California reaches settlement with City of Fullerton over housing law violations

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California Construction News staff writer

California and the City of Fullerton have reached settlement requiring the city to comply with state housing law and adopt a plan to allow for the development of 13,209 housing units – 5,187 to be low- or very low-income.

“Fullerton has committed to stop litigating and start building. California is facing a housing crisis, and the status quo is simply unacceptable. More communities must step up and do the right thing by building their fair share of housing or be held accountable,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Under the state’s Housing Element Law, every city and county in California must periodically update housing plans to meet a share of regional and statewide housing needs.

Fullerton failed to adopt a housing plan on time and took no action after receiving a letter from HCD finding that its draft plan “did not substantially comply with the Housing Element Law”. HCD contacted and met with city officials and, due to the “lack of compliance”, referred the matter to the California Attorney General’s Office for enforcement.

The state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requires the City of Fullerton to provide 13,209 new units for Cycle 6, which is over a 600 per cent increase over the requirement for the previous period of 1,841 units.

Fullerton currently has over 1,100 housing projects that are approved or under construction.

“This resolution marks an important step forward for Fullerton. It demonstrates our dedication to ensuring that our community provides housing options that are inclusive, fair, and meet the diverse needs of our residents,” said Mayor Nicholas Dunlap.

The city will now adopt a compliant housing element no later than November 5, 2024, and modernize its zoning code by December 29, 2024, to accommodate thousands of affordable homes.

Key elements of the settlement Fullerton will:

  • implement measures to streamline the approval process for housing projects, ensuring that they align with state requirements while maintaining local considerations.
  • comply with the timing requirements with respect to any claim that a project does not meet any written public health or safety standards, policies, or conditions.
  • work towards increasing its commitment to affordable housing initiatives, including the development of affordable housing units and the expansion of housing options for low-income residents.
  • engage in a robust community engagement plan to involve residents in the decision-making process regarding housing developments. A community meeting will be held Jan. 25 to allow public input.

If Fullerton fails to abide by the settlement and does not cure its default, it may lose its authority to approve or deny certain types of developments.

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