In a ruling likely to reverberate in California, a Los Angeles County judge this week ruled that La Cañada Flintridge, a wealthy Los Angeles County city, has been embroiled for months in The escalating controversy over the development terms of the builders’ remedies — which did in fact miss critical deadlines for its housing elements to reach state compliance — meant the city was eligible for the builders’ remedies program.
The ruling has added significance as it has implications for other builders’ fights for redress across the state. Over the past few months, La Canada, Flintridge and other development-averse cities have been fighting back vigorously, often relying on arguments they try to sidestep, as developers try to take advantage of the rule to build projects that don’t comply with local zoning. National Housing Administration.
In many cases, cities claim to be able to “self-certify” their own housing, rather than following the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s rules on compliance with housing elements (the department that determines whether cities are subject to builder remediation and other penalties); The court ruling undercuts those arguments, which in turn provide builders with what may be the most significant legal boost to date since the controversial provision became a major force in California housing development last fall.
“This is a major win for the housing industry,” California Association of Realtors President Jennifer Branzini said in a statement. “Certain cities and counties have long made compliance with state housing laws optional. This decision sends a clear message that compliance with these laws is not optional.”
The lawsuit was brought by the California Home Owners Association, a nonprofit affiliated with the state’s group of realtors that regularly files pro-housing lawsuits against cities.
“That was expected, but it’s still a very big win for us,” added Matt Gelfand, an attorney for the nonprofit that filed the lawsuit.
Flintridge Canada officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, the ruling was nuanced. While the judge denied the city’s request to dismiss the case, he also denied a motion from the California Home Ownership Association seeking an immediate ruling to discredit the city’s housing department. The judge did not rule immediately, but referred the issue to a trial that could take place later this summer.
The judge also declined to make a clear statement that the builder’s remedy applies to the city, as he determined that California homeownership organizations without pending projects do not have legal status, although he said developers with pending projects likely would. Do. Earn such a manifesto.
However, in another homeownership claim brought by Californians, the judge immediately ruled in the group’s favor, determining that the city’s housing elements could not be declared substantially compliant — identifying builder remedies and other penalties Legal criteria for eligibility – because La Cañada Flintridge did not complete its required rezoning after missing an earlier state compliance deadline.
The order effectively upholds the state’s authority, rejecting the city’s self-certification argument while strongly implying that the builder’s remedy does apply; the court’s final decision will also impose penalties on the city, including timely rezoning.
“Our main goal was to pave the way for the city’s builders to take remedial action until they got their act together, and that has now been achieved,” Gelfand said.
Tuesday afternoon’s ruling comes amid a months-long squabble in the town over builder remedies and a longer squabble for one particular property, with the development team now seeking to use the fines to build a five-story building. multi-storey mixed-use project, which will include 80 apartments. Residential units, approximately 8,000 square feet of office space, and a 12-room hotel. As the dispute has escalated, state officials have also stepped up warnings to city governments, suggesting they may take legal action.
After the court ruling, Alexandra Hack, one of the partners in the project, said she was ecstatic and her team was “lined up” for legal action against the city.
“I think the most important thing is that there is no uncertainty right now. The court has ruled that self-certification does not confer any substantive compliance – it is not an acceptable way to achieve the housing element of a complaint. Not at all.”