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Gov. Newsom Browbeating Huntington Beach Again for Housing Requirements, While Marin Remains Exempted

‘Build more housing or face very real consequences’

By Katy Grimes, February 28, 2023 8:01 am

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Bonta are once again hectoring Huntington Beach in conservative Orange County over state affordable housing requirements.

What now?

The Voice of OC reported:

“The City of Huntington Beach continues to attempt to evade their responsibility to build housing, but they will simply not win,” Newsom said in a Tuesday press release.

“City leaders have a choice – build more housing or face very real consequences – including loss of state funds, substantial fines, and loss of local control.”

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.

Newsom vowed that because “some cities are refusing to do their part to address this crisis and willfully stand in violation of California law,”Newsom said. “Those cities will be held to account.”

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

VOC continued:

“The State’s housing laws in recent years have become incredibly onerous and burdensome to cities, including fully developed cities like Huntington Beach,” wrote Councilman Pat Burns, who called for the challenge.

“The City has a duty to protect the quality and lifestyle of the neighborhoods that current owners have already bought into.”

“Radical redevelopment in already-established residential neighborhoods is not only a threat to quality and lifestyle, but to the value of the adjacent and neighboring properties,” Burns wrote in his memo.

“Huntington Beach should not have its Charter City zoning rights provided for by the California Constitution trampled by the State.”

The Huntington Beach Council then voted 4-3 to direct City Attorney Michael Gates to challenge the housing state laws aimed at forcing local cities to allow granny flats, (Accessory Dwelling Units).

As we reported in 2019, the California Department of Housing and Community Development is the state agency charged with overseeing local governments’ housing plans. “Since 1969, California has required that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community,” the agency says on its website.

Also on the website of the Housing agency are links to “Status and Copies of All Housing Elements.” Only, “all” cities are not included in the report, “Copies of all housing elements.”

Notably absent are cities in Marin County.

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. The appeals court ruled in 2017 that charter cities like Huntington Beach can approve plans that don’t meet the state’s housing requirements and can eliminate sites zoned for affordable housing. The state appealed the ruling.

The Department of Housing and Community Development reported in 2019 that most of California city’s housing plans are in compliance, while 51 cities and counties were not, including Huntington Beach… and Selma, Orange Cove, Holtville, Lake County, Bradbury, Claremont, La Puente, Maywood, Montebello, Paramount, Rolling Hills, South El Monte, Westlake Village, Atwater… while all Marin County cities were listed in compliance.

That report is no longer available on the housing department website.

In much smaller type The Department of Housing and Community Development also says:

“California’s Housing Element Law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain) housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely on the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.”

Huntington Beach has an extensive list of affordable housing on its website, as well as Affordable Ownership Housing.

A recent report in the Marin Independent Journal updated the county’s issues with affordable housing requirements:

Marin County and its municipalities have been mandated by the state to allow more than 14,000 new residences by 2031, but less than half the housing will meet the county’s definition of affordable.

Marin supervisors raised the issue in July 2021 when they unsuccessfully appealed the county’s assignment to allow 3,569 new dwellings. Of that total, just 1,734, or 48.56%, are required to meet the affordability standard.

Neither Marin County nor Huntington Beach should not be forced to comply with the state’s one-size-fits-all housing mandates – even granny flats behind the main house. Cities and counties are much better suited to determine housing needs – and if they even want more housing built in their region. Water requirements, roads and bridges, are impacted, as are public schools, hospitals and medical facilities, and even grocery stores, and these are all issues the governor and legislators constantly badger cities and counties over.

Even “affordable” housing is very expensive in California, and that is because of state and local zoning and permitting, making it progressively harder to construct new housing. The median home price in California is approximately $800,000, more than double the national average of about $350,000. To even build apartments in California, unit costs are also as high as $800,000.

And California has beautiful weather, and many very desirable areas to live: the coast, the mountains, desert, and picturesque rural areas. Supply and demand are at work in California, but that’s not all.

“No amount of upzoning will make low- and very-low-income housing financially feasible to build without subsidies,” Matthew Lewis, a spokesman for California YIMBY, told the Marin Independent Journal. Lewis indicates that people who cannot afford to live in Marin County should be able to.

Yet, People make decisions every day where to live and work, usually based on what they can afford.

VOC continues:

City leaders have repeatedly said they will not stop challenging the state’s mandated housing laws, promising to “unleash” city attorney Michael Gates.

“The City of Huntington Beach is right to challenge these State housing mandates,”said Mayor Tony Strickland said in a letter responding to state officials on Jan. 12. “We don’t need to hear a lecture from Governor Newsom. Gavin Newsom left San Francisco in shambles as Mayor and is doing the same thing to our state.”

On Tuesday, Newsom said HB officials won’t win that fight.

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

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26 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Browbeating Huntington Beach Again for Housing Requirements, While Marin Remains Exempted

  1. As Katy Grimes logically stated, neither Marin County nor Huntington Beach should not be forced to comply with the state’s one-size-fits-all housing mandates. However, if Gov. Newsom and the unelected bureaucrats at the California Department of Housing and Community Development insist on dictating state affordable housing requirements for cities in the state, then every city in Marin County should be required to meet those requirements immediately since they’ve been exempted up until now. It’s only equitable? Wealthy Democrats in Marin County who are always spouting off about “equity” shouldn’t mind having low-income projects erected near their mansions? Marin County should also have housing for the homeless too? It’s only equitable!

    1. Amen, do as I say not as I do. Newsome pretends to care. protect his way of life, and his property values.

  2. I am not clear who or what the “State” is that is making these demands for housing.

    What legislation was passed, when and by whom that created these draconian mandates. What does it take to undo any such oppressive legislation? Time to elect new state legislators and undo this damage, because no “State” legislation can exist forever in iron-clad perpetuity.

    A tutorial, please. Thanks.

    1. Jaye – Read the articles linked in the Katy Grimes article above for more information about the state “affordable housing” mandates.
      Add to the mess Scott Wiener’s SB 9 and SB 10, both passed by the legislature and signed by Newsom in 2021. Read below for general background on these bills (now law):
      “Polling on SB9 and SB10 Poses Problem for Newsom”

  3. Something doesn’t calculate. With a net 800,000 moving out of California to other states, why do we need any more housing? People pass away and I see a lot of housing being built in OC and Riverside.

  4. Vengeful and Republican-loathing Gov Newsom’s threats against conservative City of Huntington Beach are about a lot of things, but one thing we know for sure they are NOT about some public-minded desire to expand misnamed “affordable housing” stock. Not when his own home Marin County (where he and his wife once owned —- and may still own — a home) has been long exempted and remains exempt (until 2028) from the same rules. Can’t help suspecting Newsom had a strong hand in that exemption.

    Maybe Newsom’s hope is to punish Huntington Beach by bleeding them financially or maybe his constant beating up on the city is a hobby he likes to engage in for fun, but whichever it is, he would be smart to get over it. These angry threats may delight his supporters (still haven’t met one!) but the anger combined with his hypocrisy likely won’t go over with the rest of the country should he actually, somehow, realize his long-held dream of being a 2024 presidential candidate.

    1. By the way, has Gov Newsom relinquished his Emergency Powers yet? Hope so. End of February was supposed to be when he dropped them, I thought.

    2. Agree, Show&Tell!
      I can also say I have not met one supporter of Newsom as well and I live in the SF bay area which says a lot.
      We have an up close view as to what he did to San Francisco.

      @NoFear,The mass exodus of hard working families does not account for the mass migration from the southern border, as one can imagine those incoming and of need of housing are harder to track. If only the NGO’s would be more honest about their participation of “people moving”. They need somewhere to live now do they not?
      We are losing citizens and gaining illegal immigrants who are very willing in to live in sub-par housing.

      Newsom is pushing the pack and stack, the15 minute city that the good globalists want. Get rid of family friendly suburbia and push high density, urbanity on the conservative beach town. It is not conspiracy to look at the downside of these communities, the very forum that is pushing this idea tells why it may not be best for their goals! Vision Zero, Agenda 2030…

      1. Exactly. Born and raised in the bay area and have watched him turn the bay area into a dump.

  5. Thank you for speaking up and being informative. Here in Thousand oaks we are being forced to OVEREXTEND resources ~ we CANNOT bear the burden Newsom has placed on us. It seems we lose one right after another ! I hope the City of Huntington Beach takes this to the Supreme Court !!

  6. Here in Thousand Oaks, the same mandate has been put on the backs of its residents. The City cannot possibly comply simply because there are not adequate resources ! It seems we continue to lose one right after another. I hope the City of Huntington takes this issue to the Supreme Court !!

  7. PLEASE — provide us with the information that states a median price for a home is $800,000.00??? Is that per house, acre of land, strip mall???

  8. I have lived in HB for 20 years and watched plenty of apartments-condos built are they affordable, I don’t know I own my house. Just drive East on Edinger between Golden West and Beach Blvd there must be no less than several thousand units built in multi unit buildings, 5 stories or more. The city did not do any pre traffic survey, improve or widen Edinger Ave to accommodate the added traffic so you can just imagine what is happening. California is turning into a 3rd world state it wont be long if Newsom and his corrupt Democrat cronies get their way!

    1. Do you really think that a couple of granny flats will ruin HB? I would be happy if my kids’ babysitter lived nearby. I would be happy if my moms caregiver lived nearby. Remember, all those people who work in service jobs were classified as ‘essential workers’ during covid? Seems like they are owed a little consideration.

      1. Most lot sizes in HB are not big enough to accommodate granny flats so it’s more of a virtue signal from Newsom than an actual solution. This is a city full of tract homes with moderately sized backyards, not large empty lots.
        There are also thousands of apartments already, many of them recently built. If your sitter or caretaker wants affordable apartments, there are some near Beach & Slater, but with that comes higher crime. I lived there when I was in my 20’s and so did my friends, but there were occasional acts of violence. Maybe things have improved in the last 20 years.

  9. I do not like “forcing any city to comply with Newsome’s agendas”. To many politicians are “forcing” cities and states to do it their way. What happened to “Buy the People Fore the People. Water shortage, housing shortage. Why are we building more houses if we have a water shortage? Anyone noticing a change in their water pressure.? What is considered affordable housing when prices for housing is so high. In my area of Riverside County I see home going for $400 and higher. Builders cannot afford to buy land and make affordable houses. Just to ridiculous.

  10. There are other wealthy communities in California dominated by wealthy Democrats that don’t have low-income housing. Take for example, Hillsborough in San Mateo County which filled with multi-million-dollar mansions and estates. Hillsborough’s zoning and subdivision ordinances require a 2,500-square-foot minimum house size and minimum lot size of 0.5 acres. As a result, there are no apartments, condominiums or townhouses in the city limits. Since Hillsborough is dominated by rich registered Democrats, Gov. Newsom and his bureaucrat enforcers from the Department of Housing and Community Development are unlikely to ever demand Hillsborough build low-income housing.

  11. Nuisance is not my governor. He did not win Sonoma County at the re-election. There were more votes to recall him that were counted, yet the county trashed them. The king is wearing no clothes in other words. The Pelosi Crime Family (his aunt Nancy) seems to rule how things are. There have been no building mandates on the east side in Petaluma in place, but if a Pelosi relative wants to own part of our green belt, they get it. I thought corruption in NY was bad. I think Nuisance has beaten that state. LA Raza is very strong here, which is scary.

  12. housing shortages and high prices are due to the wealthy having second and third homes unoccupied for most of the year.
    second-highest number of empty homes. According to the report, 8.7% of California’s housing stock is vacant. That comes out to about 1.2 million empty units.
    wake up. vote!

  13. second-highest number of empty homes. According to the report, 8.7% of California’s housing stock is vacant. That comes out to about 1.2 million empty units.

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