Meet the Small YIMBY Group Suing California Cities

In January, the governor filed an unprecedented lawsuit against Huntington Beach over its housing policies. That suit and his previous threat to withhold transportation funds from some governments garnered plenty of attention. Now, people are taking notice of a four-person housing advocacy group with a similar mission to sue any NIMBY city it can find.

The website for California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, or CaRLA, lists several lawsuits pending against cities that failed to approve housing projects to date: Calabasas, Los Altos, San Francisco, Sonoma, and San Mateo. It says it won a case against Berkeley and settled out of court with Sausalito, Dublin, and Lafayette. A lawsuit against San Bruno may also be imminent.

CaRLA says it’s just doing its part to see that cities comply with the law.

From the website:

California state law prevents cities from denying housing proposals that comply with objective zoning standards, general plans and environmental laws. In practice, cities often deny housing proposals anyways because there is no statewide enforcement agency. New housing production inevitably plays a role in the lives of California renters. Denial of housing proposals means fewer options available to renters as our population grows and our rental stock ages; Home owners have housing security while renters depend on new housing.Cities that deny housing proposals are denying renters a home in California. CaRLA is a 501(c)3 that holds municipal governments accountable when acting in violation of California State laws. We pursue legal action where developers have not, bringing suit against cities that fail to approve compliant housing. We work for California’s renters, not homeowner wealth.

Read more about the organization that is “suing the suburbs” at the Mercury News.


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