California Department of Housing and Community Development Sends City of Huntington Beach Second Warning that Proposed Ordinance Would Violate State Housing Law

Housing Law Compliance Critical to Meeting our Statewide Housing Production Goals
February 13, 2023

SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) Housing Accountability Unit today sent a second Notice of Potential Violation to the City of Huntington Beach, a day ahead of a proposed vote by the City’s Planning Commission to prohibit “builder’s remedy” projects, which, if subsequently adopted by the City Council, is a clear violation of state housing law.

“When Californians ask why there isn’t enough housing, why the cost of renting continues to increase or why there are so many people experiencing homelessness, I tell them to look at Huntington Beach – another city where elected officials are resorting to cheap political stunts to avoid their responsibility to build desperately needed housing,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Californians deserve leaders who are willing to make difficult decisions and take serious steps to solve this crisis. The status quo will no longer be tolerated, and the state will hold communities like Huntington Beach accountable.”

The adoption of the proposed ordinance, Zoning Text Amendment No. 2023-001 (Prohibition on “Builder’s Remedy” Applications), would violate the Housing Accountability Act by attempting to circumvent state law designed to ensure access to build new affordable housing, both HCD and Attorney General Rob Bonta warned the city in separate letters Monday.

Every city and county in California is required to submit a Housing Element that demonstrates the jurisdiction’s plans to adequately address housing needs for community members of every income level. The builder’s remedy essentially prohibits a jurisdiction without a substantially compliant Housing Element from using local zoning guidelines to block any proposed housing development that meets certain affordability requirements. Huntington Beach is proposing to outlaw the builder’s remedy at the local level.

As stated in HCD’s letters, the adoption of an ordinance limiting the applicability of state law would represent a new governmental constraint to the production of housing and would jeopardize the City’s pursuit of housing element compliance.

“No city or county is immune from complying with housing laws,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “Jurisdictions that shirk their responsibility to comply with state housing law face escalating consequences, from the ‘builders remedy’ to loss of funding, and ultimately legal penalties, including fines and potentially receivership.”

Also today, in coordination with HCD, Attorney General Bonta sent a letter to the City's Planning Commission urging it to abandon this misguided and unlawful proposal.

A copy of HCD’s letter to the City is available online.

A copy of the Attorney General’s letter to the city is available here.

Contact Details:
Alicia Murillo