OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed an amicus brief supporting the City of Eureka in a lawsuit challenging an amendment to its housing element, which would provide affordable, climate-friendly housing to an area experiencing a severe housing shortage. The housing element amendment identified nine city-owned sites for housing development in and around downtown. Housing in this area would place residents near their jobs, services, and retail, and allow residents to access public transportation.
A local opposition group, Citizens for a Better Eureka, sued the City under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), arguing that an addendum to the environmental impact report failed to analyze traffic impacts, and that providing affordable housing on these sites would replace City parking lots and result in congestion in the downtown area. However, Eureka concluded that the plan for housing would contribute to an overall decrease in vehicle miles traveled – thus reducing harmful emissions – and impacts to intersection levels of service would be similar to the original housing element. In three other separate actions, Citizens for a Better Eureka has challenged the City’s efforts to provide housing.
“I proudly support Eureka in opposing this cynical effort to hamper development projects that benefit low-income residents; I will not stand for it,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The housing crisis and climate crisis are among the largest, most urgent issues facing California and we need to act swiftly and fiercely. Eureka is doing exactly this and has my steadfast support.”
State law requires local governments to include housing elements in their general plans, which serve as a “blueprint” for how the city and/or county will grow and develop. A housing element must include, among other things, an assessment of housing needs, an inventory of resources and constraints relevant to meeting those needs, and a program to implement the policies, goals, and objectives of the housing element. Once the housing element is adopted, it is implemented through zoning ordinances and other actions that put its objectives into effect. The housing element is a crucial tool for building housing for moderate-, low-, and very low-income Californians and redressing historical redlining and disinvestment.
Eureka’s housing element implements the goals and purposes of state housing laws, and the Department of Housing and Community Development certified it as complying with the Housing Element Law. In challenging the City’s housing element, the petitioner, Citizens for a Better Eureka, attempts to obstruct the development of future housing.
Attorney General Bonta is steadfastly committed to enforcing California’s housing laws.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Bonta secured an appellate court order in the state's favor compelling a prompt resolution of the enforcement case against Huntington Beach for its failure to adopt a housing plan compliant with state law. Also earlier this month, Attorney General Bonta, Governor Gavin Newsom, HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez, and the City of Fullerton announced an agreement requiring the city to adopt a plan to allow for the development of 13,209 housing units. In December 2023, Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom, and HCD announced filing a request to intervene in Cal. Housing Defense Fund v. City of La Cañada Flintridge, to uphold California’s housing laws, and reverse the City of La Cañada Flintridge’s denial of a mixed-use affordable housing project that would bring 80 mixed-income residential dwelling units, 14 hotel units, and 7,791 square feet of office space to the community.
In May 2023, Attorney General Bonta, in collaboration with state leaders, filed a lawsuit against the City of Elk Grove, challenging the city’s denial of a proposed supportive housing project which would add 66 units of supportive housing for lower-income households at risk of homelessness. In 2023, Attorney General Bonta, in collaboration with state leaders, announced settlements with the City of Coronado and the City of San Bernadino, for violating the state’s Housing Element Law.