Housing group announces settlements with three Southern California cities, three new lawsuits for non-planning housing.

LOS ANGELES, September 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Californians for Homeownership, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS® (CAR) which aims to respond California housing crisis through impact litigation, today announced that it has filed lawsuits against the cities of Claremont, Fullerton and The Mirada to enforce the law on the housing unit of the state. The new lawsuits follow settlements in the organization’s previous lawsuits against the California cities of Bradbury, Lagoon Hills and South Pasadena.

CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS (PRNewsFoto/CAR)

“Californians for Homeownership continues to lead the way in using the courts to enforce these essential laws, which require cities and counties to ensure their zoning requirements will allow enough homes to be built over the next decade.” , said the president of the CAR. Otto Catrina. “Recent settlements and new lawsuits send a message to cities across the state that every city has a positive obligation to plan for the housing growth needed to support California growing population. »

New housing planning documents, called Housing Elements, were due on October 15, 2021in the Southern California Region. While some Southern California cities embraced the process, many resisted or delayed. The first set of six lawsuits the nonprofit filed in April targeted cities that hadn’t made enough progress in adopting housing elements and refused to acknowledge the penalties associated with their delays.

Recent agreements with the cities of Bradbury, Lagoon Hills and South Pasadena commit these cities to specific timelines for the adoption of their housing features and make necessary changes to ensure that the housing features they adopt will be eligible for certification by state regulators. South Pasadena, for example, has committed to removing from its inventory of housing element sites a number of plots that are unlikely to be developed with housing in the coming years. The city has also agreed to seek a change to its voter-established height limit, which makes it difficult for multi-family housing development in the city.

Settlement towns also agreed to reimburse Californians for homeownership for its costs and legal fees, and to abide by state law penalties that override local development standards for homeownership. mixed-income housing estates in cities that do not comply with the Housing Element Act – a provision often referred to as the “builder’s remedy”.

The new lawsuits target three additional cities that are far from meeting their housing obligations. “The cities of Claremont, Fullerton and The Mirada were selected because, based on our assessment, they are unlikely to adopt valid housing elements within the next six to 12 months without being forced to do so through litigation,” said Matthew Gelfand, the nonprofit’s in-house attorney. “We are already almost a year into the eight-year planning period that these plans are meant to cover. Developers are eagerly awaiting the finalization of these plans so that they can start developing much-needed housing, and every month , these towns are another month behind to work with outdated land use rules that make it difficult to build homes.”

The RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation) and Housing Component process is an interconnected system to ensure that California cities and counties plan for adequate housing to meet statewide and regional housing needs. In the RHNA assessment, state and local governments work together to identify regional housing needs and allocate them among cities and counties within a region. Each city and county must then develop a “housing element” – an element of the city’s general plan that identifies available sites for future housing development sufficient to meet the city’s RHNA allocation. If the city cannot identify suitable sites, it must re-zoning to allow for the development of additional housing.

The three cities subject to the new lawsuits have been told by state regulators that they must make significant changes to their housing element projects before they can be adopted and certified by the state. But unlike many of their counterparts in the region, these cities have made little progress in this direction.

“These cities have produced housing element projects that fall far short of meeting their obligations under state law and have made little progress in fixing them,” Gelfand said. “For example, the city of The Mirada did not explain how it intended to take into account the assigned RHNA in each income category, which is one of the most basic required characteristics of a housing element. The city’s current plan is not a serious attempt to comply with state law.”

The nonprofit generally offers to waive litigation against cities that are willing to recognize state law penalties for not adopting a housing feature. He made this offer to all three towns, but they declined.

Enforcing these laws has been a major focus for the organization over the past year, and it has reached out to cities across Southern California to discuss their compliance with the law. In the coming months, the focus will shift to the Bay Area and other parts of the state as these regions complete their housing elements. In previous housing element cycles, without litigation, some cities have let the process of developing their housing elements drag on for years after state law deadlines.

Each new lawsuit seeks an order requiring the city to adopt a compliant housing item on an expedited basis, as well as a court declaration that the city is subject to certain state law penalties for noncompliance. Among other penalties, cities without conforming housing features are prohibited from using their ordinary zoning rules to reject certain types of housing, such as mixed-income and moderate-income housing estates. The court also has the discretion to control certain aspects of a city’s land use approvals – for example, halting the issuance of all non-residential building permits or judicially approving housing development projects that have been blocked. by a city.

The lawsuits are:

Californians for Homeownership vs. City of ClaremontLos Angeles County Superior Court Case No. 22STCP03414.

Californians for Homeownership v City of FullertonOrange County Superior Court Case No. 30-2022-01281840-CU-WM-CJC.

Californians for Homeownership vs. City of La MiradaLos Angeles County Superior Court Case No. 22STCP03418.

Copies of the filings are available at caforhomes.org/housingelements.

Californians for Homeownership is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization sponsored by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® devoted to the use of legal tools to solve the housing crisis in California. For too long, California cities have treated compliance with state and federal housing laws as optional. The organization seeks to change this attitude by proactively enforcing the law, in the name of the important public interest in having additional housing available for families at all income levels. Californians for Homeownership was created by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (CAR), and it receives financial support from CAR and private donors. To make a tax-deductible charitable contribution today, visit caforhomes.org.

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Bernard P. Love