La Cañada Flintridge ordered to process affordable housing project application

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Current site at 600 Foothill Blvd.

California Construction News staff writer

La Cañada Flintridge violated California’s Housing Accountability Act when it denied an application for an affordable-housing project last year, a Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled.

The court determined that the city violated the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) when it refused to process the developer’s application under California’s “Builder’s Remedy” – a provision of the HAA that prohibits a local government from denying a housing project for very low, low-, or moderate-income households, based on inconsistency with zoning or land use designation, while the city’s housing element was not in substantial compliance with state law.

The proposed project at 600 Foothill Blvd., would replace an aging Christian Science church with a five-story building including 80 mixed-income units and a 14-room hotel.

Under the ruling, the city will have to process the application, which was filed under the “builder’s remedy” law which is used for cities that are out of compliance with housing element regulations that require local governments to develop specific zoning plans to address population increases.

The court’s decision is a win for affordable-housing advocates as well as the developers behind the project, who’ve been fighting to get the multiuse development approved for nearly half a decade.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement after the Los Angeles Superior Court rejected arguments by the city of La Cañada Flintridge, an affluent community of about 20,000 residents in Southern California, that it did not have to comply with state housing laws.

“La Cañada Flintridge is the latest community that has failed in their effort to override state housing laws. Today’s favorable ruling should serve as a warning to other NIMBY jurisdictions that the state will hold every community accountable in planning for their fair share of housing,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

“We are pleased that the court agrees with us that La Cañada Flintridge must follow state housing laws to facilitate affordable housing and alleviate our housing crisis,” Bonta said in a statement. “The California Department of Justice is committed to enforcing state laws that increase housing supply and affordability.”

In December, Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), announced that the state would seek to intervene in the case of California Housing Defense Fund v. City of La Cañada Flintridge to uphold California’s housing laws, and reverse the City of La Cañada Flintridge’s denial of a mixed-use project that would create 80 mixed-income residential dwelling units, 14 hotel units, and 7,791 sq. ft. of office space.

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