Culver City Bounce Forward


“THERE ARE IN history what you could call ‘plastic hours,’” the philosopher Gershom Scholem once said. “Namely, crucial moments when it is possible to act. If you move then, something happens.” In such moments, an ossified social order suddenly turns pliable, prolonged stasis gives way to motion, and people dare to hope. Plastic hours are rare. They require the right alignment of public opinion, political power, and events—usually a crisis. They depend on social mobilization and leadership. They can come and go unnoticed or wasted. Nothing happens unless you move.”
George Packer, The Atlantic

At this moment of crisis, Culver City has the opportunity to set the stage for a major leap forward as a city and a community. Before the Covid-19 virus brought the world to its knees, the city was engaged in tremendous growth, but also faced the extreme challenges that sudden growth brings with it. An independent city at the heart of the LA metropolis, Culver City still benefits from the advantages of a small, nimble, adaptive, flexible and innovative community. Culver City Bounce Forward is taking these advantages, and through research, analysis and planning, helping to prepare the city to leap back into action and growth.

Focused directly on actionable recommendations and implementation, Culver City Forward (CCF) and the RAND Pardee Center (RPC), with financial support from Redcar Properties, are collaborating to develop a plan to help Culver City navigate the first six months (and the rest) of 2021 so that it can bounce forward from the COVID-19 pandemic to best meet its long-term goals. The objective is to foster a community collaboration across all sectors of the city that will focus on actions that the city government, businesses, and community can undertake in 2021 to help the achieve the goals articulated in the ongoing General Plan Update.

This effort explicitly considers goals during and beyond immediate recovery, including preserving government solvency and services for the community during and after recovery, and continuity for residents in their homes and ownership in their businesses. We are researching and developing policies and initiatives that can be harmonized across the city’s systems and institutions to achieve synergies and avoid inconsistent or conflicting outcomes. What is the optimal balance locally between public health and economic sustainability?

We are anticipating and analyzing the key tradeoffs that need to be considered and when choices need to be made (for example, the optimal balance between stay-at-home orders to preserve public health vs. opening sectors of our economy to preserve business sustainability, or more specifically to our local ecosystem, how to manage outdoor restaurant dining while minimizing risk of viral infection.) What is the best approach and policy for reopening the campuses of our small, independent public school district? What are the most vital issues and how can we best manage them to our advantage, to recover quickly and to bounce forward?

In particular, the project includes explicit consideration of fiscal and policy alternatives for a city budget hard hit by the effects of the pandemic. Such alternatives include the public financing concept of “value capture” and other incentive programs designed to increase revenues for the city without overburdened corporate stakeholders through traditional fiscal programs. The process focuses on how Culver City leadership, both in government and the private sector, may most effectively adopt a robust, adaptive and goal-oriented approach during both crisis and recovery to assist the city navigate and mitigate its budget shortfall through innovative fiscal policies.

We are conducting research with city staff and community members to develop local pathways consistent with alternative state and national futures for the year 2023 and identifying near-term ‘robust’ actions – that is, portfolios of actions that are together capable of achieving objectives across different scenarios and conditions.