By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — The city of Anaheim is facing a lawsuit from California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Department of Housing Community Development over alleged violation of state housing laws, the latest in a string of actions taken against cities the state says are skirting state housing policies.
The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court Monday, alleges that the city of Anaheim violated several housing laws by illegally requiring, then denying, a conditional use permit for the nonprofit Grandma’s House of Hope to operate transitional housing for homeless women with mental health disabilities.
The lawsuit claims the city ran afoul of a California law prohibiting discrimination in land use, among other laws.
“The barriers that people with disabilities face daily are only compounded by discrimination,” Housing and Community Development Director Gustavo Velasquez said in a statement. “The state will take legal steps necessary to ensure that housing discrimination against people with disabilities and all Californians ends. Cities and counties across the state will be held accountable for attempts to evade fair housing and anti-discrimination laws.”
Attorney General Bonta said in a statement that the city’s denial of the permit is a “clear violation of California law,” adding that the city cannot require permits for transitional housing that they do not require for “other housing in the same residential zone.”
The lawsuit comes as the latest in a series of efforts by state officials to enforce California’s housing laws.
Earlier this year, Mr. Bonta intervened in an alleged attempt by the town of Woodside to freeze the implementation of a state housing law by declaring itself a mountain lion sanctuary. Mr. Bonta sent a letter to the city, saying the declaration was a “deliberate and transparent attempt to avoid complying with SB 9,” a split-lot housing law that took effect this year.
Additionally, HCD announced a first-ever review of housing policy and practices in San Francisco to identify barriers to housing development in August. The HCD’s Housing Accountability Unit plans to investigate the city’s “decision-making patterns” that have reportedly resulted in the city taking longer than anywhere else in the state to advance housing projects to construction.
The latest lawsuit against the city of Anaheim requests the court allow HCD to “intervene immediately” to ensure compliance with state housing laws.
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.