State Rejects Orange’s Housing Element

As the bitter housing fight continues between the State of California and Huntington Beach, a potential legal feud is brewing between California and another Orange County city.

Last month, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) rejected Orange’s state-mandated housing plan. HCD said the plan includes too many sites that are unable to be developed. These include parcels currently occupied by a charter school, a hotel, and a sheriff's training facility.

The problems with Orange’s plan were first raised by local developers and housing advocates, who accused Orange of trying to pull a fast one on HCD. One of those developers has already filed a preliminary application for a builder’s remedy project.

Interim City Manager Tom Kisela said sites in the housing plan only need to have the “potential” for development. Clearly, the state sees it differently. 

HCD has directed city officials to revise the housing element and re-submit it for approval. 

The city appears to be standing its ground, signaling a possible fight with the state. Aaron Schulze, an economic development manager for Orange, told Voice of OC that the rejected housing plan complies with state law.  

Without an approved housing element, Orange would be subject to “builder’s remedy.” City officials could be forced to approve a swath of development projects that violate local zoning and/or the city’s General Plan.