution and draft letter.

“It’s so obvious somebody’s doing the bidding of developers,” said City Councilman Todd Loewenstein.

Density bonus refers to, if a developer includes a certain percentage of affordable units in a housing project, they are eligible for bonuses such as density that exceeds local zoning.

Initially passed in 1979 and expanded in 2021, the law only applies to areas already zoned as residential. The update three years ago enhanced incentives for affordable and senior housing components, and reduced parking mandates.

At present, all of the California Coastal Zone is exempt from Density Bonus. 

The Coastal Zone, formed in 1976, is a strip of land and water that extends the length of the state. 

Redondo Beach AES power plant site owners argued in court last year that a law similar to Density Bonus, known as “Builder’s Remedy,” should allow their proposal to build 2,700 units of residential and commercial space on the land. 

The judge ruled against them.

Builder’s Remedy is a previously obscure part of state law which exempts property owners from certain zoning rules if the city they intend to build in does not have a state-certified housing element – and the proposed project includes a certain amount of affordable housing.

Redondo Beach City Councilman Nils Nehrenheim was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting. ER

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