Huntington Beach now finds itself on the front line of the tug-of-war over affordable housing and local control of land use decisions.
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced it was taking Surf City to court over a state housing law that mandates a certain amount of new construction be devoted to being “affordable to the city’s residents across all income levels.”
“The state doesn’t take this action lightly,” said Newsom. “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.”
Michael Gates, city attorney, said in a statement “It is noteworthy that Sacramento is suing only the city of Huntington Beach, while over 50 other cities in California have not yet met” their targets, Gates said. “That raises questions about the motivation for this lawsuit filed only against Huntington Beach.”
The state is contending that Huntington Beach – under California law – must provide 533 low-income housing units by 2021 to meet its quota. It’s about 400 short, partly because of opposition from residents to high-density development, especially along Beach Boulevard and Edinger Avenue.
Under AB 72, passed in 2017 and taking effect in 2018, the state can revoke a city’s housing plan and empower the attorney general to take cities to court to ensure compliance.
It won’t be the first time that the state and Huntington Beach have clashed recently. The city won a Superior Court decision that stated that SB 54 – officially the “California Values Act” and unofficially (by opponents) the “Sanctuary State Law” – doesn’t apply to Huntington Beach on the grounds that it is a charter city. SB 54 places restrictions on how local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration officials.
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