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For more than a year now elected officials in several Orange County cities have been pushing against state mandated housing goals that would have them zone for what they say is a large amount of new homes in the next decade.

City officials have been calling the mandate an unachievable task and questioning where to put the new housing in an already largely developed county.

Many cities filed appeals for lower housing goals with the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional board of elected officials assigned by the state to zone for 1.3 million homes in six Southern California counties by October 2029.

The regional board has allocated the number of dwellings that must be zoned for by each of Orange County’s 34 cities.

City councils in at least three cities will address housing next week.

And the state is watching.

Gov. Gavin Newsom in a state budget briefing last month announced his intention to create a new office aimed at monitoring council meetings to hold municipalities accountable for their state-required housing goals.

Westminster is set to discuss how to tackle zoning for the increase of homes while Orange will consider a resolution calling for more local control over land usage. Stanton, meanwhile, may put a moratorium on building more housing.

“We got 40,000 people living in one and half square miles. It’s time for us to stop and take a look at what we’re doing with our housing. We got to take a look at what’s best for the community,” Mayor David Shawver told the Voice of OC.

Stanton council members will consider their moratorium on Tuesday. No staff report has been provided regarding the moratorium but Shawver requested the item be agendized at their last meeting.

“A moratorium means nothing more than stopping, having a study session, and finding out in your specific plan what direction you want to go,” he said.

Stanton is required to zone for over 1,200 homes with over 300 units for people with very low or low income levels. 

Shawver said the city has already met those requirements.

“We’re building about 6,000 units right now and it’s time to stop for a little bit,” he said. “We have the most affordable housing in Orange County.”

Shawver added the three and a half square mile city has a one and a half square mile residential zone and needs commercial development to pay for services available to residents.

He also said there is traffic mitigation also to take in consideration with building new homes.

“The state is coming down on everybody for housing and that’s their number one priority. We have always been a leader in providing housing for our community,” Shawver said. “We’ve done more than any other city in Orange County per capita to take care of the homeless and for those people that need supportive housing.”

Click here for instructions to access Stanton’s Tuesday meeting by phone starting at 6:30 p.m.

That same day, Orange City Council members will vote on a resolution calling for greater local land use protections in response to the state Legislature adopting laws and mandates regarding land use that some argue is “eroding local control.”

“There is a new effort by local elected officials throughout the state to prevent the Legislature from passing additional laws that have detrimental effects on our communities,” reads the Orange staff report.

Click here for the agenda with a link to download the staff report.

Council members Kimberlee Nichols and Chip Monaco are the ones putting up the resolution before the council.

Determined by a regional housing needs assessment (RHNA), the city has to zone for over 3,900 new homes with close to 1,700 for people with low or very low income levels. Orange too has not appealed the numbers.

Click here for a link to watch Orange’s Tuesday meeting starting at 6 p.m.

The Westminster City Council will hear an update from staff on Wednesday regarding the housing portion of the city’s general plan. The city has to zone for close to 10,000 new homes with over 3,300 homes for people with low or very low income levels.

“Achieving the RHNA allocation will also require allowing for more intense developments at sites that are currently underutilized either with lower density multi-family housing or commercial uses,” reads the Westminster staff report.

The city filed an appeal to reduce its requirement by over 8,500 units arguing that the large figures do the exact opposite of reducing socioeconomic inequity in a city which has amongst the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the county.

Councilwoman Kimberly Ho told the Voice of OC Friday that the city’s appeal was denied and added there should be more local control when it comes to housing.

“We’re a city that’s pretty built out, so it’s just not possible for us to to make those numbers happen,” Ho said. “Our constituents know what’s best for them. I think we know what’s best for our constituents also.”

Click to watch Westminster’s Wednesday study session starting at 5 p.m. via Zoom here or via the city website here.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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