A Key Tactic: Sue the Suburbs

By J. K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

Citing a state law that limits cities’ power to reject developments, lawsuits sometime result in new housing projects, sometimes just a big payout…

The campaign to tackle the Bay Area’s housing crisis by forcing residential development in reluctant communities started with a simple idea: Sue the suburbs…

Pro-housing activist Sonja Trauss, a pioneer in the YIMBY movement, was reading about a controversial 315-unit affordable apartment project in Lafayette in 2015 when she learned about a 1982 state law she’d never heard of before: the Housing Accountability Act.

The law said municipalities must approve a housing development as long as it is consistent with local zoning rules and general plan objectives, would not create a public health hazard or take water from neighboring farms, and would meet state environmental standards…

The California Renters Legal Advocacy Fund, or CaRLA — a group Trauss and her YIMBY allies formed in 2015 — is waging the sue-the-suburbs campaign. CaRLA has used the Housing Accountability Act to sue on behalf of developers in Sausalito, Berkeley, San Mateo, Sonoma, Dublin and Lafayette…

Earlier this year, a group of elected officials and other concerned citizens formed a new group called Livable California, with a mission to “protect California cities” and “oppose state overreach and big money influence.” The group started after a February town hall meeting at the Taraval Police Station in San Francisco and has several hundred members, including candidates for local office in Pleasanton, Cupertino, Orinda and San Luis Obispo…

Livable California co-founder Susan Kirsch of Mill Valley said the group has gained momentum among people who believe that the top-down push for housing development — and big money flowing into the YIMBY movement — is “eroding representative democracy and local decision-making.”

“The consensus was that we are getting clobbered,” said Kirsch. “There has been an amassing of power into the hands of state and regional government. We are not NIMBYs or anti-housing; for us the issue goes back to democracy and local control.”… (more)

Interesting to note that Trauss was trounced by the neighborhood she tried to represent at the SF Board of Supervisors. Even though her opponent was outspent, by double-digits, the district that Jane Kim represented and failed to support in her big against Scott Wiener, chose the least offensive and density-loving of the three candidates. In fact none of the YIMBY candidates won in San Francisco District Supervisor races. The citizens also supported “Prop C” that was opposed by Wiener and the Mayor Breed, proving that their is still a faintly beating heart in the city by the Bay that has not been bought by pro-development supporters.

CaRLA lines up cities to sue

Renters group sues city over Haskell vote

By Emilie Raguso: berkeleyside – excerpt

As promised in February, a Bay Area renters group has sued the Berkeley City Council — again — over its rejection of a three-unit infill housing project on Haskell Street…

The renters group says the zoning board found the project in line with all city development standards, and that council did not cite grounds to reject it. The group says the state Housing Accountability Act is the legal basis for its lawsuit… (more)

San Mateo denies housing. CaRLA fights back.

San Mateo, CA – March 1, 2018: Today we signaled our intent to file a lawsuit against the City of San Mateo, CA alleging that the city violated the state’s Housing Accountability Act with an unlawful denial of a housing project. In 2017, a modest housing project was proposed for 4 West Santa Inez Avenue that would add 10 units to the Bay Area’s already scarce housing supply. On February 5, 2018, San Mateo City Council voted to deny the project.

The City of San Mateo denied the project on the grounds that “the structures, site plan, and landscaping are not in scale and are not harmonious with the
character of the neighborhood”. We allege that the city’s reason for denial of the project was based on subjective criteria, which is a violation of the Housing Accountability Act’s requirement that projects be denied for objective, well-defined criteria…(more)

The best reasons to oppose SB 827 are YIMBY, SFBARF and CaRLA. They plan to take local control away from cities, demanding high density housing everywhere, and then sue when cities don’t meet their demands.

Lafayette: Homes at Deer Hill lawsuit moves forward

By Jennifer Modenessi : bayareanewsgroup – excerpt

A Contra Costa Superior Court judge has upheld a ruling that allows a lawsuit against developers and the city of Lafayette to move forward.

 Judge Judith S. Craddick affirmed Aug. 9 a tentative ruling rejecting the city and developer O’Brien Land Company’s request that the lawsuit filed by the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation not move forward.
 The city and developer filed the demurrer challenging the legal basis — but not the merits — of SFBARF’s suit. The group claims Lafayette broke state housing law when the city council approved a 44-home development that replaced 315 moderate-income apartments known as the Terraces of Lafayette originally pitched for a hillside above Highway 24.
 “I’m thrilled that we won at this stage,” said Sonja Trauss, the group’s founder. “The next step is to prepare for a trial.”
 City Manager Steve Falk said the ruling was “not entirely surprising” given the judge’s earlier tentative judgment, which rejected in part the city and developer’s arguments SFBARF had exceeded the statute of limitations to file its legal challenge.
 “No one has won or lost the lawsuit yet,” Falk said. “It’s just kind of a step along the way”… (more)
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