Municipality's local control housing lawsuit against California thrown out of Federal Court

A Federal Court tossed out a lawsuit claim in a setback for a California municipality's efforts to evade state housing laws. Filed in Fe...

A Federal Court tossed out a lawsuit claim in a setback for a California municipality's efforts to evade state housing laws.

Filed in Federal Court by Huntington Beach, the Orange County municipality sought to dismiss the state's lawsuit against them, claiming they violated fair housing laws as they attempted to skirt affordable housing requirements.

U.S. District Judge Fred Slaughter ruled the city did not have standing based on a 1980 ruling in the U.S. Ninth Circuit opinion in City of S. Lake Tahoe v. California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The dismissal was issued with prejudice, and the city plans to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. 

In a statement issued following the ruling, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the state will proceed with their case. 

"We filed a motion to dismiss Huntington Beach's federal lawsuit because we believed it was meritless. We are pleased that the court agreed," Bonta said. "With this behind us, we look forward to prosecuting our state case against Huntington Beach. Everyone must do their part to address California's housing crisis."

Gov. Gavin Newsom also used the dismissal to remind municipalities the state will actively pursue those who flout housing rules. 

“Today’s ruling from the court signals that Huntington Beach, and other communities like it, will not succeed in trying to use the legal system to stall the development of badly needed housing," Newsom said. "It's well past time for Huntington Beach to move quickly towards planning for their fair share of housing.”

Along with Huntington Beach, the city of Elk Grove is in the crosshairs of the Attorney General and Newsom. Not long after the state began its pursuit of Huntington Beach, it set its sites on Elk Grove. 

The state is pursuing a lawsuit against Elk Grove for its 2022 rejection of the Oak Rose affordable housing project in the city's Old Town special planning area. The city has denied any wrongdoing in rejecting the project, while Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city council have bemoaned what they characterize as the state's overreach into land planning and zoning.

While the lawsuit continues working its way through the judicial process, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen has repeatedly claimed the project's developers, Excelerate Housing Group, are amenable to relocating the project to another location in the city. Excelerate has not commented on Singh-Allen's claims. 

If the city and Excelerate reach a relocation agreement, it is unclear if Bonta would drop the lawsuit.  

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