CP&DR News Briefs April 5, 2022: SB 9 Lawsuit; Noncompliant Housing Elements; Housing Grants; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Apr 5, 2022

Cities File Lawsuit to Undo SB 9 'Duplex Law'
Four mostly suburban cities in Los Angeles County have filed suit against the state to block provisions of recently adopted Senate Bill 9. The bill legalizes lot splits and the development and redevelopment of duplexes in areas currently zoned for single-family homes. The cities of Carson, Redondo Beach, Torrance, and Whittier have asked a court to find provisions of SB 9 in conflict with the state constitution. As reported in The Real Deal, Carson Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes said SB 9, “takes away the power of cities to respond to the housing crisis in meaningful and practical ways that will best suit the unique circumstances facing each local community.” The petition claims that SB 9 will raise land values, thus increasing housing costs, and faults the law for not requiring affordable units. The suit comes on the heels of the postponement of the "Our Neighborhood Voices" ballot initiative, which would have overturned SB 9, and limited other state land use authority, via voter proposition. Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand was one of the sponsors of that initiative. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Attorney General Calls Out Encinitas, Fresno County Housing Elements
The City of Encinitas and Fresno County are facing heat from Attorney General Rob Bonta, who has warned both jurisdictions, separately, that their alleged failures to prioritize equitable housing violates state law. In a letter to Encinitas, Bonta wrote in support of a 277-unit complex in a wealthy neighborhood and noted that the state would take legal action if Encinitas did not move faster to approve more housing. Further inland, Bonta notified Fresno County leaders that their General Plan acts against environmental justice and equity and probably violates the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The county has a plan to build new industrial developments in Malaga and Calwa, two neighborhoods that already face high pollution levels. Bonta and his Housing Strike Force have threatened lawsuits if the city and county do not take action. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

HCD Releases $220 Million in Grant Funding for Housing
A total of 20 affordable multifamily housing developments will have access to $220 million in funding from the Department of Housing and Community Development. The HCD's Multifamily Housing Program will prioritize the preservation and construction of new affordable homes, both transitional and permanent, for low-income households. The move is in response to a particular undersupply of affordable multifamily housing, which, with high rents and home prices, is increasing housing inaccessibility and cost burdens. The HCD has identified 20 projects across 12 counties for funding, including seven in Los Angeles, three in the Bay Area, two in El Dorado, and one each in San Diego and Nevada counties.

CP&DR Coverage: Auditor Questions Housing Allocation Methodology
The state Auditor’s Office has called on the legislature, the Department of Housing & Community Development, and the Department of Finance to clarify the methodology for establishing housing targets as part of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment process. In particular, the Auditor highlighted the need for methodological clarity for two factors that play an important role in setting the overall target: the overall vacancy rate and the household formation rate. The auditor did not specify what methodology should be used or speculate whether a different methodology would increase or decrease the target but said some legislative changes are needed and both HCD and DOF should engage in more rigorous analysis.

Quick Hits & Updates

More than half of Californians are worried about paying for housing costs, according to a study from the Public Policy Institute of California. Within the 55% of concerned Californians, 26% are "very concerned" about paying rents and mortgages, and rates increased for low-income residents and renters.

Palo Alto is considering a plan to expedite the process of registering about 130 homes as historic, which would disallow homeowners from splitting lots under SB 9. Many have expressed disapproval, noting that this is yet another attempt from a wealthy community to restrict affordable housing. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Next fall semester, UCLA will open two new apartment buildings with 3,446 beds, making the school the only University of California campus to ensure housing for four years to first-year students and two years to transfers. UCLA, unlike other universities, has avoided neighborhood litigations by constructing new housing within its existing campus.

The office of Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer is suing online vacation rental company HomeAway for failing to adhere to home-sharing policies. Feuer says that HomeAway did not issue valid registrations for nearly 30% of property transactions between a one-month period and suggests that the company has made thousands of illegal transactions.

The California Endowment, a Los Angeles-based charitable foundation, filed a writ of mandate intended to prevent L.A. Metro from fast-tracking a proposed aerial gondola system to transport fans from Union Station to Dodger Stadium. The endowment, whose offices are next door to Union Station, cited concerns about gentrification.

Port Hueneme residents will be able to voice their opinion on whether or not the city should change its name during two public meetings before the city council votes on adding a measure to the November ballot. In the meetings, city officials will present on the pros and cons of a name change, and the public can suggest ideas for new names, including the popular "Hueneme Beach."

The Richmond City Council has rejected a proposal to build 1,450 homes and 400,000 square feet of commercial space on a 270-acre portion of the city's shoreline. The decision comes after decades of debates and lawsuits over the housing and environmental impacts of developing the Point Molate peninsula.

The City of Ontario has approved the conceptual plan for a 370-acre green space that is 10 times bigger than its current largest park. The Great Park will expand horizontally across 3.5 miles on vacant land that used to hold dairy farms and nurseries.