San Francisco Housing Advocates: 'Sue the Suburbs'

Renters' advocates in San Francisco are building a political and fundraising base to legally challenge suburbs that aren't pulling their weight in constructing the housing to meet the demands of population growth.
September 14, 2015, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Franco Folini

Lamar Anderson writes: "In an effort that could turn the Bay Area's housing wars on their head, the pro-development San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation (SFBARF) is launching an effort called Sue the Suburbs, setting its sights on the East Bay city of Lafayette, where a newly trimmed down residential community is shaping up to be a novel kind of battleground."

The group's first target, according to Anderson, could be the city of Lafayette, which made news recently when it approved a plan for 44 single-family homes on a property formerly considered for 315 apartments.

"The basis for a lawsuit comes from 1982's Housing Accountability Act, a measure that California passed as a counterweight to municipalities’ natural NIMBY tendencies," according to Anderson. "When a proposed development includes units affordable to low- and moderate-income households (and meets zoning requirements), the law forbids a jurisdiction from denying approval, or reducing a project’s density, unless it threatens health and safety in demonstrable ways."

The article also provides more details about the organization behind Sue the Suburbs, and the political implications of such potential litigation, especially for the city of Lafayette.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, September 3, 2015 in San Francisco Magazine
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