Newport Beach Opposes State Affordable Housing Quotas

JESSICA RUIZ, Voice of OC

Newport Beach City Hall.

Newport Beach officials this week joined cities across Orange County who have passed resolutions opposing mandated regional quotas that significantly expand the city’s affordable housing goals for the next ten years.

To address California’s housing shortage, the state has tasked the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a regional board of elected officials across six counties, to come up with zoning for 1.3 million new homes across Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Imperial Counties by Oct. 2029.

The proposed quota would have Newport Beach zone for 4,832 new units as opposed to a previously proposed target that would have the city zone for 2,751 units, making what Newport Beach officials say is an already difficult task, unattainable.

“We don’t like those numbers we’d like them to be reduced. It is imposing (the equivalent of) 40 years of development in the next eight years on our city,” said Newport Beach Councilmember Diane Dixon in an interview Tuesday. “We’d just like recognition that it’s a huge undertaking for all cities to implement these requirements.”

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a resolution opposing the draft methodology used to determine Newport’s housing targets.

Newport’s resolution states that the increased target does not take into account city and government agency laws as well as the “tremendous environmental and topographical constraints” of Newport Beach’s coastal community.

“As a coastal city, there is barely a square inch of dirt not regulated by a county, state, or federal agency,” said Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill in an email to the Voice of OC.

“Our resolution protesting the RHNA methodology is part of our overall plan to confront the housing allocation issue head-on. Our City Council is committed to pushing back on the timing and unreasonably high housing allocation. We are also committed to finding a compliance path too.”

Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel and Costa Mesa have also passed resolutions opposing the draft methodology that would shift much of the requirement to coastal cities in Orange County and away from Riverside County.

The draft methodology was proposed by Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey through a substitute motion at the regional council SCAG meeting in November of last year with support from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The substitute draft methodology was approved in favor of a proposed methodology that had undergone months of review and public vetting.

Cities in Orange County have publicly criticized Bailey’s methodology as unfair, unvetted and failing to take into account the County’s concerns and input, with some city officials accusing Riverside and Los Angeles County for conspiring to “thwart” the process.

Garcetti’s office did not respond to requests for comment and Bailey was unavailable for comment.

“There was no public discussion on that new allocation. That’s concerning,” Dixon said in an interview.

The City of Newport Beach intends to file an appeal of the methodology.

“The modified Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation methodology undermines the integrity of what is mandated to be a collaborative RHNA process, negating months of local participation conducted in good faith and posing a significant threat of lasting damage to the region as well as City of Newport Beach if permitted to stand,” the adopted resolution states.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC news intern. Contact him @helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.