California Sues City for Violating State Housing Laws

Calif attorney general bonta sues huntington beach fair housing
California Attorney General Rob Bonta at a recent press conference.

Huntington Beach Accused of Targeting Affordable Housing Protected by State

Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development filed suit and a motion for a preliminary injunction against the City of Huntington Beach alleging violations of state housing law.

The suit comes after the Newsom administration and Attorney General Bonta urged the municipality through separate enforcement authorities to reject unlawful and willful attempts to “flout state housing law”.

In a statement issued with  the filing, the California offices said Huntington Beach’s actions directly threaten statewide efforts to increase the availability of low- to middle-income housing opportunities in the midst of a statewide housing crisis.

“My administration will take every measure necessary to hold communities accountable for their failure to build their fair share of housing,” Gov. Newsom said. “The housing crisis facing families across the state demands that all cities and counties do their part, and those that flagrantly violate state housing laws will be held to account.”

Where Local Governments Oppose

On March 7, the Huntington Beach City Council declined to reverse its Feb. 21 action banning the processing of applications for Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) projects and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) projects.

The state contends the municipality is in violation of multiple state housing laws. The city also introduced, but has not yet adopted, an ordinance purporting to exempt itself from the “Builder’s Remedy” provision of the California Housing Accountability Act that aims to streamline approval of affordable housing projects in cities that do not have what is known as a “compliant housing element”.

Huntington Beach is required by the state to plan for 13,368 new housing units over the next eight years.

“As our state faces an existential housing crisis, we won’t stand idly by as local governments knowingly flout state law meant to protect our communities and bring much needed affordable housing to the people of California,” California Attorney General Bonta said. “Huntington Beach’s latest moves fly in the face of the law, stifle affordable housing projects, and infringe on the rights of private property owners in their own community.

California on Housing Affordability

The suit seeks to hold Huntington Beach accountable for its leadership’s knowledge of and disregard for state housing law and put a stop to unlawful attempts to obstruct crucial projects.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When it comes to building affordable housing, we all have a part to play, and Huntington Beach is no exception,” Bonta said.

In the complaint, the state argues that the ban on the approval of certain affordable housing projects is illegal and must be struck down.

The combined statement said California leadership stands united in commitment to defense of and increasing access to affordable housing. In 2021, Governor Newsom launched a Housing Accountability Unit increasing stringent enforcement and oversight at the local level to create more housing, faster across California.

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