California governor sues Huntington Beach over lack of affordable housing compliance
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken legal action against Huntington Beach over the city's alleged refusal to comply with the state's affordable housing requirements. He approved state Attorney General Xavier Becerra bringing a lawsuit against the city on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times and others.
- The first-of-its-kind lawsuit, filed under a 2017 law, AB72, would require Huntington Beach to amend its housing plan and allow for additional housing units accessible to residents of all income levels.
- Earlier this month, the city filed a suit against the state of California in an effort to overturn SB35, a 2018 law that "requires housing projects to be approved faster if they offer affordable housing and meet certain conditions," according to SF Gate. City Attorney Michael Gates alleges SB35 allows the state to overreach into city zoning mandates.
In 2015, the state's Department of Housing and Community Development found Huntington Beach not to be in compliance with a state law requiring cities to draft and adopt a housing plan that uses zoning policies to encourage the development of housing that is affordable to residents across all income levels. Huntington Beach reportedly adopted a plan that met state standards in 2013 but amended it and significantly reduced the amount of new housing units able to be built, thus bringing the city out of compliance. The Department of Housing and Community Development reportedly made "extensive attempts" to offer the city partnership and support.
Huntington Beach is a wealthy city in Orange County, not far from Los Angeles. The median income is more than $81,000 and, according to Zillow, the median home price is more than $837,500, meaning half of the population is below those numbers and half is above. The median home price is far above Zillow's December estimated national median home price of $223,900, making the region overall quite unaffordable.
The newly-inaugurated Newsom repeatedly has spoken about the state's housing crisis and has made it a goal to tackle the issue. The budget proposal he issued earlier this month focused on a "California for All" and places a heavy emphasis on measures to ease the housing crisis. During the budget release Newsom noted that the state would withhold tax dollars from municipalities that do not commit to adding new housing units at a quick pace or outright block housing expansion.
The complaint against Huntington Beach aims to ensure housing equity within the city. Newsom's statement cited research that warns of the state's tight housing market possibly constraining future economic growth and widening economic inequality.
“The state doesn’t take this action lightly," Newsom said in a statement. “The huge housing costs and sky-high rents are eroding quality of life for families across this state. California’s housing crisis is an existential threat to our state’s future and demands an urgent and comprehensive response.”
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