After Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling, L.A. Suburb Claims Housing Mandate Unconstitutional

A wealthy California city is using a new argument to fight a multifamily housing development.

1 minute read

September 7, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View of hillside community of La Canada Flintridge, California

trekandphoto / Adobe Stock

In another episode of California’s continuing affordable housing saga—the one where cities are finding ‘creative’ solutions for skirting the state’s housing mandates—the city of La Cañada Flintridge, in Los Angeles County, “argued in court documents filed last week that a California law designed to desegregate historically exclusionary communities, known as ‘affirmatively furthering fair housing,’ is unconstitutional due to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down affirmative action in college admissions.”

As Emily Hoeven explains in the San Francisco Chronicle, the claim is an attempt to block a multifamily housing development, the first that would be built in the city in decades and that could be approved under the ‘builder’s remedy’ law. Hoeven adds, “The twisted logic of the city’s argument would almost be laughable if it weren’t in danger of setting a precedent.”

According to UC Davis law professor and California housing law expert Chris Elmendorf, California’s current fair housing law is too vague, “inviting a number of spurious claims, such as one levied by a neighborhood group in affluent Mill Valley, which recently challenged an affordable housing project under the fair housing law, arguing that it should be built in an even wealthier area.” Elmendorf says “It’s important for the law to outline specific strategies and goals, because its current opacity enables symbolic ‘box-checking.’”

Friday, September 1, 2023 in San Francisco Chronicle

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