Los Angeles Times

The righteous fight to block housing NIMBYism


Huntington Beach deserves to be sued. California has a crippling housing shortage that has driven up home prices and rents, fueled homelessne­ss and pushed residents and business out of the state. And yet the city’s leaders somehow think their wealthy Orange County coastal enclave should be exempt from producing its fair share of homes.

Of course the city shouldn’t be exempt. It’s welcome news that Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta sued Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws. The lawsuit should be a warning to other communitie­s: California is cracking down on cities that try to evade new laws aimed at encouragin­g homebuildi­ng.

Huntington Beach and other cities complain heartily that state lawmakers trample on their local control. Indeed, the state has adopted ambitious new laws that, among other things, require that cities approve backyard homes and duplexes in single-family neighborho­ods and enact enforceabl­e plans that identify where new market-rate and affordable housing can be built.

Those laws, however, were adopted for good reason — cities failed to build housing. Over decades, local elected leaders bent to Not In My Backyard demands to block or restrict housing in the name of preventing traffic or protecting neighborho­od character. As a result, the state hasn’t built enough housing to keep up with population growth.

To ease the shortage and bring down prices, California will need an additional 2.5 million homes by 2030. But the state builds only about 125,000 units a year. All cities will have to make it easier to build more homes. Even Huntington Beach.

Despite numerous warnings from state officials, the Huntington Beach City Council recently voted to refuse applicatio­ns to build accessory dwelling units or duplexes in single-family zones, banning projects that are legal under state law.

The council is also planning to ignore applicatio­ns filed under the “builders remedy,” a provision of state law that says housing developers can ignore local zoning and propose whatever they want in cities that have failed to write a housing plan that meets state requiremen­ts. Builders remedy projects just need to ensure 20% of the units are affordable. Huntington Beach — no surprise — does not have a compliant housing plan.

Hours after Newsom and Bonta’s announceme­nt, Huntington Beach filed its own lawsuit in federal court, challengin­g the state requiremen­t that the city make room for more than 13,000 new units in the coming years. The lawsuit accused the state of making an “unbridled power play” to turn Huntington Beach into a “high-density mecca.”

The beach city’s leaders seem more interested in preserving some idealized vision of suburbia than helping people who live and work in Huntington Beach and want more housing options. People such as Ty Youngblood, who planned to build an accessory dwelling unit at his 80year-old mother’s house so his family could live with and take care of her. After paying for engineerin­g and architectu­ral plans, Youngblood said, his project is now blocked.

Though Huntington Beach is the most openly resistant to complying with state housing laws, there are other galling examples of cities trying to get around their obligation­s.

Officials in Sausalito proposed putting new housing on sites that are underwater. Woodside leaders, infamously, tried to declare the tony Bay Area community a mountain lion sanctuary to thwart duplex developmen­ts. And in La Cañada Flintridge, a pastor agreed to list her church as an “imaginary” site where affordable housing could be built so the city could claim its housing plan was in compliance with state rules.

California’s housing crisis is too severe to tolerate obstructio­nism. So, Newsom and Bonta, keep up the righteous fight against NIMBY cities.

All cities in California have a responsibi­lity to make room for more home constructi­on to fix the state’s shortage. Even this outspoken coastal town.

 ?? Brian van der Brug Los Angeles Times ?? GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM signs the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 outside an L.A. home. Newsom and Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta have sued Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws.
Brian van der Brug Los Angeles Times GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM signs the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 outside an L.A. home. Newsom and Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta have sued Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States