Appeals Court Rules Against San Mateo in Housing Fight

The City of San Mateo has lost a legal fight concerning a four-story condominium development project that it said violated the city’s multifamily design guidelines. Friday’s decision by the California Court of Appeals could have significant implications for housing in California.

The city’s Planning Commission denied the proposed project in 2017 because of height issues. The city had received numerous complaints from residents and determined that the proposal violated the local guidelines. The California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA) filed suit, calling the decision subjective and illegal under the state’s Housing Accountability Act (HAA).

A lower court initially sided with San Mateo. However, the Appeals Court determined that the city’s guidelines were not sufficiently objective under the HAA.

Friday’s ruling upholds and strengthens the HAA and will lead to more housing being built across California, said CaRLA Executive Director Dylan Casey.

Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom also applauded the decision.

“This appellate decision upholding the constitutionality of the Housing Accountability Act is a major victory for all Californians,” said Bonta. “The law retains strong protections because our state needs strong solutions. Now’s the time for our state and local governments to work together to meet the challenge ahead.”

Newsom said the ruling “protects our ability to hold local governments to account and ensures that families throughout California won’t suffer when those same local leaders refuse to do their part to approve new housing.”

San Mateo Mayor Eric Rodriguez said the city was disappointed with the court’s ruling. City officials are still reviewing the decision before determining their next move.