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State Sues Huntington Beach Over Lack Of Affordable Housing

Newly elected California Gov. Gavin Newsom is sending a message to those cities that do not produce their share of affordable housing.

Newsom, who was elected in November and has made housing his top priority, has sued the city of Huntington Beach in Orange County for “willfully refusing to comply with state housing laws.”

The state attorney general filed the lawsuit Friday.

Huntington Beach City Hall

“The state doesn’t take this action lightly,” Newsom said in a news release. “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.”

Assemblyman Tyler Diep, who oversees Huntington Beach, asked the state to reconsider filing the lawsuit.  

“Litigation is not the solution, especially when it was because of lawsuits filed under the guise of CEQA [the California Environmental Quality Act] that held up numerous housing developments,” Diep said in a statement released on social media.

The lawsuit is the first-of-its-kind legal action against a city for not producing its share of affordable and mixed-income housing. 

With California facing a serious housing crisis, Newsom said his goal is for builders to build 3.5 million homes by 2025. 

Cities and counties in California are required to create a plan that encourages affordable housing and workforce housing development. Several cities, though, are not meeting the state's housing guidelines.

Huntington Beach was in compliance in 2013. But a few years later, the City Council with the backing of vocal residents amended its housing plan and reduced the number of low-income and mixed-income housing developments in the city.  

The state Department of Housing and Community Development, the agency that oversees cities’ housing goals, found Huntington Beach’s housing plan was out of compliance with state law in 2015. 

The governor's office said Housing Department officials attempted to work with Huntington Beach, but the City Council rejected a proposed amendment to build additional affordable units.

“Cities and counties are important partners in addressing this housing crisis, and many cities are making 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.”