Why California’s governor is suing Huntington Beach

“Now I’m going to have a hard time walking the streets down there. The state has the highest poverty rate in America when adjusted for the cost of living. The state saw around 80,000 new homes built annually over the past 10 years, about 40% of what is needed. Local governments’ restrictions, slow approval and permitting processes, opposition from residents and high development costs are to blame.

The lawsuit against Huntington Beach is meant to be a warning shot to cities that they cannot stonewall development. In 2017 the state legislature passed several bills to speed up housing development and approvals.Until recently many cities have not met their housing numbers but faced little consequence. They routinely put in place restrictions that make development harder, such as erecting height restrictions and lowering caps on new housing developments.

This is what happened in Huntington Beach’s case, according to the state’s lawsuit, which declares, “the time for empty promises has come to an end. The city should not be allowed to avoid its statutory obligations any longer. Huntington Beach is fighting back. In February it filed two lawsuits taking aim at the state’s housing laws.

Perhaps this immigration spat is part of why Huntington Beach is being “singled out” now, muses Michael Gates,the city attorney. “Everybody is upset about that, and it’s exactly why I did it. There’s got to be consequences,” he says. For years local governments have been able to slow-walk development with no fear of repercussion.

Trust us to help them make sense of the world.

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