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Home / legal challenge

Huntington Beach appeals dismissal of challenge to housing laws

The city has appealed a federal court judge’s ruling in Santa Ana that Huntington Beach lacked legal standing to challenge the state’s enforcement of affordable housing laws and Friday is taking the legal fight to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeal argues the state’s mandates for affordable housing force the city to ignore environmental concerns of adding housing at the pace the state has supposedly required.

“Exercising their discretion as democratically accountable elected officials, (Huntington Beach officials) concluded they could not support that the state mandate of 13,368 new units of high-density development justified the significant environmental harms they presented to the city,” the city argued in its appeal.

City officials claim the state’s mandate would result in about 40,000 new units of new high-density housing in the city over the next few years.

“This is a massive 50% increase in the city’s current housing inventory of approximately 81,000 existing units of housing,” city officials argued in the appeal.

Huntington Beach officials made a First Amendment claim based on a requirement to make a statement adhering to the state’s law.

“Any state action that purports to mandate a charter city — constitutionally authorized over municipal affairs independent of the state — to increase its housing stock by 50% in just the next few years, would be objectionable enough,” the city said in its appeal. “But here, the state’s (housing law would) compel plaintiffs to publicly declare by way of the written statement that the state-mandated high-density housing development is more important than the city’s air quality, water supply and greenhouse emissions.”

City officials also argued that it has more authority as a charter city to govern itself.

U.S. District Judge Fred W. Slaughter in November ruled the city lacked legal standing to pursue a federal complaint against the state. The city has previously unsuccessfully attempted to argue that as a charter city it has more authority than a general law municipality to act apart from state law.

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