Gavin Newsom, who was sworn in as California’s Governor earlier this month, has filed his first lawsuit related to the state’s affordable housing policies.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, Newsom instructed the State Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court against the city of Huntington Beach for failing to accommodate new homebuilding to accommodate its population. Newsom noted the lawsuit was the first brought under a new authority given to the Governor’s Office in 2018 that enables compliance investigations related to state housing laws.
“Many cities are taking herculean efforts to meet this crisis head-on,” Newsom said. “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.”
Huntington Beach has a population of 200,000 and the area’s median home value tops $834,000. But more than half of the city’s residents are considered rent-burdened, and the lawsuit blamed the city government for contributing to the absence of affordable housing by ignoring a state law encouraging housing production. In 2015, the Huntington Beach City Council responded to complaints by residents about overdevelopment by reducing the volume of housing allowed under zoning codes along two major streets by more than 2,000 homes.
Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates pushed back at the lawsuit, noting that 51 other local governments in California do not have state-approved housing plans.
“That raises questions about the motivation for this lawsuit filed only against Huntington Beach,” he said, adding the litigation will only damage local relations with the new governor.
“Now instead of making progress in discussions and negotiations, good productive communications with [California Department of Housing and Community Development] representatives will be cut off because of this new state lawsuit.”