Questions about affordable housing, development, and homelessness dominated the conversation at the City Council Candidate Forum at Monrovia City Hall on Thursday.
Incumbents Gloria Crudgington and Becky Shevlin are up for re-election and are being challenged by realtor Donna Baker.
Candidates were asked about their opinions on housing development in Monrovia. To comply with state requirements, Monrovia must build over 1,600 units. Crudgington and Shevlin affirmed they would stick to the 20-year plan in place to create neighborhoods around the Gold Line, which was based on neighborhood compatibility studies.
In response, Baker said the city has failed to address affordable housing for minorities and vulnerable populations.
“I think we’re failing to address the housing challenges experienced by low income people, people of color, seniors, veterans, families, children, and other vulnerable populations. They’re being hit hardest by our affordability crisis,” Baker said. “We need to think long and hard about appropriate developments that include less luxury rentals and more affordable housing units.”
In response to questions about homelessness, Crudgington received applause after mentioning the city’s prevention program that helped 27 families avoid homelessness. Crudgington underlined the effectiveness of police de-escalation training in addressing homelessness, and the need to change existing laws that make it difficult to help the homeless moving forward.
“We need to address the fact that the laws now allow people who are mentally ill and probably not in a position to make the best decisions for themselves to stay on the streets, and they’ve made a choice out of homelessness,” Crudgington said. “We’re going to have to do something as a state to erode those rights, so we can do what’s right, which is to take care of people who desperately need our help.”
Crudgington and Baker both expressed support for rent control. Only Shevlin showed some hesitancy, citing concerns about whether it may hurt development.
“On the surface it might sound good, but in the long term, in many instances, it deters actual building of units. You end up having less supply and the rents go up,” Shevlin said. “There are good and bad things about it. I don’t know long-term, if we’re really talking about a housing shortage, if that’s really going to help us.”
All three candidates expressed concern for short-term rentals such as Airbnb. Shevlin and Baker were definitively against short-term rentals that could negatively impact development and take housing units off the market. Crudgington was most open to allowing controlled short-term rentals in order to consider residents who make income from short-term rentals.
Other topics asked at the forum included environmental concerns, failing businesses in Old Town, and quality of life for seniors.
The forum was hosted by the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters.