California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced two lawsuits against the city of Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws during a Thursday press conference.
What follows may be a test case for recent state laws designed to lower the barriers to new housing construction. Housing’s high cost and low availability has become a major pinch point for California’s economy.
The Orange County beach city of 200,000 passed an ordinance last month blocking the processing of applications of accessory dwelling units, or so called “granny flats,” on single family home properties.
The city ordinance conflicts with Senate Bill 9, approved in 2021, which mandates a streamlined approval process for ADUs and splitting single family home lots in order to create more housing units.
“Huntington Beach is Exhibit A of what is wrong with housing in California,” Newsom said.
The state’s lawsuit includes a motion for preliminary injunction against Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws.
State law requires permitting agencies to approve or deny ADU applications “ministerially,” using objective standards, within 60 days. If it denies the application, it has to provide the property owner a list of remedies.
This is the second time in recent years that the state and the city have been at loggerheads over state laws created to speed up housing construction to combat the state’s affordable housing and homelessness crises.
It settled in 2020 with the state on a 2019 lawsuit brought by then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra over city leaders’ defiance of minimum affordable housing construction requirements.
“They lost the lawsuit in 2019, and they will lose again,” Newsom said.
California needs to build 2.5 million new homes by 2030,