Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

Court: California charter cities must prioritize Affordable Housing on Public Land

By Nicholas Iovino, Courthouse News Service, November 26, 2019

“California can force San Jose and 120 other charter cities to give affordable housing developers the first crack at building on surplus city land, a California appeals court ruled December 3.

“The state’s Surplus Land Act requires cities, towns and counties looking to unload public land to give affordable housing developers an opportunity to develop the property first before selling it.

“San Jose had argued the home rule doctrine for charter cities in the California constitution superseded a 2014 state law that makes cities prioritize affordable housing development on surplus public land. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Theodore Zayne agreed with the city’s position in December 2016 and dismissed the core claims of a lawsuit brought by housing advocates.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel from the Sixth District Court of Appeal overruled that decision, finding the ‘well-documented shortage of sites for low- and moderate-income housing and the regional spillover effects of insufficient housing’ justify statewide application of the 2014 law.

“Writing for the panel, Justice Eugene Premo [wrote] … ‘We find that the state can require a charter city to prioritize surplus city-owned land for affordable housing development and subject a charter city to restrictions in the manner of disposal of that land, because the shortage of sites available for affordable housing development is a matter of statewide concern.’ ”

Read the full article here.