Orange County Project Could Go Forward Under ‘Builder’s Remedy’

The nation’s largest home builder could receive approval for a 530-unit development under an obscure state law as the city of La Habra’s zoning laws hang in limbo after the state rejected its proposed housing plan.

2 minute read

February 2, 2023, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of residential neighborhood in La Habra, California at sunset

Matt Gush / La Habra, California

With local zoning laws suspended for cities that haven’t had their housing plans approved by the state of California, home builders are beginning to file applications for projects under the “builder’s remedy,” a 1990 law that lets developers bypass city council review and skirt local zoning laws if 20 percent of units in a proposed project are available to low-income renters. Jeff Collins reports on one project for the Orange County Register.

After having one application denied in the city of La Habra, Lennar Corp., the largest home builder in the United States, has filed a new application for a 530-unit development on the site of a 151-acre golf course. If approved under the builder’s remedy, the project could be exempt from Measure X, a local measure passed in response to Lennar’s original application that requires voter approval for rezoning open space.

As Collins explains, “The builder’s remedy was meant to serve as one of numerous consequences for failing to meet state housing laws, which require cities and counties to promote homebuilding at all income levels.” But local activists say the community should have a say in what gets built.

If approved, “the project still would have to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, which likely would require an environmental impact report.” The new proposal includes more housing units and less open space than the original plan.

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