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California cracks down on Los Angeles town for denying housing permit

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(The Center Square) – California governor Gavin Newsom and attorney general Rob Bonta cracked down on the city of La Cañada Flintridge for rejecting a building application for an 80-home development after failing to meet its housing obligations, highlighting the conflict between the state government and local control in housing production amid a 4.5 million home housing shortage across the state.

“Since California strengthened its housing laws, cities have attempted, unsuccessfully, to skirt these rules,” said Newsom in a public statement. “La Cañada Flintridge will learn, as other communities have, that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and ultimately, they will be held accountable.”

The state government alleges that the city did not have a compliant housing plan — a document approved by the state outlining how the city plans on meeting its housing goals — in place when it denied approval of this project. Under the Housing Accountability Act, in jurisdictions where the local government has an out-of-compliance housing plan, the so-called “builder’s remedy” prevents local governments from denying a housing project that includes affordable housing.

In response to the state’s allegations, La Cañada Flintridge stated that the California Department of Housing and Community Development has listed its housing plan as “substantially compliant” since November 17, 2023.

While cities that do not have a compliant housing plan have been subject to builder’s remedy, this particular case, under 2019 law SB 330, which extended SB 8, the bill that allowed for builder’s remedy for projects in municipalities with noncompliant housing plans from 2025 through 2030, projects submitted during a municipality’s noncompliance retain their builder’s remedy eligibility, according to law firm Hanson Bridgett.

Given that 37 municipalities across the state of California have been subject to builder’s remedy for similarly noncompliant housing elements, and that La Cañada Flintridge’s housing element was noncompliant after the passing of SB 330, it appears likely that La Cañada Flintridge could be forced to grant approval for the new development’s construction.

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