The Real Deal Los Angeles

Gov. Newsom takes shot at NIMBYs with Huntington Beach lawsuit

The suit says the city has failed to set aside enough land for housing
January 28, 2019 11:30AM

Governor Gavin Newsom and Huntington Beach (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

California’s new governor has fired off a lawsuit against a defiant Southern California city, proving he is wasting no time in his ambitious goal to build 500,000 new homes per year.

Less than a month into office, Gov. Gavin Newsom has directed the state to sue Huntington Beach for failing to comply with state requirements that demand the city sets aside enough land for low-income housing, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The wealthy Orange County city dramatically lowered its new housing stock in 2015 when officials amended a 2010 specific plan to cap the number of new units at 4,500, up from 2,100. The amendment also placed stricter requirements on density.

In a written statement, Michael Gates, Huntington Beach City Attorney, said the city has been “complying with all applicable state housing and zoning laws.” He also said the lawsuit is “timed poorly” because it comes at a time when the city has been working with an affordable-housing advocacy group to settle the disputes.

The median home value in Huntington Beach, home to 200,000 people, is more than $834,000, according to Zillow. More than half of its residents spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing.

This also isn’t the first time the city gets into hot waters with the state government. In 2015 and 2018, the California Department of Housing and Community Development issued letters requesting that it comply with state housing laws.

The lawsuit reflects the state’s first under the new AB72 law, which gives it more power to punish cities which break housing laws. It’s also the first manifestation of Gov. Newsom’s proposed “Marshall Plan” for affordable housing. [LAT]Natalie Hoberman