California and Huntington Beach Sue Each Other Over Housing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta announced a lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach Thursday for violating state housing laws. Hours later, Huntington Beach turned around and sued the state, challenging its authority to compel the seaside town to build more than 13,000 homes over eight years.

At a press conference, Newsom called Huntington Beach “Exhibit A” for “what’s wrong with housing in the state of California.” The state’s lawsuit primarily focuses on the city’s accessory dwellings ban. Subsequent lawsuits are expected to target additional housing policies in the city.

Huntington Beach is now taking aim at the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) itself, which determines where and how much housing must be built. The city’s lawsuit cites Huntington Beach’s charter city home-rule authority. It also accuses the state of violating the city’s 1st Amendment protection for compelled speech, the Commerce Clause, and 14th Amendment due process rights.

Political observers saw this fight coming from a mile away. Huntington Beach settled a similar lawsuit with the state in 2020. But last November, a Republican majority regained control of the City Council. Voters widely elected candidates who vowed to stand up for local control.

The governor has called the city’s effort a waste of time.

“The leaders of Huntington Beach refuse to build their fair share of housing and are flagrantly breaking state law,” Newsom said in a tweet. “The city has tried these antics before. They lost then and they will lose now.”