When you hear Silicon Beach, you think Santa Monica and Venice.
But one slightly more inland neighbor has been making headlines with tech companies that are choosing to set up shop there, away from the beachside.
Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells said Culver City has less bureaucracy than larger surrounding cities and offers a creative community that encourages new and existing companies to move in. She has big hopes for Culver City to become more than just a one-business town – but not at the cost of its family-friendly, tree-lined streets.
What do you think about Culver City as a destination for such high-profile companies as Beats Electronics and Fullscreen?
From a business perspective, one of the most exciting places in Culver City is the Hayden Tract. That’s because it has a lot of these great creative types of companies, and the architecture itself expresses that creativity. What makes it exciting for businesses is that it’s got a great location, there’s a synergy that’s happening between the companies and the price is right. It’s very competitive with places like Santa Monica, Venice, etc. So it seems to me like we have a lot going for us. And we have high standards so we’re not just going to accept any project. We hope to be that city where you have a really healthy balance between the business community and the residents.
You mention Santa Monica and Venice. How do you see Culver City relative to those other Westside cities?
I think collaboration is the right word. We’re competitive in terms of our rent, but we’re not competitive in our spirit. We work really well together. Mayor Garcetti, ever since he was elected, he’s been convening the mayors all throughout L.A. County and consistently the message is that we need to work together. We shouldn’t be competing with each other. We can work together to draw business and amenities and federal funding to the region. And I very much ascribe to that spirit.
What’s the goal in terms of business development in Culver City?
I’m a strong believer in diversification. When I moved to Culver City in 1980s, it felt like the town where MGM was dying before Sony picked it back up. It was depressing. When you’re kind of like a one-business town, you’re incredibly vulnerable. To see NantWorks move in and start a whole new major business in Culver City in biotech, that’s fantastic. If it can expand, that’s exciting, too, so that we’re not vulnerable just dependent on one or two industries.
Is Culver City finally coming out of the shadows and becoming a viable startup town?
I think the important thing for Culver City is to really always be in that balance. Because businesses come and go, industries come and go, things change. But you have to have really good bones. And those bones for Culver City are beautiful neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, the walkability. We’re that town where you’ve got strollers and dogs and people walking around the neighborhood. And I don’t want to become a different town than that.
So you don’t see Culver City becoming that next L.A. tech hub?
I think there are places for it. Like Hayden Tract, it’s perfect. That’s industrial. So you want to have pockets where that’s possible but don’t impede on the quality of life on the residents. If it took away from the quality of our residents and our housing, that wouldn’t be the outcome that I would look for.