Legal Aid Society of Orange County and Community Legal Services (LASOC-CLS) achieves victory in court on behalf of low-income residents of Huntington Beach.

In March 2018, plaintiffs in Kennedy Commission v. Huntington Beach filed a First Amended Petition in Superior Court, alleging that the City of Huntington Beach violated housing laws by adopting a specific plan amendment that prevents affordable housing from being built in the city. The city’s decision makes it even more difficult for low-income Huntington Beach residents to find housing in the city.

On June 7, 2018, the Court rejected the city’s arguments that the case should be dismissed, allowing Plaintiffs to proceed with discovery and litigation.

“This case is about making sure that low-income Huntington Beach residents are included in the government’s calculation,” said Sarah Gregory, lead attorney with LASOC-CLS. “The city must accommodate affordable housing units to ensure the well-being and stability of its residents, many of whom have been unable to keep up with the skyrocketing rents in their city.”

The Huntington Beach City Council adopted the Beach Edinger Corridor Specific Plan Amendment (“BECSP Amendment”) on May 4, 2015, despite months of efforts by the Kennedy Commission and the two displaced veterans, who had been forced to leave Huntington Beach due to the lack of affordable housing in the city. The City of Huntington Beach had refused to comply with previous court orders, continued to enforce the BECSP Amendment, and appealed a January 20, 2016 judgment in favor of the Petitioners.

The BECSP Amendment effectively blocked any low-cost housing in the City, imposing a development cap, burdensome parking, setback, height, and use restrictions, and costly and time-consuming discretionary permit requirements. “This years-long effort to force the city to simply comply with state law and its own Housing Element, the ‘Constitution’ for development, reminds all of us that we must remain vigilant to ensure the inclusion of affordable housing.” said Gregory.