In my story today on the ballot initiative in Mission Viejo that would put zoning in the hands of voters, Mission Viejo officials made one thing clear: They would follow state law when it comes to affordable housing even if it runs counter to the intent of the initiative.

City Attorney William Curley went so far as to say that Yorba Linda, a city that recently passed a similar “ballot box zoning” initiative, would face that “firestorm” from the state if its zoning laws don’t allow for more affordable housing developments.

So what would this “firestorm” coming to non-complying cities look like? Not much, as it turns out. Currently, ten cities in the county are out of compliance when it comes to updating their housing element — the part of the city’s general plan where the city reports on its housing zones to the state.

What this means is that these cities are not adequately zoning land so affordable housing complexes can be built. The out-of-compliance cities include: La Habra,; La Palma; Laguna Beach; Newport Beach; Orange; San Clemente; San Juan Capistrano; Santa Ana; Villa Park and Yorba Linda.

The punishment meted out to cities is a shorter time frame to update their housing elements — instead of having eight years to submit its housing element to the state, the city gets another four years to present its case, according to Linda Wheaton, the Housing Policy Development Deputy Director for the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Does that seem like a “firestorm” to you? Email me with your thoughts at


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