Attorney General Bonta Defends State Housing Density Law

Friday, April 15, 2022
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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed a brief in defense of Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), which allows local governments to rezone certain neighborhoods for denser housing, irrespective of local restrictions. SB 10 was part of a package of bills passed by the Legislature last year to alleviate California’s housing crisis. Following its passage, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court arguing that the law is unconstitutional. In today's brief, Attorney General Bonta argues that the nonprofit's petition should be denied. Last year, the Attorney General announced the creation of a Housing Strike Force within the California Department of Justice. Today's brief in defense of SB 10 is part of the Housing Strike Force’s ongoing efforts to enforce and defend state housing laws in order to support California families struggling to afford housing.

“As California families continue to struggle with the sky-high cost of housing, tackling our state’s housing crisis is a top priority,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our Housing Strike Force is actively monitoring compliance with state housing laws, we’re continuing to ramp up our enforcement efforts, and we’re going to keep holding those who break our housing laws accountable. Laws like SB 10 are critical to address California's housing shortage and affordability crisis. We believe this law is constitutional, and we will continue to vigorously defend it in court.”

According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, California will need an estimated 2.5 million new homes by 2030 in order to meet housing demand. Yet on average only 100,000 new homes are built in California each year. Infill development — the development of vacant or underutilized plots in existing urban areas — is critical for local governments to address the housing crisis and meet state housing goals. 

But as local governments look to increase the housing supply in their areas, many have found themselves hampered by state and local laws limiting rezoning in certain areas. SB 10 makes it easier for local governments to zone for infill development, specifically, smaller, lower-cost housing developments of up to 10 units, if they choose. 

On September 22, 2021, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a lawsuit alleging that SB 10 is unconstitutional. The City of Redondo Beach later joined the lawsuit. In today's brief in defense of SB 10, Attorney General Bonta argues that the law is a constitutional exercise of the Legislature’s power to address matters of statewide concern like the current housing crisis.

The Housing Strike Force is actively monitoring compliance with state housing laws, and recently sent letters notifying Woodside and Pasadena of violations of Senate Bill 9 (SB 9), which allows homeowners to build up to four residential units on a single-family lot. The Housing Strike Force also sent a letter warning Encinitas of violations of state housing laws relating to its rejection of a proposed mixed use development project. Last year, the Housing Strike Force secured a $3.5 million judgment against Wedgewood that resolved allegations that the company was unlawfully evicting tenants from properties purchased at foreclosure sales. Most recently, the Housing Strike Force sent warning letters to 91 law firms across the state that represent landlords in eviction cases after being notified that some firms and their clients may have violated the law. 

The Housing Strike Force encourages Californians to send complaints or tips related to housing to  

A copy of the brief can be found here.

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