Huntington Beach Won’t Sue Over State Mandated Housing 

April 20, 2021 Updated: April 21, 2021

Huntington Beach City Council struck down a motion this week to file a lawsuit against its state-mandated housing allocation.

Councilmember Erik Peterson brought forward a motion to appeal the allocation by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and initiate a lawsuit in state court. Council voted the motion down 5–2.

“Filing this appeal is the next logical step in trying to maintain a semblance of our local control,” Peterson said during the April 19 council meeting.

“It’s a simple question—accept SCAG’s ruling, or fight for our locals and our local control.”

City council members are unhappy with the state-mandated housing allocation of 13,368 units to be built by 2029 and have tried different avenues to fight it.

The council previously discussed in a closed session March 15 appealing for a reduction in its 13,368 new housing allocation mandate and decided to take no action.

Huntington Beach is one of many Orange County cities that have unsuccessfully appealed the lower Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) housing allocations.

Its city attorney, Michael Gates, recently suggested that the city should consider suing SCAG and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

“I strongly believe we should have local control, and if our council wants to have a progressive, prolific housing policy, then fine,” Gates, the only elected city attorney in Orange County, told The Epoch Times in March.

“But make those decisions at the local level and be accountable to the voters.”

Peterson said, “I think the city attorney has enough evidence, and enough history that we’ve had with this council and with SCAG to file a good appeal.”

This is not about anti-development, he said, but about local authorities taking control of their city.

“We as local [government] should be controlling as much as we can of our own city. And I think if we can try to get our number down, we’ll have a lot better results in the end,” Peterson said.

Councilman Dan Kalmick moved to postpone Peterson’s item indefinitely because of the council’s previous decision to take no action.

“Unfortunately, we had this conversation already in closed session,” Kalmick said. “We’re not going to address this item.”

Council voted 5–2 to postpone it, with councilmembers Peterson and Tito Ortiz dissenting.

Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize said the council “already appealed and we lost, and that put a big target on our backs from the state and the state sued us.”

Delgleize said another lawsuit would just cause the city more problems.

“We sued already; we’ve sued a lot and we’ve lost. And guess what else, it costs a lot of money,” she said.

Delgleize said she never wanted to build the RHNA housing, and instead “build things that make sense in our community.”

“I clearly agree with you. These numbers are not attainable; they’re unachievable; they’re not in reality; they’re just wrong, and HCD has refused to work with the people,” she said. “It’s time that we need to do something in a different way.”

Delgleize referenced AB 1258, proposed by Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen, which demands a judicial review of the housing allocation.

“One of the things I like about that legislation is it is popular, and it is demanding of judicial review,” she said. “This is long overdue. The last time it was addressed was in 2004.”

Councilman Mike Posey said suing ACD and SCAG wouldn’t be fruitful.

He said that even if the numbers were reduced, the city would only see a reduction of up to 10 percent of its original allocation.

“Nobody even has a target for what that reduction is going to look like,” Posey said, adding that a lawsuit could backfire.

“If … we’re in litigation, we can’t vote to approve or disapprove the RHNA then. If we’re in litigation, we don’t vote at all. We’ll have a decertified housing element.”