The state of California is suing the city of Huntington Beach for not building enough affordable homes for its residents. However, Huntington Beach has since filed a counter lawsuit against the state, saying that California’s housing laws are “unconstitutional.”
California governor Gavin Newsom said the state brought the case against Huntington Beach because its harmed the ability of local families to find affordable housing, and instead driven up housing costs for the city’s residents. The governor added that he has tried to work with city authorities to help it comply with state housing laws, but says officials have “willfully refused” to do so.
Now, Newsom wants to force the city to build more affordable housing units for lower income families.
The case is the first time that California has taken legal action against one of its own cities, HousingWire reported.
Under Californian law, cities and counties are required to adopt housing plans that meet local needs, which are partly dictated by their local economies. There needs to be a “fair share” of affordable housing and cities must also provide zoning that encourages such development.
But Huntington Beach says that California’s constitution gives it exclusive authority to determine its zoning laws and how the land is used.
“It’s one thing to have more basic housing laws come out of Sacramento; it’s another to have Sacramento try to micromanage cities’ zoning and attempt to approve development projects in spite of the city,” Michael Gates, city attorney for Huntington Beach, told SFgate.com. “It’s really nothing more than the city trying to maintain its local control.”
The California Department of Housing and Community Development, which is the body that monitors cities’ compliance of housing laws, said that Huntington Beach had altered its housing plan to reduce the number of affordable homes that are built in the city. California intervened in order to get Huntington Beach to comply, but the city’s council voted against a recent proposal to build more affordable homes.
“The state doesn’t take this action lightly,” Newsom said. “The huge housing costs and sky-high rents are eroding quality of life for families across the state. California’s housing crisis is an existential threat to our state’s future and demands an urgent and comprehensive response.”