YIMBYs sue for even more housing via RHNA

By Benjamin Schneider, SF Weekly, February 4, 2021

“YIMBY groups say that the Bay Area’s housing allocation from the state for the 2023-31 RHNA cycle does not adequately account for jobs/housing balance — the ratio between the number of new jobs added and new homes built over a given time period — leading to an artificially low number.

“The YIMBY groups are basing their suit on a study by the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Studies, which found that Housing and Community Development (HCD) undershot the Bay Area’s housing allocation by as many as 245,000 homes. The lawsuit specifically highlights the jobs/housing imbalance, which the study calculates could amount to a deficit of about 138,000 homes. In other words, the Bay Area’s housing allocation should be closer to 579,000, not 441,000, according to the suit.

“The Bay Area’s housing allocation increased about 230 percent in the latest RHNA cycle, while Southern California’s allocation increased by more than 300 percent.

“Jennifer Hernandez, a San Francisco-based land use attorney and YIMBY Law advisory board board member, feels this discrepancy is ‘politically influenced.’ The Bay Area has ‘more supporters of the current administration and donors of the current administration than Southern California,’ Hernandez says, in reference to Governor Gavin Newsom. ‘It’s a pretty clear double standard.’

“As cities begin sending their housing plans to the state for adoption, major questions remain in terms of how HCD will interpret two of the statutory requirements in state housing law: whether plans affirmatively further fair housing, and the likelihood that the new zoning will actually result in new housing production. Those factors could force cities to zone for considerably more housing than their RHNA allocation, and in the fancier, more racially and economically segregated parts of town, said Chris Elmendorf, a law professor at UC Davis and one of the authors of the Lewis Center study.

Read the full article here. (~6 min.).

In CP&DR, Chris Elmendorf wrote an editorial discussing the complexity of the YIMBY suit.

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