Huntington Beach decided to hold off on going to court to fight its state mandated housing goals that require the city zone for over 13,000 units in the next eight years.
City Council members at their Monday meeting voted 5-2 to indefinitely postpone fighting the mandate after not taking action on initiating a lawsuit last month. Council members Erik Peterson and Tito Ortiz dissented.
“I think it was a missed opportunity. Filing this appeal is the next logical step in trying to maintain a semblance of our local control,” said Peterson who requested the council to reconsider its March decision. “I received a lot of emails from other coastal cities that are looking to do this as a larger group.”
But Peterson’s push fell flat among most of the other council members.
“We discussed this two weeks ago. I can’t help it that Mr. Peterson couldn’t get here on time,” said Councilman Mike Posey. “If it wasn’t important then, it’s not important now.”
Peterson said he was delayed because he was stuck in traffic.
Most of the comments made and the emails sent to the City Council were in support of pushing back against state mandated housing and there was even a petition online to garner support for the agenda item with over 440 signatures.
“The residents of Huntington Beach do not want more unbridled and uncontrolled high density development. We are a community that takes pride in the fact that we are capable of running our own city the way it should be,” one resident said at the meeting.
Her comment echoes a call by city officials across California for greater local control on zoning and housing issues within their own borders in response to recent state legislation that they say usurps their authority.
The state assigned the Southern California Association of Governments — a regional board of city council members across the region — to come up with zoning for 1.3 million homes across six counties, including more than 180,000 in Orange County by October 2029.
Huntington Beach will have to zone for more than 13,000 new homes — over 5,800 of which will have to be for very low income and low income families.
“These numbers are not attainable, they’re unachievable, they’re not in reality. They’re just wrong and (California Department of Housing and Community Development) has refused to work with the people,” Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize said.
“We are not the only people in this area of Southern California that are having issues with the numbers.”
The board denied all of the appeals.
Despite her concerns, Delgleize said suing is not the answer.
“We sued already. We’ve sued a lot and we’ve lost. And guess what else? It costs a lot of money,” she said at the meeting.
Much of the uproar from Orange County city officials came over the methodology the regional board used to distribute the housing goals across Southern California.
The methodology has been criticized as unfair, unvetted and failing to take into account the county’s concerns and input, with some city officials accusing Riverside and Los Angeles counties for conspiring to “thwart” the process.
Residents too brought up concerns with the methodology.
“These numbers were literally pulled out of someone’s butt in a backroom deal and we deserve better in Huntington Beach,” said one resident.
Posey challenged the notion that such a deal was made.
“There was no sleazy backroom deal. There was no secret motion. There was nothing secret about this. It was all transparent. It was all in the open,” he said.
Posey added a litigation will not result in a significant reduction in the allocation of the city’s housing goals.
“It’s a fool’s errand,” he said.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.