CA sues Huntington Beach over failure to follow housing laws in warning to other cities

Article CAIRCO note: 
Land use is another tool Democrats are using to crack Republican strongholds
Article author: 
Marisa Kendall
Article publisher: 
Mercury News
Article date: 
6 April 2023
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

In a warning signal to California cities failing to comply with recently beefed-up housing legislation, the state on Thursday announced it’s suing Huntington Beach for “thumbing their nose” at laws intended to help solve the state’s housing shortage.

The lawsuit challenges the seaside Southern California city’s attempt to circumvent Senate Bill 9 — a newly enacted law that allows up to four units on lots in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes.

“Huntington Beach City Council has chosen to stifle affordable housing projects, infringe on the rights of property owners and knowingly violate state housing law,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said during a virtual news conference that included Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The council on Feb. 21 banned the city from processing SB 9 development applications, as well as accessory dwelling units — small backyard or garage units also known as ADUs. The state is asking the court for a preliminary injunction that would immediately force the city to roll back that action while the litigation progresses....

Huntington Beach officials quickly fired back by filing their own lawsuit against the state, claiming Sacramento’s efforts to thwart city zoning rules and force cities to build more housing are unconstitutional.

“We know neither the state nor Gavin Newsom are serious about actually producing more housing. Their goal is just to urbanize quiet private property owning communities,” Huntington Beach Mayor Tony Strickland said during his own news conference. “This lawsuit filed by our city attorney today is the first major step in taking the governor and the state to task over their faulty narratives about housing and their unconstitutional legislative and administrative means of stripping charter cities of their ability to make their own decisions.”...


Suburbs are predominantly conservative and Republican. One way the Democrat party can change this voting pattern is to prohibit land use restrictions and override zoning restrictions in suburban cities, thus allowing for densification. In other words, change the demographics by increasing housing density, building subsidized housing in urban areas, and bringing in a democrat-voting demographic.

The first step in this direction is to curtail the ability of cities to establish their own land-use policies.

Do you want a park in your neighborhood? Sorry, it will be turned into low-rent multiple unit dwellings. You won't have a say.


Huntington Beach and state reach settlement with plan for 502 low-income housing units - Gov. Gavin Newsom had singled out Surf City for its 2015 decision to cut affordable housing from its state-approved development plan, Orange County Register, 6 April 2023: “If there are reasonable assurances that the city would allow those projects to be built, then it’s great,” Gelfand said. “The city is zoning for more affordable housing, which is everybody’s goal.”

The state of California sues Huntington Beach over housing law, HotAir, 9 March 2023:

In the case of Huntington Beach, the state is demanding the city come up with a plan for 13,368 new homes....

I think this is as much about politics as policy. Housing within 2 miles of the beach will never be truly affordable for most people but why not use a conservative city in Orange County as a foil for your tough progressive persona, the same way Gov. Newsom seems to spend a lot of time lashing out at Gov. DeSantis. Practically it accomplishes nothing but politically it makes perfect sense.

Gov. Newsom Browbeating Huntington Beach Again for Housing Requirements, While Marin Remains Exempted, California Globe, 28 February 2023: 

I am reminded when, as one of his first acts as governor, in 2019, Gov.  Newsom sued the Orange County city of Huntington Beach for failing to provide enough additional “affordable housing,” while his own home county of Marin enjoyed a moratorium on affordable housing building requirements until 2028, the Globe reported...

... Only, left-leaning Marin won’t be held to account the way conservative Huntington Beach will...

Huntington Beach is a charter city which has more local controls, exempting it from some state zoning laws, according to a panel of the California 4th District Court of Appeal...

This sounds intensely personal with the governor, and an abuse of power.



Colorado governor, Democrats: limit construction of accessory-dwelling units, duplexes and triplexes, by Jesse Paul and Elliott Wenzler, Colorado Sun, 23 March 2023.

Push for High-Density Housing Rooted in Racial and Environmental Agendas, by Beth Brelje and Matt McGregor, Epoch Times, 19 June 2022.

Invasive land use bill facing fierce opposition from mountain communities, by Ali Longwell, Vail Daily, 4 April 2023.