State's Housing Strike Force Goes After More Cities

California Attorney General Rob Bonta is urging the City of Encinitas to approve a revised plan for a 277-unit apartment complex … or else.

“Based on our current understanding of the revised project, it appears that approval of the revised project would be in the best interests of Californians and consistent with the city’s obligations under state law,” Bonta said in a March 24 letter.

Bonta said the city’s rejection of the first plan was illegal and that approval of the revised plan must follow.

“We urge the city to take prompt action to consider and approve the revised project if and when a new application is submitted. If the city fails to do so, the Attorney General is prepared to take immediate steps to hold the city accountable.”

The letter further urged Encinitas to promote “integrated and balanced living patterns, transforming racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity, and fostering and maintaining compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.”

The complex in question would feature 41 units for low-income residents and would be built in the affluent Olivenhain neighborhood. In rejecting the proposal, the city cited issues with roads and wildfire evacuation capacity.

The warning is the latest evidence that Bonta and his “Housing Strike Force” mean business. Bonta sent a letter to Pasadena this month about an urgency ordinance that exempts “landmark districts” from SB 9.

“Pasadena’s urgency ordinance undermines SB 9 and denies residents the opportunity to create sorely needed additional housing, under the guise of protecting ‘landmark districts.’ This is disappointing and, more importantly, violates state law,” Bonta said in a statement. “Right now, California is facing a housing crisis of epic proportions, and it’s going to take all of us, doing our part, to alleviate its worst effects. At the California Department of Justice, we’re in this fight for the long haul. I urge cities to take seriously their obligations under state housing laws. If you don’t, we will hold you accountable.”

In November, the strike force went after Woodside in San Mateo County after it tried to skirt SB 9 with a mountain lion habitat designation.

Bonta took to Twitter on Friday to tout the Strike Force’s recent actions, and perhaps to scare any local governments who happen to be watching.

“Our Housing Strike Force is continuing to ramp up its enforcement efforts, so I urge local governments to take their responsibilities under the law seriously," he said. "We're in this fight for the long haul.”


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