The state of California is trying to address housing shortages with a new bill that gives it the power to fine cities that don’t build enough new homes. Cities in the state could face fines of up to $600,000 per month if they don’t meet building targets, lawmakers said.
Under the bill, courts will be able to impose the fines on a city or county that’s found to be in violation of state laws stipulating how much housing a community requires to build to meet its population needs.
Local governments found in violation of these laws would be given one year to comply before the fine kicks in. Courts also have the power to take over local governments’ housing plans after six months of fines.
California is taking action as its earned a reputation for its shortage of affordable housing. State Governor Gavin Newsom is leading the charge to fix the situation, having recently pledged to create a $1 billion fund that rewards cities that implement “pro-housing” laws designed to increase home construction.
“If cities aren’t interested in doing their part, if they’re going to thumb their nose at the state and not fulfill their obligations under the law, they need to be held accountable,” Newsom said at a recent news conference.
Earlier this year, California lawmakers sued Huntington Beach and accused Orange County of not doing enough to add housing for low-income residents. Newsom has threatened to sue other cities for the same lack of action.
But not everyone is convinced that punishing individual cities is a good idea.
“We find new penalties on local governments already struggling to add housing and address homelessness concerning,” Graham Knaus, executive director of the California State Association of Counties, told The Sacramento Bee. “Nonetheless, California’s 58 counties stand ready and committed to meet this challenge.”