State of CA Sues City of Huntington Beach Alleging Failure To Allow Sac'to-Approved Levels Of Affordable (Low Income/Subsidized) Housing; Gov. Newsom Says State Will Take Action Against Other Cities If They Refuse

Governor cites 2017 law enacted with approval by LB-area Sac'to lawmakers without City of LB opposition; City of LB says it's in compliance with Sac'to Housing Element laws is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Jan. 25, 2019, 3:30 p.m.) -- CA Governor Gavin Newsom has approved state-initiated litigation against the City of Huntington Beach for allegedly [Gov. Newsom press release text] "willfully refusing to comply with state housing law, even after extensive attempts to offer partnership and support from the California Department of Housing and Community Development."

In his office's Jan. 25 release, the Governor said the City of Huntington Beach is "standing in the way of affordable housing production and refusing to meet regional housing needs -- local actions that harm California families' ability to find affordable places to live and drive up housing costs for everyone." It quotes the Governor as saying:

"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...Cities and counties are important partners in addressing this housing crisis, and many cities are making Herculean efforts to meet this crisis head on...but some cities are refusing to do their part to address this crisis and willfully stand in violation of California law. Those cities will be held to account."

The Governor's release says "The state's complaint against Huntington Beach seeks to ensure housing equity, requiring the city to amend its housing plan to bring it into compliance with state law by planning for the development of additional housing units that are accessible to residents of all income levels." ( has requested comment from the City of Huntington Beach, pending as we report.)

In 2015, Sac'to's Department of Housing and Community Development (part of the CA Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, a cabinet level agency in the Governor's office) said Huntington Beach's housing plan was out of compliance with state law. In 2016, in response to public opposition citing traffic, parking and noise impacts, the Huntington Beach City Council rejected a proposed amendment to the build additional units.

[Scroll down for further.]

Governor Newsom's release said the lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach is based on AB 72, enacted in 2017 (effective Jan. 1, 2018) that was part of a sweeping package of housing bills (that included SB 35), passed with the support of Sac'to Democrat leadership and signed into law by Governor Brown. AB 72 requires the CA Department of Housing and Community Development to review any action or inaction by a locality that it determines is inconsistent with an adopted housing element, permits HCD to find a locality's housing element is out of substantial compliance, and requires HCD to notify the Attorney General of violations of the law.



Enactment of AB 72 and other Sac'to legislation effectively made CA cities' locally-adopted Housing Elements (part of the City's legally required General Plan) subject to continual Sacramento scrutiny and approval. The CA Dept. of Housing & Community Development website states in pertinent part:

AB 72 grants HCD authority to review any action or failure to act by a local government that it determines is inconsistent with an adopted housing element or housing element law. This includes failure to implement program actions included in the housing element. HCD may revoke housing element compliance if the local government's actions do not comply with state law.

In addition, HCD may notify the California Office of the Attorney General that the local jurisdiction is in violation of state law for non-compliance with housing element law, the Housing Accountability Act, "no net loss" law, density bonus law or anti-discrimination law.

In response to an inquiry by, Richard F. de la Torre, Community Information Officer for the City's Development Services Dept. says the City's Planning Bureau indicates the City of LB has a certified Housing Element, is in compliance with all regulations regarding the plan's implementation, has been and will remain in compliance with housing element law, and on that basis the state's action re Huntington Beach doesn't affect City of Long Beach policies or practices.

Sacramento enacted bills governing Housing-Element law require [HCD website text] "local governments adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements." These include periodic updates to the City's Housing Element with review and approval by Sac'to Housing & Development agency (part of the Governor's office.).

In 2017 and culminating (for now) as the City entered a 2018 election cycle, the City underwent a wrenching process in which the Council approved maps and a framework (subject to a forthcoming EIR and future Council actions) for a separate but related new Land Use Element (LUE) that in various ways enables/encourages increased density in various parts of the City.


The City of Long Beach didn't take a legislative position on AB 72 although the City Council adopted a 2017 state legislative agenda that said the City would "Oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters"..."oppose policies and legislation that preempts the current authority possessed by the City and delegates that authority to the State or other government jurisdiction"..."oppose policies and legislation that diminishes the City's local control over land use, planning, zoning and development decisions, and oppose legislation in conflict with the City's adopted General Plan or other Council adopted land use policies."

AB 72 was supported by the California Housing Consortium (Co-Sponsor), California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (Co-Sponsor), Western Center on Law & Poverty (Co-Sponsor), Bay Area Council, Bridge Housing, California Apartment Association, California Association of Realtors, California Commission on Aging, California Council for Affordable Housing, LeadingAge California. It was opposed by the League of CA Cities (in which the City of LB is a dues-paying member.)

Among those voting "yes" on AB 72 were Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, Long Beach-San Pedro) and now-former state Senators Ricardo Lara (elected Insurance Comm'r Nov. 2018) and Janet Nguyen (R, SE LB-West OC.)(who lost to Democrat Tom Umberg in November 2018 by a vote margin roughly the same as the SE LB portion of the district.)

The League of CA Cities urged Gov. Brown to veto AB 72 bill, writing in part:

[League of CA cities veto letter to Gov. Brown]...Specifically, AB 72 empowers the Department to second guess any action taken by a city or county that it determines is inconsistent with a state approved housing element, the Housing Accountability Act, or a number of other housing related laws. This system of second guessing could slow, or even halt, construction of new housing—a tragic result in today's real estate market.

Not only is AB 72's method of addressing shortcomings in the enforcement of existing housing element law inefficient, it is difficult to fully understand. AB 72 grants the Department the right to review "any action or failure to act by the city, county, or city and county that it determines inconsistent with an adopted housing element or Section 65583," but fails to explain how the Department is supposed to determine that an action is inconsistent with the law in the first place. How could one possibly determine an action is inconsistent with the law before one is able to review said action?

Finally, and most alarmingly, to the extent that the bill authorizes the Department to exercise the unreviewable power to determine whether a city is in violation of state law, free from the burdens of proof and presumptions of validity that courts must apply when reviewing local land use and housing decisions, AB 72 would likely violate the constitutionally enshrined separation of powers.

Gov. Brown signed AB 72 into law (with 14 other housing bills, including SB 35) a high visibility ceremony (carried LIVE on



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